A brand new victory in China for the Spanish entry in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race: “Telefónica”. Sanya played host to a second consecutive win for the Spanish team in China. If the team's win in the previous edition of the regatta back in February 2009 is also anything to go by - when the team reigned victorious in the Olympic port of Qingdao, then it can definitely be said that this particular Asian country obviously suits “Telefónica”.
A key start
The day kicked off with a parade featuring the crews in front of thousands of people at the Marina Serenity port. The Spanish boat was the last of the entries to dock out, following the ceremony protocol as the leading entry in the overall regatta rankings.
Once the boats were out on the water, conditions in the bay at Sanya were perfect for some in-shore racing, with 15 knots of breeze and gusts of up to 20 knots and flat seas. At 14:00 local time in Sanya (China), 06:00 UTC, the racing began with an excellent start by the Spanish team which gave the team power over the rest of the fleet to exert where and when they so desired.
The start and the first upwind leg were fundamental to the Spanish team's bid for the podium, with Iker as skipper and Jordi Calafat calling the tactics managing to position “Telefónica” exactly where they wanted the boat: to the right side of the racecourse, with no obstacle getting in their way.
“The start was given upwind and our decision before the race even started was to look for the right side. We wanted to set off to the windward side of the fleet and to strengthen that position as much as we could, and that's what we managed to do. Iker did a great job on the approach to the starting line, positioning the boat well to the windward side of the rest, and on the first leg we were well-placed”, explained watch leader Joca Signorini, back on shore.
The first leg of the race was therefore saw the Spanish team in control, with “Puma” hunting them down at just under 30 seconds away, whilst “Abu Dhabi” defended third place in the fleet, fighting off pressure from French entry “Groupama”. Chinese boat “Sanya” and “Camper” from New Zealand filled the final two spots in the fleet.
Problems bringing the spinnaker down
As Iker Martínez says: “manoeuvres with ten people on board to bring down a 500 square metre sail are always going to be tricky”, that's why on the approach the windward mark he tried to slow down the yacht to make it easier to bring the spinnaker down. Unfortunately, the complete opposite happened, with the sail covering the deck of the boat and taking a lot longer to lower than planned, also meaning that the J1 headsail for the next leg also couldn't be hoisted.
After almost stopping the boat and managing to untangle the sheets and the spinnaker halyard to clear the way for the J1 manoeuvre, “Telefónica” got back to some fast upwind sailing but with only a 10 second lead on American boat “Puma”, who'd managed to cut the gap right down to almost a boatlength in a matter of minutes.
“'Puma' always does a really good job. They almost got past us, but once again, with two very good tactical calls we managed to get away and we were at ease”, explained Pepe Ribes as he arrived back on shore.
“The two attempts at bringing the spinnaker down were pretty risky, but thanks to Jordi's positioning and Iker's heading we had such a big advantage that we were able to make some small errors without them showing on the final scoreboard”, added the sailor from Alicante.
Despite the setback “Telefónica” continued to defend her position and managed to yet again push further away from the fleet. In the meantime “Abu Dhabi” consolidated third place, “Groupama” dropped back with “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand” and “Sanya” pushing forward. A tough boat on boat duel resulted in a penalty for the Chinese, pushing them back down into the bottom spot.
The final few miles of racing saw “Telefónica” exert control over the Americans and carefully execute manoeuvres to avoid making any grave errors.
“We were clear that a manoeuvre can ruin a whole race for you and that's why it's important to play it safer perhaps than you might at other times, because there was a lot of breeze. We were aware of that, we talked about it a lot and that's been key: pushing forward steadily”, said helmsman Pablo Arrarte.
With the peace of mind from a job well-done the Spanish crew took a fifth victory with a 41 second lead over second-placed “Puma”. This victory is added to a scoreboard featuring 5 wins out of a possible 7, or in other words: 101 points of a possible 114 to date, resulting in an even stronger lead for the Spanish boat in this round the world regatta.
Third place on the podium went to “Abu Dhabi”, whilst “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand” and “Groupama” see “Telefónica” push even further in front in the overall standings, adding 3 and 4 points respectively to the gap with the second and third spots on the leaderboard. “Camper” and “Groupama” finished in fourth and fifth place in today's regatta.
Two starts towards New Zealand due to a typhoon in the South China Sea
The fourth leg of the regatta between the ports of Sanya (China) and Auckland (New Zealand), with a course covering some 5,220 miles, begins tomorrow (Sunday) at 14:00 local time (06:00 UTC). However, the leg will be split into two stages with the boats forced to restart just a few miles in due to a typhoon warning in the South China Sea, with forecasts indicating expected wind speeds of 40 knots and even more dangerously, waves of eight metres.
With this forecast in hand, the skippers and navigators of each boat were informed of the Volvo Ocean Race organisers' decision to neutralise the race in order to wait for the typhoon in the Luzon Strait (between the northern coast of the Philippines and the southern coast of Taiwan) to abate.
The fleet are expected to resume racing, which will be staggered according to the order of finish of the first stage of the leg, within the 24 hours following the pause, or there may even be a chance of the leg resuming between Sunday night and Monday morning.
This fourth leg is expected to last some 20 days approximately. After a tricky upwind stretch to the Luzon Strait, the fleet will set course to the archipelago of Fiji. Once the boats have passed that point, the next crucial point on the course will be the Asian Doldrums, where the boats will have to cover hundreds of miles with very little breeze. Once they are through the lulls it'll be time for the final leg home, with pure speed to New Zealand, where the fleet is expected to arrive on or around the 8th of March.
