The battle of the red, green and blue boats in Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race is just finishing up in Lorient, France. The green boat, Groupama, has earned more points, and now has a comfortable but not unassailable lead for the overall race. The blue boat, Telefónica, keeps getting into trouble and has lost points. At the last in-port race in Lisbon, Portugal, she fouled Puma, one of the red boats at the start, and after doing a penalty turn she ended up finishing last and losing out on valuable points.
The short 1,950-mile "sprint" from Lisbon to Lorient saw many lead changes and a heavy weather run to the finish. Racing along in 40 knots of wind, the fleet ran at full throttle, and with the boats so close and the finish so important, the crews never had a chance of backing down. “It is that old question, when to pull back and when to keep pushing,” said skipper Chris Nicholson on the other red boat, Camper, during the leg. "You just have to judge things at the moment and keep pushing hard. At the moment things are alright, so we keep blasting along, chasing down the leading boats just a handful of miles away." The blue boat Telefónica must have hit the red line too many times – they broke both rudders with only 200 miles to go.
At the finish this morning, Groupama blasted in first with Camper second, Puma third, and Abu Dhabi fourth. As we post this story, Telefónica is still having trouble 45 miles out, with Sanya closing in on them. Telefónica’s troubles put Puma in second place overall. Kenny Read on Puma summed up the leg: “I hope I’m wrong, but I have a feeling we’ve seen the opportunity to win this race slipping away. Groupama struggled in the beginning. But they keep getting better. Good for them, bad for us."
See www.volvooceanrace.com for more.