AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Telefonica’s hopes of sweeping the first four legs in the global Volvo Ocean Race looked in doubt on Sunday after the Spanish boat fell 138 nautical miles off the lead.
Skipper Iker Martinez was nearly flawless in winning the first three of nine legs in the nine-month race over 39,000 nautical miles that ends July in Galway, Ireland.
But Telefonica has struggled in the 5,220-nautical mile leg from Sanya, China, to Auckland, New Zealand.
A difficult passage through the Solomon Islands in the Pacific over the past two days only slowed up the Spaniards as they chased leaders Groupama of France. Franck Cammas’ crew leads second-place Puma by 80 miles.
The fleet of six has just over 1,500 nautical miles still to sail to Auckland. They are expected to arrive there by next weekend.