As Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean race winds down, the competition is heating up between Groupama and PUMA as they battle for the top spot. After placing first and second respectively in Leg 4, from Sanya, China, to Auckland, the teams are once again neck and neck, separated by only a few miles as they race along the eastern coast of South America.
“All this drag racing is fun but the race is mostly like going to be won and lost on the last 250 miles where it is notorious fluky,” says Ken Read, the skipper for PUMA. It is here where strategy will either make or break them. Will taking a risk pay off or is playing it safe going to guarantee victory?
With less than 1, 000 nm to go before the leg ends in Itajai, a victory would have ramifications far beyond this particular heat. Finishing in first, and garnering the 30 points that victory will bring, would put either team much closer to overtaking the race’s overall leader Telefónica, whose earlier victories have secured them a commanding overall lead.
Telefónica is currently in third place, after making a brief pitstop in Chile to repair damage to its hull. Meanwhile, Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand and Abu Dhabi’s Azzam continue to limp toward Chile, where they plan to make repairs as well.
The sixth boat in the fleet, Sanya, withdrew from the leg shortly after the start in Auckland after breaking a rudder.
The Leg 5 finish is in Itajai, Brazil. From there, the fleet continues on to Miami, where it is expected to arrived in mid-May.
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