With the fleet now re-launched, Leg 3 has re-started as crews prepare for the leg they dread the most

After an intermittent first two legs where breakdowns and shipping schedules frequently made the headlines, the Volvo fleet is back to its full compliment of six and has restarted from the now not so secret location of Male in the Maldives. It was from here, shortly after Christmas that the fleet of five were shipped to Sharjah before sprinting to Abu Dhabi. Now the reverse operation has been completed the fleet is now back to where it left off.

The fleet restarted at 0800GMT today (Sunday) in a light, sub 10 knot, north easterly breeze. Yet despite the light airs there has already been report of damage as overall race leaders Telefonica blew the tack out of their code zero headsail. Wrestling the sail back aboard and now being without the right sail for the conditions while repairs are made, has seen the Spanish boat slip to the back of the fleet.

As the crews start to get back into the swing of a race that has yet to find its rhythm, here are a few snippets from some of the crew as they head into their first night.

Chris Nicholson – Camper

“We need to do better end of story and we’ve spent a lot of time over the last few days preparing for this leg, looking at where we can improve our performance and how we can make the most out of the weather patterns ahead.
“Boat and crew are both in great shape and it’s just great to be out sailing and back in proper racing mode after the stop start nature of the last few weeks. I think we’re all looking forward to a true ocean leg rather than the drag race type format we’ve seen recently.
“The next 14 days are looking like they’re going to be very tough but we feel more than ready for it. This stage won’t be won by boat speed, it will be won by being smart and keeping the boat in one piece and going the right way and I rate our ability to do well in those areas.

“If I could use one word to describe this leg it would be ‘worrying’ and I think the range of conditions and obstacles it will present means that it won’t be decided until the closing stages.”
The fleet is expected to arrive into Sanya in early February.

Andrew Cape – Telefonica
Summarises what in store for Leg 3

For me the race has four parts:
1) 1,300 nm to Indonesia. Light/med upwind-tight reach with squalls and current against. Fastest boat wins.

2) 600 nm Malacca Strait, wind goes light in transition from NE to NW. Many obstacles such as shipping, fishing boats and nets, islands, shallows, bandits…

3) 50 nm Singapore Straight. Biggest problem is danger from huge volume of shipping and has strong currents and bandits.

4) 1,100 nm China Sea to Sanya Finish. Upwind in NW to NE wind that could get strong of Vietnam. When to tack? Strong adverse currents of Vietnam coast.

Franck Cammas
On how the team has tweaked the French entry

“Our recent results are encouraging when sailing with slightly eased sheets, but these aren’t the kind of conditions which are shaping up for this next course! All the teams are still finding their feet a bit there and the close contact sailing will reveal any strengths and weaknesses. We’re on an upward spiral but that’s over short legs: we have yet to confirm our performance over a long course…”

“We’re tried to play around with Groupama 4’s longitudinal trim, as she’s a boat which sits lower at the stern for sailing in breezy conditions with sheets eased. We also have some more powerful sails for light airs, as our boat is the stiffest under sail: we’ve modified our trimming so as to make gains in terms of performance in the light breeze.”