[VIDEO] Mar Mostro Leads Chinese Charge from Maldives

Earlier today, the teams left Male, the capital of the Maldives Islands in the Indian Ocean.

Team Sanya celebrated Chinese New Year’s Eve by leading a full strength Volvo Ocean Race fleet off the start line on the 3,051-nautical mile Leg 3 second stage from the Maldives to their home port in China.

In hot and humid tropical conditions the fleet got away cleanly on schedule at 0800 UTC on Sunday (1300 local time in the Maldives) with Team Sanya, the first sole Chinese entry in the Volvo Ocean Race, making the early running immediately after the start of their homecoming leg.

Sanya continued to scrap for the lead in the first few hours of sailing with less than half a nautical mile separating the six-boat fleet.

Speaking from the boat in a live video call after the start Chinese crew member Teng Jiang He, otherwise known as Tiger, confirmed that Team Sanya had got away to the best possible start.

“We had a perfect start this morning,” he said. “We were the first boat to cross the start line and we are still in the lead now an hour and a half into the race.”

Tiger is hoping the Year of the Dragon will herald a change in fortune for Sanya, who were forced out of Leg 1 inside the first 24 hours and also suffered rig damage in the first stage of Leg 2. He was hopeful of an arrival in Sanya in time the Lantern Festival in just over two weeks’ time.

“I wish all people in China a great Chinese New Year,” he said. “I also sincerely wish our boat a great prospect in the Year of the Dragon. The Lantern Festival is on February 6 so I hope we can arrive in Sanya before then and have a good celebration before the New Year festival period concludes.”

By 1100 UTC the closely packed fleet continued to track south easterly sailing line abreast on port tack separated by less than three nautical miles from north to south with all six boats working flat out for the lead.

At that time Ken Read’s PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG had taken up the most northerly position shadowed by overall race leader Team Telefónica skippered by Iker Martínez.

In the middle of the fleet Chris Nicholson’s CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, Team Sanya and Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing had formed a close knit bunch, while Franck Cammas’ Groupama sailing team were pursuing the most southerly route.

The Leg 3 second stage course will see the fleet cross the Bay of Bengal to the north west tip of Sumatra where they will enter the congested waters of the Malacca Strait before eventually turning north east to negotiate strong winds and steep waves in the South China sea on their way to the finish on the island of Sanya.

CAMPER skipper Chris Nicholson said he expected the fleet to face some extreme conditions after passing Singapore.

“It looks like we are in for a lot of breeze on the way up to China,” he said. “The first 1000 miles isn’t too bad, there’s just the lighter trade winds, they get up to 15 knots at one stage, then we do the Malacca Strait. At the moment I think it looks quite light and quite tricky down there.

“Round the corner to Singapore it looks like we’re in a for quite a rough time all the way to China. It’s the sort of thing that if you can lead out of the Malacca Strait and you keep the pressure on I’d say it would be good. But will be quite boat breaking conditions.”

By 1200 UTC CAMPER had eked out a narrow 0.3 nm lead over PUMA, with Telefónica holding on to third despite being significantly slowed by a breakage their headsail.

“It was a real shame because we were going very well,” commented Media Crew Member Diego Fructuoso. “We’re now working on repairing everything that broke — Jordi (Calafat) and Zane (Gills) on the sail and Ñeti (Antonio Cuervas-Mons) and Pepe (Ribes) on the ropes.

“Now we have to get everything right and start our comeback,” he added.

The boats will take around two weeks to complete Leg 2 with an estimated arrival in Sanya on or around February 6.

Eighty percent of the points for Leg 3 remain up for grabs, after the Stage 1 sprint from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah delivered the other 20 percent to all the teams except for Sanya, who will score full points for this stage*.

NOTE:  * As Sanya were unable to race the first stage of Leg 3, they will score full points for this leg – 30 points for 1st place, 25 for 2nd, 20 for 3rd, 15 for 4th, 10 for 5th, 5 for 6th. The other teams will score points on the following scale – 24 points for 1st, 20 for 2nd, 16 for 3rd, 12 for 4th, 8 for 5th, 4 for 6th.

At press time, PUMA Ocean Racing led the fleet.

PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Kenny Read/USA) is the new leader tonight at 1900 UTC, having forced early leader CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS) into second place. However, the entire fleet is split only by 2.90 nautical miles and CAMPER is only 0.10 nm behind Mar Mostro.

It is with universal relief that the six crews started Leg 3 Stage 2 from the Maldives to Sanya today. Everyone is happy to get back in the groove after the stop-start nature of past weeks, which was a necessary interruption to the racing action to avoid any possible interference by pirate activity.

This 3,051nm leg will certainly throw in some curve balls in the shape of uncharted atolls, shallows, shipping and ocean debris, but for now, the fleet is enjoying a relatively straightforward first night at sea, on a port tack stretch across to Pulau We, an island on the northwest tip of Sumatra, Indonesia.

As the crews settle into their watch systems, the navigation lights of those around them are clearly visible as the fleet races in warm air and flat water at around 12 knots.

All six boats are currently south of the rhum line in order to avoid the effects of a wind shadow from the Sri Lankan coast. Mike Sanderson (NZL) has taken Sanya the furthest south, while PUMA’s Mar Mostro is 4.21 nm to weather of the fleet.

Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) lost some valuable miles earlier in the day when a fitting on their code zero headsail failed, leaving the sail flogging and threatening to self-destruct. The crew has assessed the damage and is now hard at work on repairs, but is still well in touch and lies in fourth place tonight.s, but is still well in touch and lies in fourth place tonight.

Report time: Sun, 22 Jan 2012, 19:03:34 UTC

Pos Team







Video and information from Volvo Ocean Race.