Telefonica wins first stage of mystery Leg 2, but the pressure continues to build for organisers

Team Telefónica and Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand were engaged in a close quarters battle for the lead as they approach the finish of the first stage of Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi. But by the finish it was Telefonica who once again took line honours leaving Camper to take second for the second time.

For almost a day the two teams had been within shouting distance of each other, as they headed for a photo finish at the safe haven port just over two weeks after departing Cape Town, South Africa on December 11.

Chris Nicholson’s team got close, leading for long periods over the 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 finished at 1757:20 UTC, followed by CAMPER at 1759:17 UTC.

The leg from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi via the secret shipping location in the Indian Ocean has been a nail biting affair for the five boats that remain in the race, (Team Sanya were forced to make for Madagascar following a standing rigging failure), with frequent lead changes.

With Abu Dhabi trailing the fleet by 118 miles and sailing at an average speed of under 6 knots, it could still be another day before the ship that is booked to carry the fleet into the Gulf of Oman, where the race restarts, gets underway. This will be a concern for organisers as more pressure is applied for the Arabian stopover. Leg 3 to Sanya, China is due to start on 14 Jan. Originally Leg 2 was due to finish in Abu Dhabi on 1 Jan allowing under two weeks for the turnaround. But the slow trip from Cape Town has put the fleet well behind schedule with some expecting the fleet to arrive as late as the 6 Jan which in turn would allow just six days before the in port race and seven before the start of Leg 3.

While the racing on Leg 2 has been close with frequent lead changes, the real pressure for the VOR so far has focussed on the shore teams’ ability to perform record breaking turnarounds.