And so the day has finally come. At 14:00 local time, Spanish boat “Telefónica” with double Olympic medallist Iker Martínez as Skipper, kicked off her first offshore leg of sailing's most extreme regatta: the Volvo Ocean Race. Ahead lie some 6,500 miles (12,038 km) between the ports of Alicante and Cape Town, South Africa on a leg that is likely to last some 20 days. In total it will be 480 hours of maximum competition in which a rest or a hot meal will be an utter privilege and during which one must be prepared for the toughest situations at any moment. In “Team Telefónica”'s mind there is only one objective: to try to win the prestigious round the world regatta for Spain.
Early this morning there was a buzz around the Race Village at the Port of Alicante. There were people everywhere perfectly kitted out in the colourful uniforms of the six teams taking part in this new edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. The “Team Telefónica” supporters, behind the Spanish entry in this prestigious round the world challenge had prepared for the occasion, which made the “Telefónica” crew smile as many flags and signs were waving as the “Telefans” shouted words of support to the Spanish team.
“I am very happy and excited. We are looking forward to getting out there, to being able to set off and start racing. Loads of people have come to see us, to say goodbye and wish us luck, the truth is that we are really looking forward to this. We've been thinking about this for a few years now and well.... the fact that the time has come is very special and beautiful thing”, said Iker Martínez.
“A tide of blue”
Children, fathers, mothers, wives, partners... The relatives of the eleven “Telefónica” sailors gathered at the quayside from 11:00amd to say goodbye to the crew members, who were preparing with big smiles on their faces to set off on the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. Ahead are many days of gruelling competition in which contact with family and friends will be very limited indeed: the odd phone call or email will be the only news the families will have from their sons, husbands and fathers.
The “Telefans” certainly caused quite a stir with a tide of blue t.shirts worn by friends and family from all over Spain and beyond who had come to Alicante to support the crew. In particular those who had come to support the young Cantabrians (from the Spanish region of Cantabria) on the team: Antonio 'Ñeti' Cuervas-Mons and Pablo Arrarte.
“I'm really happy right now as my whole family and all my friends are here... they are really incredible. Lots of people have come to wave me off and that has really recharged my batteries because we have a tough leg ahead...”, said Cuervas-Mons with a beaming smile on his second departure round the world from Alicante.
Signs, songs, scarves, flags... they had it all going on!
HRH Prince Felipe of Asturias, on board “Telefónica”
“Telefónica” cast off first at 12:15 local time with a very special guest on board; HRH Prince Felipe of Spain who had stepped on board the Spanish boat accompanied by Pedro campos, the CEO of Team Telefónica.
The VO 70 set course for the starting line positioned opposite the Port of Alicante so that fans could see each and every minute of the start of the round the world regatta from El Postiguet beach.
At 14:00 local time, with Swiss timing, HRH Prince Felipe of Asturias fired the starting gun for the first offshore leg of the round the world regatta. Before setting course for the Mediterranean the boats sailed a coastal course to the delight of some 60,00 onlookers, according to figures from the Generalitat Valenciana. Watching from land and sea the crowds gathered near the Port of Alicante to wave the fleet off on their adventure.
Winds of 25 knots with gusts of up to 30 to say goodbye to these offshore mileage monsters. There's no doubt that these were conditions fitting of a Volvo Ocean Race start. The boats sailed between buoys opposite El Postiguet beach as well as passing Albufereta beach and Cabo de las Huertas, returning back to the Volvo Ocean Race zone and then on a free course out to sea.
“Telefónica” made a good start in a struggle with “Camper Team New Zealand” and “Puma”. After less than an hour of racing the Volvo Open 70s left the waters close to the city of Alicante and headed out to sea, where the crew really wants to be.
As Helmsman on “Telefónica” Jordi Calafat said: “We are looking forward to starting and to seeing if what we've been doing has been right and to see what feedback we get from the boat. Over the next ten days we'll really start to see what the boat can give us to make the next nine months pleasant...”
In the 17:00 (local time) position report “Telefónica” with Iker Martínez is leading the fleet, sailing at a speed of 16.5 knots followed closely by “Puma”, just 0.1 miles behind and French boat “Groupama”.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 1
ALICANTE (SPAIN) – CAPE TOWN (SOUTH AFRICA): 6,500 miles
Day 1 – 17:00 local time – 5th of November 2011
1st Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 6,447 miles from the leg finish
2nd Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), 0.1 miles from leader
3rd Groupama Sailing Team (Frank Cammas), 0.2 miles
4th Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 0.6 miles
5th Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 0.6 miles
6th Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), 3.2 miles
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