Nobody could have envisaged a win so sweet, nor a finish as dramatic, with 40 knots of breeze turning out to greet the winners. Following 21 days, 5 hours, 14 minutes and 25 seconds of intense, non-stop ocean racing, the Spanish boat “Telefónica” is the brand new winner of the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. This win means that the team add 30 points to their scoresheet and are now at the top of the general rankings for the round the world regatta.
At 18:14:25 GMT the crew skippered by double Olympic medallist Iker Martínez crossed the finishing line at Cape Town (South Africa), with one of the city's most emblematic features bearing witness: the imposing and impressive Table Mountain. On board there's the sense of a win which was worked for: the right tactics, fast sailing and the boat in one piece.
21 days, 5 hours, 14 minutes and 25 seconds
They've now put 6,500 miles of sailing behind them from Alicante in Spain to Cape Town. The adventure began on the 5th of November with conditions in the Mediterranean making things difficult for the fleet and unfortunately stopping two of the entries dead in their tracks.
There was, of course, that hand to hand battle between the Spanish entry and “Puma”, on a match race which was fought out across 4,000 miles. As Pepe Ribes admitted, it kept the “Telefónica” crew at 110% the whole way. Unfortunately a broken mast on board the American entry cut short the fascinating duel.
The South Atlantic dished up some very strong winds for “Telefónica”, giving them a push that saw them notch up the fastest speeds so far on the leg. On Thursday 24th November the boat logged 549 miles over 24 hours.
It was in these conditions over the final days of the leg that the Spanish boat's leadership of the race was confirmed. Uninterrupted from the 18th of November the win grew in crescendo fashion to the moment the yacht raced across the finishing line.
Not only did the yacht sailing under the flags of the Real Club Naútico de Sanxenxo and the Real Club de Regatas de Alicante Spanish yacht clubs know when to apply pressure, but the crew also knew at what point in the script to ease off the gas.
A project years in the making
In the 2005-2006 edition of the regatta Team Telefónica with “movistar” set a milestone in Spanish sailing by becoming the first ever Spanish team to win an ocean leg in February of 2006 between Melbourne (Australia) and Wellington (New Zealand). In the 2008-2009 edition of the event the Spanish team won no less than three legs (Singapore, China and Russia) and took the lead in coastal races, being the last team to have won a Volvo Ocean Race leg and reaching the final podium in third place.
The team have over 130,000 miles (240,000 km), over six years behind them between training and racing since they kicked off that first round the world regatta from Vigo, to becoming the first ever Spanish team to lead the world's toughest and most extreme regatta at the first leg.
This historical victory has been eight years in the making, from when an initiative by a Galician skipper and the CEO of the Spanish team, Pedro Campos, put Spain on track to recapturing a tradition dating back to 1981 with Joaquín Coello's “Licor 43”, now 30 years ago.
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