ANDREW CAPE. Navigator.
“I’m feeling good. I think we’re going to do it. I think tactically it’s not a bad leg and weather-wise it’s not perfect, but the biggest danger in this leg is being hit by ships. Apart from that I feel confident in the leg. We’ve got a good boat but an exceptional crew – the best in the world I think. That’s probably our best strength and how we’re going to pull this one together. This leg is a random leg, lots of clouds and things you can’t control. We’re Team Telefónica – we’re going to work hard and try to win.”
ZANE GILLS. Bowman.
“I’m looking forward to going racing against the other guys again. I think we’re prepared well and we’ve got a good boat but there’s still a long way to go. This leg can be difficult, especially for the bowman with lots of sail changes.”
PEPE RIBES. Boat Captain of “Telefónica”.
From experience in the previous edition of the regatta I know that this is a fairly tough leg. In the previous edition we all finished pretty close together. Firstly you've got a lot of almost upwind sailing, just slightly open, but after the Strait of Malacca with the lulls everyone will get bunched back together. In 2008 we were all bunched together and then it was a sprint to Singapore. Now, after that point we've got another 1,100 miles ahead. I think that here to Malacca will be a test of speed for all of the boats and then after that it's a question of luck, or whatever you want to call it: a bit of wind from whatever direction, a lull, wind coming at you... there's a pretty tricky area to get through in front of Singapore with lots of shipping traffic where we will have an obligatory routing to follow and then after that we've got 1,100 nautical miles of close-hauling to China. Me hope the monsoon won't be too tough on us and we may get 30-35 knots of breeze, but we're hoping for a bit less than that...
The feeling when a few boats get past you at the end it's not the best one, but it was only a short course. We were at the front at Abu Dhabi and then we sailed upwind fairly well, but then there was a fast beam reach with all of the boats sailing at more than 20 knots for three or four hours.
It was just on the last downwind stretch that we had a couple of problems and as we were all pretty bunched up “Abu Dhabi”, “Puma” and “Groupama” got past us. There wasn't much in it, we were just behind them and that's very frustrating, but these things happen.
On the other hand, today we also got ourselves another point on “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand”, in second place, which is of course a good thing. I think that the other thing to be positive about is the fact that we are setting off in a good position: leading and with a lead of a good few points, especially considering that conditions here don't really suit us.
Right now what's worrying me the most is the whole process of getting the boat up onto the ship, moving her because another ship is coming, and at 8 am tomorrow we've got to move the boats for a second time because another boat's coming along before we load the boat because of the wind... Tomorrow morning that will be our biggest worry: getting the boat to the offloading point without a hitch.
On the sail damaged on the dash:
The sail hit the water and has been a little damaged, but these are very resistant sails and I don't see it being a problem there. It is just a matter of time and the guys are getting it fixed now. It will be fine and I'm sure it will be in perfect shape to be used once they've fixed it. It's routine, they have to do it and it's not something that concerns me as I'm sure it will be fine.
The boats have been unloaded from the ship, which has it's own cranes for the job so it was fairly straightforward and was done inside the port, so that meant flat waters too. We completed the whole process without any problems and ours was the first boat off. We brought it down and now we are checking that everything's ok and getting the boat back into shape for racing. All of the sails were stowed for the transfer and the mast was loosened because it had to be tipped forward so that it wouldn't touch the crane... It was a series of small but essential things for this type of journey. It won't take long for the boat to be ready and tomorrow morning we'll be taking on the second stage of Leg 2, which is short but in proportion it counts a lot.
We are at a port near a city called Sharjah and we've got some 90 miles to cover and with those we'll complete the original regatta course, which was set to finish in Abu Dhabi. Once we get there we'll be following the original plan: a few days off the water to give the boat a good once-over and then back on the water for the training race, then the Pro-Am and after that it's the in-port race which is where you can really get some points and it's the important one. Then we take the start of a leg again with the opposite but similar programme to the one we've just been through.
The forecast is promising for tomorrow because we are expected to get quite a lot of breeze and we're in waters where they don't usually get very much and it looks like it will stick around for a couple of days, which is very unusual and we could get it just as we are finishing the leg tomorrow. We hope that's the way things go and we get the 20 to 25 knots expected and we can finish the short leg quickly and well.
It's true that we are still on Leg 2, but for us the second leg is over, it was over four thousand miles and when they were done that was it for us. In my mind this is more like an in-shore race, some 90 miles and a race lasting a day, and I think that's the way to do it. It's also true that when it comes to points it's quite a different story. It's a day of racing and we set off from here tomorrow morning and we'll be in Abu Dhabi by the afternoon. It'll be very intense, just like a coastal race. That's how we are dealing with it.
Once there we'll still be point leaders, because the points available are enough that even if we have a bad race the second placed entry can't get to us, so we'll have to enjoy being in the lead for now when we are in Abu Dhabi. That said, with the points in play it's always better to get more than to let the competition get any closer and we have to make the most of every small leg. Then we also have to be careful as with every start when we are all close together there can be some sticky situations. You have to start strong, but be very careful at the same time.
