Yet again the time came for the crew on the Spanish boat to say goodbye to their families, friends and colleagues who were gathered tightly on the quayside of the city port to say goodbye to the fleet. As the overall leader in the Volvo Ocean Race standings and winners of Cape Town's in-port race, “Telefónica” was the last boat to cast off to rounds of applause and hoots as they made their way over to the unpredictable Table Bay racecourse.
The six Volvo Open 70s competing in the second leg warmed up in the Bay, however unfortunately the low breeze didn't allow the true potential of these boats, designed for ocean conditions, to shine through.
The start is here
Despite the lack of pressure, the organisers fired the starting gun on time. Before heading out on a free course to the open sea, “Telefónica” and the rest of the fleet sailed an eleven nautical miles course between buoys. The imposing influence of Table Mountain is always a handicap in these waters, throwing up very different wind pressures in the bay.
Iker Martínez and his guys didn't make the start they'd hoped to, with one of the mainsail's battens rendering the boat powerless and therefore leaving her lagging behind rivals. Aussie bowman Zane Gills climbed up the mast to free the batten from it's convex form and to help it get into its concave shape so that the mainsail could give “Telefónica” her full potential speed.
Following an hour or so of racing, the fleet disappeared into the open sea with “Abu Dhabi” in the lead. “Telefónica” is now sailing towards the Cape of Good Hope and forecasts are pointing towards a difficult first 48 to 72 hours with the fleet suffering with the breeze coming at them and big seas.
QUOTES TEAM TELEFÓNICA - START OF LEG 2: CAPE TOWN – ABU DHABI
IKER MARTÍNEZ. Skipper.
A general view of the leg:
This is a tricky leg on many fronts and among those there's the sense of anticipation surrounding the whole subject of piracy. In sporting terms things are difficult, as the starts here are usually given with a lot of breeze. In fewer days you're South and there's a lot of wind down there, as we saw at the end of Leg 1, so you have to really run with it and try not to break anything, which is a difficult balance to strike.
After the first leg the boats are always more prepared. The crews are always in better shape and it will be tough physically and tough on the boat, which you also have to keep in mind.
Further ahead we'll reach an area with less breeze and it'll be a different sail there, so this will be a pretty all-round leg in terms of meteorological conditions.
Then there's the whole issue of the pirates, which obviously we're not to happy about, but we are trying not to think about it too much. We try to focus on the fact that the organisers have the issue under control and that no problems are going to crop up.
On the leg being split into two and the heavy ship operation:
The first stretch of the leg will make up 80% of the total points on offer, so that means we are preparing for that first stretch, which is a start with more breeze, later we'll cross the Equator and then a small stretch up to the safe haven port where she'll be loaded up.
After that there's a pretty significant logistical challenge. We've got to get the boat loaded, the ship has to leave and in a few days the boats have to be unloaded. The crews have to be flown out, we'll all be taking planes to the set down point where the boats will be unloaded and then there'll be a second scored stretch which will be worth 20%.
We don't usually have to this sort of thing when we race, but if that's what the organisers think is safest and best then we have to get on with it and adapt to the situation. Yet again it's a case of taking care of the boat, and not just whilst sailing. A crane isn't the best thing for a boat – her natural habitat is the water or her cradle on shore and even when we go from water to cradle we are always careful and pretty scared... We'll just have to do things as best we can.
On whether leading adds extra pressure:
I only have positive things to say about the fact that we are leading, really. The pressure on Team Telefónica today is no greater or no less than the pressure before starting the whole regatta or after the in-port at Alicante.
We've always wanted to do this regatta really well and we've demanded the maximum from ourselves as a consequence. We want to do well, and that's it. Everyone demands the maximum from both themselves and from the others.
For me it's like we are at the start again. The points we've got are goof and it's been a boost and we are all very happy, but as soon as we got in here we were already thinking about the next leg and we don't want to underestimate our rivals at all: their talent and their preparation. We've got to think that we are back where we were when we left Alicante and the aim has to be the same that we had then: to make the podium and to be up in the front three throughout, which is where you can win. So that's what we are going for!
PEPE RIBES. Boat Captain on “Telefónica”.
This is quite a special leg because we are setting off from here very close to the roaring forties. Normally the start is against the breeze with strong winds. That means that the boats are going to suffer a lot over the first 48 to 72 hours. We then get as far South as we can to pick up the westerly winds and to try to run as fast as we can with the breeze from that direction. After that it's up North to cross the Southern trades first and the doldrums after that. Then we'll get the Northern trades again. Tactically it's a very complex leg, especially for the boat's speed.
