Sailing: Groupama ahead Volvo Ocean Race rivals

Sailing: Groupama ahead Volvo Ocean Race rivals
Posted: 28 February 2012 2010 hrs




SANYA, China: French team Groupama were in a commanding position on Tuesday having reached the coveted trade winds in the Pacific Ocean ahead of their Volvo Ocean Race rivals.

Groupama, skippered by Franck Cammas, now stand poised to take a huge lead going into the final stages of Leg 4 from Sanya in China to Auckland, New Zealand, with every prospect of ending Telefonica’s three-leg winning streak.

Current routing from race HQ in Spain suggests they could cover up to 550 nautical miles in the next 24 hours, and even greater distances during the next four days of trade winds sailing.

Groupama hold a lead of 50 nautical miles over Camper/Team New Zealand, with overall leaders Telefonica in third, while Puma are fourth but looking in a strong position to threaten from the north.

“You couldn’t ask for a better position than the position they hold at the moment, and on top of that we know that Groupama are near invincible in these conditions,” fifth placed Team Sanya skipper Mike Sanderson said.

Camper navigator Will Oxley told AFP he felt his team were starting on the back foot from their more westerly position.

“The boats to the east have an advantage with a better wind angle, so the boats to the west of them, including us, will have to hang tough,” he said.

American team Puma will look to take advantage of the hard fought easterly position they earned with a rebellious move north.

“After all this torture we’re going to finally have wider and faster angles than most, so we should be gaining by the hour,” navigator Tom Addis said.

With 30 points on offer for the leg winner against just five for last place, victory for Groupama could get them back in the hunt.

Leg four is due to finish in Auckland around March 8-10.

The Volvo Ocean Race started in Alicante, Spain, in October 2011 and ends in Galway, Ireland, in July.

Overall standings after three of nine offshore legs:

1. Telefonica (Spain) 101 points
2. Camper/ETNZ (New Zealand) 83
3. Groupama (France) 73
4. Puma (US) 53
5. Abu Dhabi (UAE) 43
6. Sanya (China) 17

- AFP/de

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