There are only a few miles left until the end of this first stretch of the leg and we've been trying to overtake "Camper" for some 15 hours now, but they're defending in true match-racing style. We tried to get past last night on the leeward side but they pushed forward and we just missed the chance. We almost took the position from them but it wasn't to be. We had seven knots, a wide windward course with waves. Basically they were their conditions.
"Telefónica" was happy in them and we were able to put up a fight. The second attempt was on the windward side. We were almost parallel to them but they managed to hold onto their position and a bit later we tried again on the leeward side. That time we were clearly in front but a gust came along and pushed them back alongside us and then they managed to push forward again to the windward side.
We are going to great efforts to get past them and this will be the fourth big push, this time on the windward side. We have a bit more time now and we've still got the Code Zero up and 6 to 8 knots of breeze, the keep up and down and the guys in full swing at the bow and the stern going non-stop. Maybe this will be the one and it probably won't be easy, so I hope we'll get some luck come our way.
It doesn't look as if the conditions will change much until the finish. Behind us "Puma" and "Groupama" are pretty far away. If nothing strange happens we should only really have to worry about the duel with "Camper", but just in case we've always got an eye on them and we'll see what happens.
The boat seems happy to me today...
I'd row with my eyelashes if I thought it might make a difference!! Come on! Come on! Come on!
If all goes well, these will be my last lines of news on this first stretch of the leg. We think we'll finish as the sun sets. Right now we are really fighting hard with "Team New Zealand" for the lead. The boats are just 100 metres from one another so you can imagine what it's like: everyone working full-on with no rest. Every metre, every gust is critical.
It's been an intense, but incredible night. It was a great temperature with no spray, so you could be out on deck in shorts and a T shirt. The sky was clear and full of stars.
The weather forecasts for today are the same: little breeze to the finish. We've tried to get past them on both sides but we haven't been able to. We are really close and we hope that we'll get lucky on one of our tries and get in front.
I imagine this finish won't quite be like the Cape Town finish with crowds awaiting us. That was really something you never forget. That's just the way this leg is, and we won't be getting the welcome we deserve.
Here we are, still racing hard. Our Christmas Eve dinner had to be cancelled. “Telefónica” started going really fast and was very bumpy, so it was impossible to cook the pasta and we went for some freeze dried food instead. Anyway, at least that way we didn't think too much about what day it was. We took the opportunity to phone our families, which was really exciting for us all.
Father Christmas visited the boat today, but he only brought things for two of the crew: Iker and Pepe. Maybe the rest of us haven't been good enough... or maybe our presents weighed too much, and since everything around here has to be light, we'll get them when we get to Abu Dhabi!
The battle with Team New Zealand to win the leg is going to be dreadful. There's hardly anything left now for the finish so we've really got to go for it. There are lots of sailing restrictions, such as the safety zone set out by the organisers and other geographical limitations which I think might give us the opportunity to overtake our rivals. We are in second place now, but we are very close to the leader.
We hope we can do it.
Happy Christmas from Telefónica,
Our Christmas Eve is going to be quite tough and very different to any other Christmas Eve in my life. Right now we're in a zone of lulls, fighting with Groupama and Team New Zealand to win the leg. We are the boat most to the East, which was the option we thought was the least risky at the time, although as Iker says, once you're here you always need a bit of good luck... Groupama chose the furthest western option and Team New Zealand chose to sail more through the middle.
The heat is pretty intense, I'd say more so than on the first leg. Almost all of us have lost some weight, but that's normal. Between the heat, adapting to the heat, the whole watch system, tiredness... We are hoping that we'll be able to rest and recover in Abu Dhabi.
There's nothing special for today. It's better not to think about it because it'll only get us down. We'll keep on working as hard as we can, we'll have some pasta for dinner, which is the best grub we have on board. As a special treat we'll have some Spanish “turrón” (like nougat), that we've been given as a present for today. If we can, we'll try to call home to send kisses and best wishes to all of the families.
From here on board “Telefónica” we wish you all a very happy Christmas Eve!
MCM Team Telefónica
We are here at that critical point in racing. I don't think you guys can see the boats any more via the web (only the distances from the leader) and that's a real shame because there's some red hot racing going on. The race could be anyone's. We hope it'll go to us...
Jordi tells me that it can be quite incredible... you can be working the whole leg and then a lull can come along and all that hard work gets binned. I trust that won't happen to us. We are in second place and I'm hoping for at least that finishing position. It looks like tomorrow will be the most complicated day so far for "Telefónica". So our Christmas Eve will be special, just in a different way.
In other news there's a lot of heat and not much breeze at all, so when we go out on deck it's shorts and T shirts, without all of the sailing gear. It's great, but once you head back down inside there's quite a smell waiting for you. It's quite hard to sleep and to use the computer. The rashes that cropped up on the first leg are back. We are drinking loooooooooads of water, which will help us to stay on top form and not to get ill.
Warm regards and a Happy Christmas!
MCM Team Telefónica
I am writing to you from the oven that is "Telefónica". As I mentioned yesterday, the temperature is climbing fast. I really hope it's not going to get much hotter! We've all got our light sailing shoes on (goodbye to the boots) and inside the boat everyone's wearing the lightest clothing they can. There's no need for a sleeping bag now. I prefer heat to cold, but it is starting to get quite tough out here.
