• 10-MAR-2012

  • SOURCE: Volvo Ocean Race

Groupama Clinch Leg 4 into Auckland

Groupama sailing team claimed a dramatic Leg 4 victory on Saturday after the discovery of a hole in their bow threatened to sink their lead within 100 miles of the finish in Auckland, New Zealand.

The French team rallied in eight metre seas and 30 knot headwinds to isolate the leak and drain 1.5 tonnes of water before crossing the finish line at 10:33:47 UTC/23:33:47 local, more than 80 nautical miles ahead of their nearest competitor.

Skipper Franck Cammas was thrilled with the win and becoming the first French team to notch a victory in a Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race finish into Auckland, although 33 Export did win on handicap back in 1977-78.

"It's a great day for Groupama 4 and it's a great to arrive here first into Auckland,'' Cammas said. "I'm pretty sure we're going to have a good time here with all the sailing fans. It's a good place to win for sure."

Cammas, a first time Volvo Ocean Race competitor, said the race was won and lost on a bold decision made by navigator Jean-Luc Nélias.

"The key thing for this leg was to be quick and to make good decisions," he said. "We knew we had to do both of those things and we did. This is where we ended up.

Winning the unofficial race to be the first Kiwi home was elated Groupama bowman Brad Marsh, who flew a New Zealand flag overhead as the team were welcomed to Auckland's Viaduct Harbour by hundreds of family, friends and fans. Other international sailors on-board Groupama include Sweden's Martin Krite and Ireland's Damian Foxall.

With the win, Groupama have ended Team Telefónica's winning streak of three consecutive leg wins and claimed 30 points that will shoot them to the top of the leaderboard with a total of 103. But, barring any major incidents Team Telefónica will regain top spot when they finish later today, having begun Leg 4 with a 28 point lead on Groupama and 18 points ahead of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand.

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG won an epic battle for second place on Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Sunday, clinching the runner's up spot on a rainy morning in Auckland to complete a memorable comeback and secure their first offshore podium place in 2011-12.

Team Telefónica followed them in just under 50 minutes later for third after holding off CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand in a scrap that continued gybe-for-gybe all the way to the finish line.

Just around 93 seconds separated Telefónica, winners of the first three legs, and CAMPER -- a tiny margin after a leg that took the teams over 5,220 nautical miles from Sanya in China to the sailing-mad city of Auckland in New Zealand.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing came in just under 34 minutes later for fifth, with Team Sanya the sixth boat in just over 35 minutes after that.

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