On the anti-piracy plan:
The leg will be divided into two because of the danger posed in the areas where the pirates are. I think that it's a good measure to avoid any of us being attacked by pirates. What's been going on in these areas over the last few years seems pretty serious indeed, and since we are all in the same situation it's not going to affect the competition.
On whether being leaders overall affects how they take on the next leg:
We were competitive in the first leg and we've made some changes to the boat to make sure that's the case for the second leg. Also there are boats that we haven't seen sailing across all the different conditions yet and now we are really going to get lots of different conditions. We have to keep on fighting mile for mile and we'll have to see how fast the boats that suffered damage in the last leg are and how competitive they are across different conditions. It's almost like being at the first leg again.
JORDI CALAFAT. Helmsman and Sail Programme Coordinator.
Just like on the last leg there is an exclusion zone on the coast of Somalia and at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. We'll get to the Safe Haven Port and the boat will be loaded onto the heavy ship and we'll catch a place. It's all a bit confusing but it is for our safety. I certainly wouldn't like to come across any Captain Sparrows out there...
If there's extra pressure being at the top:
No, there's no extra pressure. It's very early still and there are still so many points to play for. The important thing is not to break anything, make good positions without pushing too hard and above all don't break anything. The stopovers are very short and if you run into trouble it's hard to find time to fix things. You have to be somewhat conservative and push when you can but do things intelligently so that you don't run into problems further ahead. Until we get to Brazil there won't really be time for any decent repairs on the boat.
On the weather for the second leg:
When you start here you usually get breeze coming at you, which is quite uncomfortable. After that, and depending on how South we get, there's very strong breeze from behind. We'll then head North with strong winds on the beam to cross the Equator. It's 4,000 miles and we think we'll be on the boat for Christmas Eve and Day, which is a shame. It's a tough leg to start with and the first four or five days will be very cold. After that the temperatures should rise as we cross the Equator and the lulls, which shouldn't be as aggressive as in the Atlantic, but we'll still have to get through them.
ANTONIO CUERVAS-MONS. Bowman.
It will be a very all-round leg with a lot of breeze to start off with and then not much at all... We are going to come across every set of conditions.
I think we are in the position that everyone would want to be in, which is in the lead of the regatta, but that doesn't mean anything really. There is still a lot of work ahead and we will continue to work as hard as we can, to do the best job we can and to keep working as we have been
PABLO ARRARTE. Helmsman.
On the leg overall:
It's quite clear that this is going to be a very different leg. Weather conditions at the start are going to be tough, then we need to get to the Equator and you never know there... it's an area of lulls and storms. Then, because of the pirates we'll be subject to an exclusion zone and we've got to stay pretty East to avoid any problems. There's not much freedom when it comes to sailing here. Simply when we head out we'll look for the route South for more breeze and not to get caught in single file, but thee aren't really may options, so it's very important to sail well at the start and to give it everything to get the edge if possible, and then it'll be easier towards the end.
On the piracy risk:
To the North of Madagascar there's an area that's well-known for pirates, and then there's the entire coast of Somalia where they go up to 400 miles from the coast. That's where the organisers have set out some key points for piracy that must be avoided completely. Instead of going straight to Abu Dhabi we are going to a safe port, which won't be revealed for safety reasons. The boats will be loaded onto a heavy ship and will be transported to a port near to Abu Dhabi. That's where we'll pick up the leg again. You have to be careful of pirates, it's an important matter and we accept it and that's what we have to do, and we have to get to Abu Dhabi as we can.
On motivation for this second leg:
We're motivated and after the first leg we've seen that the boat goes well, that it responds and so a lot of this is down to us. Everything's in our hands and we have to give it all we've got so that the boat continues to give us good responses and continues to go as fast as she has been.
XABI FERNÁNDEZ. Trimmer.
The time has come to begin the second leg. The crew is in good shape, the boat is ready and we are looking forward to starting. Yes, it's true that there's a problem out there that everyone's been talking about, and which everyone knows about, which is piracy at the Horn of Africa and along the coast, but it's clearly a problem that is a big concern for Volvo as the organiser and which we don't have too much say in. If safety's at stake, we have to take heed.
It's always good to be in front. It's always important to remember, however, that we are in the lead, but there is a very long way to go. The only thing we want to do is sail a good leg and to continue in the lead.
PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS. Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012.
1. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 37 points
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 34 points
3. Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), 24 points
4. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 9 points
5. Puma powered by Berg (Ken Read), 9 points
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), 4 points
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