Early this morning neither the wind nor rain wanted to miss out on the run up to the start of the first in-port race of the Volvo Ocean Race, held today in Alicante waters. When the start gun fired however, the wind dropped back, putting the six entries on high alert for any every gust that might come their way.
Short course with little breeze
“Telefónica” set off from the Port of Alicante pontoons just after 11:30 this morning (local time) and set course for the racecourse. The crew was accompanied by three on board guests, including Team Telefónica CEO Pedro Campos. Two further guests joined him on board and enjoyed a day sailing with “Telefónica”: Santiago Fernández Valbuena, President of Telefónica Latin America and Rafael del Pino, President of the company Ferrovial and Agroman.
With Iker Martínez at the wheel, “Telefónica” crossed the starting line following the start shot given at 14:00 local time. Ahead of them was a course that ended up being made up of four legs as the race was shortened towards the end due to the lack of breeze.
That was a running theme throughout the course. In spite of the forecasts and the early morning winds in Alicante, in the end it was only light, of some 6-8 knots at the beginning of the regatta, dropping down even lower than that at certain points.
The Spanish boat didn't make the best start, taking just over 13 minutes to reach the first mark and doing so second from last.
At the second mark things got even more tricky for the Team Telefónica crew as they rounded it behind the rest. However, if there's one thing the “Telefónica” crew have, it's drive. “Telefónica” was the only entry with the spinnaker hoisted and some good moves by Martínez's guys paid off as they climbed positions, getting closer to “Team Sanya” and “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand”.
With very little wind “Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing” with Briton Ian Walker had opened up a good gap with her rivals taking the lead in the first scored race in this eleventh edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, following 53 minutes and 48 seconds of competition.
Meanwhile, “Telefónica” continued her fight for third place with “Sanya” and “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand”. A port-starboard with the Chinese entry put Iker Martínez and the guys in checkmate as the judges took the decision to apply a penalty almost at the finishing line as they watched all the other entries finish ahead of them.
A week to the start
With his typical drive and natural leadership abilities, Iker Martínez knows that the important part is still to come and that there's a lesson to be learned in everything. That's what the Basque Skipper is focussing on and that's the message to his whole crew: “We've got to look at the positive and that is definitely that in a very short time we'll be off. We have a long leg ahead that we know is incredibly important, so we have to look at that and put everything else aside.”
And the next date he's focussing on? Next Saturday “Telefónica” will set off from Alicante and will head for Cape Town, South Africa on a 6,500 nautical miles course across the Atlantic Ocean. It will be the real baptism of fire... and mentally, Team Telefónica is already there.
QUOTES FROM IKER MARTÍNEZ, SKIPPER ON “TELEFÓNICA”
On the regatta today:
It was a complicated race, but I think that the winning boat sailed an impeccable race. I think “Abu Dhabi” made a great start and they were exactly where they needed to be and so congratulations to them.
It's been a very tough day for us with a result that wasn't one we wanted. The start was tricky and we rarely start on a port tack, which switched the game up totally for us and we got ahead of ourselves slightly. That's where the regatta got really sticky for us. From there we managed to push forward well and the breeze gave us the chance to get ahead and we took it. We were fighting for third place when, with just a short distance to go, things got sticky again with a couple of manoeuvres and “Camper Team New Zealand” caught up with us and managed to get ahead of us. After that we got a penalty with “Sanya” and all our chances of staying in the race slipped away, so that was a shame. There's still a long way to go...
On the penalty “Telefónica” incurred at the end of the race:
With this race there's direct judging, so the Race Committee decided that if “Sanya” didn't change course we would have crashed. In my opinion the judges weren't well-positioned, because that simply wasn't the case. When the judges are there it's all part of the game, and that's just the way it is.
Scoreboard Alicante In-port race.
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 00:53:48
2. Puma powered by Berg (Ken Read), +14:14
3. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +16:28
4. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +17:00
5. Groupama Sailing Team (Frank Cammas), +17:29
6. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +18:26
Provisional Rankings Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012.
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 6 points
2. Puma powered by Berg (Ken Read), 5 points
3. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 4 points
4. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), 3 points
5. Groupama Sailing Team (Frank Cammas), 2 points
6. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 1 point
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