volvo ocean race amory ross puma

Too Close to Call Between Puma and Telefónica, Azzam Hitches a Ride on a Cargo Ship [VIDEO]

Rob Almeida
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April 6, 2012

Abu Dhabi’s Volvo Ocean Race entry, Azzam, is in the Chilean port of Puerto Montt today preparing their 70-foot yacht for a departure to Itajaí, Brazil on Saturday, April 7.  They expect to arrive around April 16, in time for the Itajai In-Port Race.

The team retired from Leg 5 at 1000 UTC on April 2 after skipper Ian Walker conceded that damage to the mid-section of the port side of Azzam sustained in the Southern Ocean put the boat and team in jeopardy.

“It’s a sizeable portion of the boat, it’s nearly three, four metres long, 600 to 700 millimeters wide, so it’s going to entail cutting the inside skin off and the core that’s failed,” Morgan said.

“We’ve got new core being made, it’s thermo core with the correct shape, we’ll stick that in and reconstitute the inside skin on top.

Meanwhile, racing as fast as they can up the east coast of South America in an all out sprint to the finish are Telefónica and Puma.

volvo ocean race amory ross puma
PUMA's Mar Mostro buries its bow in wave. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand, to Itajai, Brazil. (c) Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

Parked at a dock over 400 miles away from the leaders Groupama and Puma only a few days ago, Telefónica has staged an incredible comeback while race leader Puma found themselves on the wrong side of pressure.  Routing models show both boats to arrive at the finish line at nearly the same time.

Via VolvoOceanRace.com

PUMA media crewmember Amory Ross said while the leaders were concerned about Telefónica’s gains, there was little they could do to stop the advance.

“We’re doing our absolute best but there’s something very disconcerting about watching your lead evaporate sched by sched to a boat thriving in conditions we can’t reach,” he said.

“But therein lies the “bright side:” there is nothing we can really do about Telefónica, so we’ve been focusing on sailing our own boat as best we know how.

“We’re finally coming down, they’re finally coming up, and there’s a good chance sunrise tomorrow will bring some new company on the horizon.

“It’s going to make for a very exciting final day of racing!”

Telefónica MCM Diego Fructuoso said his team were revelling in the thrill of the chase. “We are now gaining lots of miles on our rival PUMA,” he said. “We all have confidence in the boat and we keep getting close.”

The estimated time of arrival for both teams is around 1600 UTC today.

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