After 15 days of nip and tuck battle between the two Spanish boats in the Volvo Iker Martinez at the helm of Telefonica added, by less than two minutes, second leg victory over Chris Nicholson’s Camper at the still undisclosed staging post from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.
The American-flagged Puma was holding a 22-mile advantage over France’s Groupama with, in fifth place a further 50 miles astern Abu Dhabi’s Azzam, skippered by British double Olympic medallist Ian Walker.
From the ‘safe haven’ at which the boats are finishing, they will then be shipped through any remaining danger from Somali pirates.
Eighty per cent. of the leg points are allocated on the finishing order there, with the remaining 20 per cent. up for grabs on the final sprint from Sharjah, where the crews will rejoin their yachts, to Abu Dhabi.
In Sydney, 88 boats started the 47th annual race to Hobart with favourable winds knowing that within 12 hours they would see a change in fortune to upwind sailing. Forecasters were warning of gusts up to 40 knots plus a pounding from hailstones. Leading the fleet, as it has for most of the last few years, was Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats.
What had hoped to be his principle rival, George David’s chartered 100-foot Rambler, had capsized during the Fastnet Race this summer. While the whole crew was saved in a miraculous story of well-schooled cool headedness and prompt action by the Irish rescue services, the boat was not ready to race.
Leading British entry, one of only six from Europe in a field reduced, according to the organising Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, by difficult economic times, was Alex Thomson in one of his Open 60s, Hugo Boss.