At 1255 UTC today, Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) was first round Cape Horn with a 13 nautical mile (nm) lead over PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG. At 1900 UTC, Groupama led PUMA by 12.4 nm. However, as the two teams were celebrating rounding Cape Horn and putting the rigours of the Southern Ocean behind them, Team Telefónica were making new plans.
The Spanish team has re-evaluated their strategy for a pit stop in Ushuaia and instead have made new plans to stop at Cape Horn itself. Maxwell Cove, a small and well-protected inlet situated within the group of Wollaston islands, right at the heart of the Chilean Cape Horn national park will be their new destination. The change will avoid the 100-mile stretch up to Ushuaia.
Members of the shore team have already left Port Williams in a 50-foot steel boat and will meet the crew in the lee of the islands, where they will help to make the necessary reinforcements and repairs. The rules state that the team must stop for a minimum of 12 hours in order to receive outside assistance, and the team is confident of completing the work within that period.
Skipper Iker Martínez/ESP said today, “If all goes well, we will try to carry out the repairs without stopping off on land”. At 1900 UTC tonight, the team had just less than 170 nm to sail to the safety of the islands.
Even though Groupama and PUMA are 254 nm ahead, conditions for the second half of the leg to Itajaí are tricky for the leading pair. Strong tides and currents flow through the narrow Le Maire Strait between Staten Island and Tierra del Fuego, which if flowing against Groupama and PUMA, could give time back to Telefónica. In around three days, Groupama and PUMA will require a careful tactical strategy to avoid a high-pressure system blocking the path to Brazil, which could also benefit the Spanish team.
Meanwhile, a further 1714 nm back, Ian Walker and the crew of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are continuing to weigh up their options after a tortuous episode of boat fixing when delamination was detected in a mid-section of the hull on Thursday. Although the repair appears to have been successful, the crew is sailing the boat carefully. The third boat in the sick bay, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS), are making their way to Puerto Montt in Chile for repairs.