In racing news, Groupama's broken away a bit. It looks like they are reaping the rewards of the earlier call to go further south. Anyway, there are still the Doldrums to get through, so they can't sit back too much. We continue to battle it out with the Americans and Team New Zealand. Right now we are in third, but pretty close to Puma. We hope we can catch them!
We celebrated Ñeti's birthday today. We joked around with him and because it's the 22nd today, the day of the big Christmas lottery draw in Spain, we joked with him about his mum hitting the jackpot with a prize like him! He got sent lots of presents and among them was some cake and some chocolates. They were lovely! (Thanks María!)
Here we are, getting shaken around on this roller coaster that "Telefónica" has turned into. It looks like we'll get more of this tomorrow and by Thursday we'll be hitting the more complicated area where there's less breeze. "Groupama" has stretched her lead out some more and we hope she doesn't get too far away and that we can give her chase a bit further ahead. The others are still fairly nearby and we are fighting all the time.
The crew are in good spirits and they are working hard. The sea temperature this afternoon was 25ºC so the crosswinds are more pleasant. As soon as the breeze begins to drop I'm sure we'll be shedding the layers.
Christmas is coming and we are not really aware of it. We live in our little racing bubble where the only things that matter are miles, the breeze, the sails, our rivals and the angles... Personally I like to be at home at this time of year, and I imagine that goes for all of us, but living this experience won't be too bad either!
Conditions on board are generally quite good, it’s just a very wet angle we’re sailing. We’ve got about 80 degrees true wind at the moment and we’re doing about 22 knots boat speed. There’s plenty of spray coming over the deck. We all look forward to getting off watch and giving our eyes a rest. With all the spray our eyes are pretty red raw at the moment.
It’s quite good being back in the mix with PUMA. Everyone counts down the time until the next sched to see whether we’ve lost or gained. It’s not just Puma – Camper are right behind us too, and Groupama have gone right round the outside of everyone. It’s anyone’s game at the moment. We’re still sailing the boat 100 per cent – we haven’t really changed much.
I haven’t really thought about it to be honest. I think it’ll be fine. It’s not the first Christmas I have spent at sea. I guess it’s a chance for some clean underwear! I think everyone’s just going to take it easy, it’s another sailing day. We’re out here for a reason. I guess the best bit is you get to spend Christmas with ten of your mates. We’ll wait to see if Diego has packed anything else away for us but it will be business as usual.
If I was back home I would be eating a lot of food, having a massive Christmas lunch then going to bed early. Then I’d watch the Sydney to Hobart Race on Boxing Day. I’m normally away for Christmas though, working or sailing somewhere.
I don’t really notice the age gap. It’s great to have the older guys here because of their experience but we’re all here for a reason. There’s no real generation gap. There’s always plenty of good stories going around.
Here on "Telefónica" we are really sorry about "Sanya"'s rig damage. That's just the way it is in this sport and they tried to go for a win in the leg knowing the risks they were taking.
Right now there's a pretty exciting situation with four boats almost in parallel: "Groupama" is furthest windward, then "Puma" followed by us on "Telefónica" and then "Camper" with Team New Zealand furthest leeward. "Abu Dhabi" is coming in from behind and we mustn't forget about them, especially since anything can happen once we get to the Doldrums. We are running well and it's time to push. As "Flaco" (Santi Lange) would say: "Vamos carajo!" (A Latin American expression for 'come on!').
Life on board has got a bit tricky again. I just tried to make myself some cereals and it was impossible, as everything went everywhere because of a wave. We are really getting shaken up on here.
Of course, it meant that I had to clean everything up afterwards and I was left with no cereals and a cloth in hand.
Everything's more difficult: writing an email, getting dressed, sleeping, going to the toilet... But it doesn't matter too much as we are pretty used to it by now.
Cape says that we'll be in a similar situation tomorrow. After a tough week and so many changes in position it looks like the leg will be decided right at the end. I didn't believe my crew mates when they first told me that's what would happen, but it really does look like that's going to be the case.
We've crossed the transition zone at last! We are sailing with northeasterly breeze and we hope to be doing so for a while. We'd been trying to get to this breeze for some days, but every time we'd find that we couldn't break through the zone of lulls which moved with us to the east.
After a night of good sailing dawn broke and we laid eyes on two of our rivals: the Team New Zealand guys and Puma. It's always exciting to actually see the competition.
Right now the fleet is split into three groups: we're with team New Zealand on Camper, Puma and Abu Dhabi in the middle of the racecourse; the eastern option has been taken by Groupama and the team to take the option north earlier than anyone else was Team Sanya. That last option is pretty risky because they are heading for an area where there is a lot of wind and after that they need to go east. It seems that they can take more risks than most, given that they are the only team with a boat from the previous edition, so the boat's something of an outsider to start with.
The sun's out and the sky is clear. We've taken this opportunity to dry some of our clothes. We haven't taken our boots off yet because the heat hasn't kicked in, but the sunshine has definitely made a marked improvement to our quality of life.
Diego Fructuoso MCM Team Telefónica