July 29, 2021

Avoiding pirates, Groupama wins ocean race leg

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In this photograph supplied by Volvo Ocean Race, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, skippered by Ken Read from the USA, near the finish of leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Cape Town, South Africa, to Abu Dhabi, UAE on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012. (Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race photo via AP Images) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — French team Groupama earned its first stage victory in the Volvo Ocean Race on Wednesday, defeating overall leader Telefonica in a sprint to Abu Dhabi to complete the second leg.

The five-boat fleet set off on a 98-nautical-mile sprint from nearby Sharjah to finish a leg that began last month in Cape Town, South Africa. The boats initially sailed to a secret “safe haven” port in the Indian Ocean to avoid pirates before being shipped to the United Arab Emirates.

Groupama overtook Telefonica shortly before the finishing line to clinch the victory.

“We had one last opportunity downwind but we didn’t really believe in it,” said Groupama skipper Franck Cammas. “Then, with a gust, we managed to overtake them.”

Groupama’s crew had to patch up the $10-million boat with plastic tape to repair hull damage shortly before the sprint because normal repairs aren’t allowed during the race.

“This morning we were a little worried about the repair,” Cammas said. “Now, I think we were so fast we will leave it the way it is.”

Telefonica extended its overall lead over Camper, which finished third in the stage. American team Puma was fourth, ahead of Abu Dhabi in fifth.

Telefonica has 66 points in the overall standings, with Camper second on 58 and Groupama third on 42.

The next event will be an in-port race in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 13. Then its seven offshore legs and seven more in-port races before the round-the-world race finishes in July in Galway, Ireland.

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