Team Telefónica will charge into 2012 as leaders of the Volvo Ocean Race after snatching victory over CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand in a thrilling finish to the first stage of Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.
The final 24 hours came down to an intense match race between Iker Martínez’s Telefónica, winners of Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town, as well as the Cape Town In-Port Race, and CAMPER.
The stakes were high as the two teams headed towards the secret safe haven, with CAMPER needing to finish in front to leapfrog Telefónica and go top of the leaderboard.
Chris Nicholson’s team got close, leading for long periods over a thrilling final battle between Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but in the end Telefónica came through, grabbing the definitive lead with just eight nautical miles to go and eventually winning.
Telefónica held on to finish at 1757:20 UTC on Monday, just one minute and 57 seconds in front of CAMPER, 15 days after the boats set off from Cape Town on December 11.
Telefónica claimed 24 points for first place in the first of a two-stage, 5,430 nautical mile (nm) leg to from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi, where 80 per cent of the available points have been awarded. CAMPER took 20 for second.
The provisional leaderboard sees Telefónica top with 61 points, followed by CAMPER on 54.
The finish line was set at an undisclosed destination to protect the six-boat fleet from pirate activity. The boats will now be shipped to a point off the Sharjah coastline in the northern United Arab Emirates in time to start what is sure to be an exciting, day-long sprint to Abu Dhabi in early January for the remaining 20 per cent of the leg points.
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG are currently in third place, followed by Groupama sailing team in fourth and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing fifth. Team Sanya were forced to suspend racing and head for Madagascar, where they are repairing the rig and focusing on getting in shape for Leg 3 to their home port of Sanya in China