Leg 2 Twice as Fun Split in Two
The second Leg of the Volvo Ocean Race has come to an end in Abu Dhabi, 25 days, and many adventures, after the fleet left Cape Town in December.
Leg 2 was broken into two chapters to accommodate a special Stealth Zone designed by the race organizers to protect the racers from the infamous pirates that operate in a wide area off the Horn of Africa.
The first part of Leg 2 got off to a slow start as the fleet of six boats was essentially becalmed due to a high pressure area in the Indian Ocean. Low pressure fronts and storms off the coast of Madagascar gave two teams a chance to break out from the pack. The French team Groupama made East for higher winds and an early lead, while Team Sanya ploughed into a tropical storm, trying to get ahead, but suffered a broken mast, forcing the team to withdraw from its second straight leg.
As the remaining five boats entered the Doldrums, the low pressure area around the Equator characterized by light winds and squalls, Groupama enjoyed a 70 nautical mile lead, but couldn't hold on to it. The Spanish team Telefónica, followed by CAMPER, managed to carve an unusually swift passage through the Doldrums, and the two teams dogged each other to the end of the first stage on the day after Christmas, when Telefónica pulled off a nail-biting victory. PUMA came in third to the safe haven, followed by a disappointed Groupama and finally Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
After reaching the secret mid-point destination in the Indian Ocean, all five remaining boats were loaded onto a freighter for transport to the kick-off point for the second section of Leg 2, off the Sharjah coast in the northern United Arab Emirates.
On January 4 the five boats still racing in Leg 2 launched on a 98-nautical-mile sprint to Abu Dhabi. Telefónica managed an early lead but in the end it was Groupama that crossed the finish line one minute ahead of the Spaniards. The rest of the field was made up as CAMPER came in third, followed by PUMA and finally Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
Telefónica's first stage victory netted them the overall triumph for the second leg with 29 points, followed by CAMPER with 24, PUMA has 19, Groupama 18 and Abu Dhabi 10. The overall race leaderboard is still dominated by the teams that were not forced to drop out in Leg 1. Telefónica has a commanding lead with 66 points, followed by CAMPER with 58, Groupama has 42, PUMA 28, Abu Dhabi 19 and finally Team Sanya brings up the rear with four points.