IKER MARTÍNEZ (San Sebastián, Guipúzcoa, Spain). Skipper.
We know that this regatta as a whole isn't won on the in-shore racing, but every point counts and that's obvious. It was a great race for us, we couldn't have asked for more. I think that the wind was on our side and we got some great breeze and then I think that besides that the difference was in the tactics. Jordi did a fantastic job with the help of the meteorologists and the trainer. Between us all we did a very good job and we put ourselves in a position where everything was that bit easier for us.
That aside, performing manoeuvres is very hard. With this sort of breeze and ten of us on board it is very hard to do and everyone did a great job. Yes, we had a couple of issues but they were sorted out pretty quickly and in the end we managed to win the race.
XABI FERNÁNDEZ (Ibarra, Guipúzcoa, Spain). Trimmer.
We made a good start where we wanted to be, which is what counts most, and rather than starting a second earlier or later we wanted to start to the windward side to then be able to tack. We did that and we were able to tack when we wanted to and Jordi really was spot on and I think Iker did a great job too and the rest of us made sure the boat went as fast as it could. On the second upwind leg it was the same. We called some good tactics and we were able to push the gap with “Puma” who had moved in considerably.
I think that these in-port races are really tricky and you can just as easily win as you can finish at the back. That's the way it is and we were last in Alicante, we won in Cape Town, we did badly in Abu Dhabi and here we are, having won again. I don't know if we'll manage to win the next one or if we'll be fifth or third, so that's why our aim is always to try to get to the podium, because if you get there, then it's obvious that you're doing well.
PABLO ARRARTE (Santander, Spain). Helsman.
The wind was really gusty and shifty and that's why it was more necessary than ever to really keep an eye on the fleet. The meteorologists studied the racecourse in the morning and then Jordi and Capey did a great job reading the breeze and choosing what side to play, and that was also key.
We know that the in-ports aren't where the big points are. We've been preparing for the long haul legs for two years, for ocean sailing... The in-ports aren't at the forefront of our minds but of course a top spot boosts morale and we can set off tomorrow with even more of a spring in our step. We've also got ourselves some more points which is great and we are really happy about that.
JORDI CALAFAT (Palma de Mallorca, Spain). Helmsman and Sail Inventory coordinator. Tactician in-port racing.
There are days where things go well, days where they go just ok and days where they go badly. We made a good start today, we were abel to get on the good side of the course and everything went smoothly for us. We were a bit worried beforehand because in-shores are not our forte, but now we've won two of them and let's see if we can continue to improve, as they haven't been high points for us.
We know that's important to sail a clean race, out of the traffic and that's what counts. We chose to start to the windward side and to be the first to go to the right and it was a decision we made together with our meteorologists. Everything went to plan.
JOCA SIGNORINI (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Watch Leader.
We are really happy with the result here in Sanya and a win is always welcome. In-shore racing really is tricky, totally unpredictable and it depends a lot on the start you make and today we made a good one. We wanted to be on the right side and we managed to position ourselves well. We rounded the mark first and despite a problem at the first mark we managed to keep “Puma” at bay and it's a great result for us.
Despite everything, these races are worth twenty percent of the racing points and they may even end up deciding the final overall standings. Our final results with “Puma” and “Abu Dhabi” and between us and “Camper” as well as “Groupama”, who was left trailing a bit further behind, well it's good to gain a bit more of an advantage on those rivals closest to you in the overall standings.
PEPE RIBES, Boat Captain.
The key to this win was Iker's great start, Jordi's great tactics and I'd say that we need to keep practicing our manoeuvres. This is a great win for the team and very important for us that no one gained any points on us. Winning was a bonus.
FINAL RESULTS Coastal Race, Sanya (China)
1. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez). 58 min 37 secs. 6 points
2. Puma powered by Berg (Ken Read). + 0:41. 5 points.
3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker). +4:20. 4 points.
4. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson). +5:35. 3 points.
5. Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas). +6:51. 2 points.
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson). +7:13. 1 point.
PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS. Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012.
1. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 101 points
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 83 points
3. Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), 73 points
4. Puma powered by Berg (Ken Read), 53 points
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 43 points
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), 17 points
At 13:00 UTC “Telefónica” surprised everyone by making up mileage and moving into second place, just 50 miles astern of "Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand". The Spanish boat's ...
“Telefónica” is back notching up miles after a night with a change of course for the yacht to avoid getting stuck in a lull. As Iker Martínez himself confirmed ...
?Spanish yacht “Telefónica” continues to gain East-Northeast on the fifth day of competition, despite the fact that the final destination on this fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race is ...
The Luzon Strait is currently less than 50 miles ahead of “Telefónica”'s bow and everything is indicating that along with the rest of the fleet, the Spanish boat will make ...
This morning “Telefónica” surprised the rest of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet with a decision to make a sudden tack. Now Iker Martínez explains the situation and the Spanish ...
The final miles towards the Philippines are set to be some of the toughest for the fleet and Iker Martínez's “Telefónica” is continuing to put up a fight on the ...
Early this morning in Sanya (China), 23:00 UTC and “Telefónica” resumed her route on this fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. The Spanish entry was the first in ...
An unusual leg start, but a leg start all the same. At 14:00 sharp local time (06:00 UTC) with ten knots of breeze “Telefónica” with Iker Martínez and crew ...
A brand new victory in China for the Spanish entry in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race: “Telefónica”. Sanya played host to a second consecutive win for the ...