May 19, 2012

Spain's Iker Martinez made his second costly error in the Volvo Ocean Race in-port series on Saturday, allowing his closest rival, France's Groupama, to close the gap in the standings.

Martinez's Telefonica crew leads Groupama by only seven points, with just 14 points separating the top four boats.

Martinez, an Olympic champion in 2004 and silver medalist in 2008, slumped from first to last in the previous in-port race in Brazil after rounding the wrong buoy. In Saturday's 8.2-nautical mile race off South Beach, he picked up a time error for bumping into a buoy.

The rest of the fleet took quick advantage to leave him 3 1/2 minutes behind by the end.

Abu Dhabi won the race, followed by Groupama. U.S.-based Puma overcame a desperate start in which it drifted in shifting wind to edge Camper of Spain/New Zealand for third.

Abu Dhabi has twice sustained major damage that forced it out of two legs on the 39,000 nautical-mile race. But the crew has displayed its skill in the in-port races by winning three of them.

"We've had a tough time of it. We wanted to show the world that Abu Dhabi hasn't given up. We're a good team, we're determined, and it feels great to win a race," skipper Ian Walker said.

The 3,590-nautical mile seventh leg to Lisbon begins Sunday.

Telefonica leads with 165 points, followed by Groupama with 158, Camper 152, Puma 151, Abu Dhabi 74 and Team Sanya of China 27.

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