Groupama back in business
The French team were feeling the pressure late on Wednesday as they slowed to a worrying 10 knots -- seven knots less than second-placed Telefónica -- after hitting a weather trough north west of New Zealand.
Their lead was cut by more than 50 nautical miles in the process but by 0100 on Thursday they had picked up new winds, just as their rivals were starting to slow down.
“We’ve now found some wind, which is a much better sign for us,” said Groupama watch captain Thomas Coville.
“We are thinking about the victory a little bit…but it’s far from over. We will live in the moment, each hour and each watch, and we’ll see at the end how that plays out.
“A race is only over once you have crossed the finish line.”
After taking a huge chunk out of Groupama’s lead, spirits were running high on Telefónica -- and navigator Andrew Cape said they had not given up on their quest for a fourth consecutive leg win coming into Auckland.
“Anything could happen at the moment,” he said. “Groupama might have tacked too early, or might not have got out into the new breeze yet.
“They’re only 100 miles away and we still have the coast of New Zealand to get down – anything can happen there”.