Groupama Wins VOR Leg 4

The French Groupama team took first overall in Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Racing, ending Team Telefonica’s winning streak and vaulting it into second place overall, ahead of Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand.

Second place in the grueling leg from Sanya, China, to Auckland, New Zealand, went to Ken Read’s Puma Ocean Racing by BERG team, putting the team in fourth overll.

Read’s Mar Mostro has been plagued by bad luck throughout the 2011-2012 VORl. In addition to being dismasted in Leg 1, the team tangled with a fishing net at a critical point in Leg 3 and sailed into a windless hole while racing during the Sanya stop-over, which put them nearly an hour behind before Leg 4 even began. However, the team is hoping it will be able to build on this latest strong finish.

“Finishing second is a big boost for the team,” said Puma navigator Tom Addis. “We managed to gain on the fleet without taking risks so that was a massive one for us. We sailed well, positioned the boat well and got our place back. That’s probably the biggest thing we will take from this leg.”

As for Groupama, skipper Franck Cammas credited his navigator, Jean-Luc Néilias, as having plaid an critical role in the victory, after the latter’s decision to position the boat well to the west allowed it to leapfrog the rest of the fleet early on. The boat then kept the lead all the way to the finish.

For the rest of the fleet, there was no rest until the very end, with all five boats finishing within 40 miles of one another. The delta between Team Telefonica and Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand was an incredible 93 seconds, after 5,220 miles of sailing.

In the overall standings, Team Telefonica continues to lead, followed by Groupama in second, Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand in third, Puma in fourth, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in fifth and China’s Team Sanya in sixth.

Leg 5, round Cape Horn from Auckland to Itajai, Brazil, begins March 18. After that it’s on to the race’s sole North American stopover, in Miami.

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Photo courtesy of IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race

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