There are under 72 hours to go until the start of the seventh leg of the Volvo Ocean Race and Team Telefónica continues to get into gear for the almost 3,600 miles separating Miami (USA) from Lisbon (Portugal). Crossing the 'pond' isn't so easy and it's set to be one of the most complicated legs of the round the world regatta, with the fleet going up against an array of conditions and weather situations.
For many the Atlantic crossing part of the regatta is the supreme leg, not because it's the longest or even the most extreme, but because it includes all sorts of conditions. “It's the most complete leg in terms of conditions; wind, waves, cold and heat. It's a short leg so even a small error can hold you back and you won't have the time to make up the ground. It's one my favourite legs in this round the world regatta”, confirmed Jordi Calafat, whilst Xabi Fernández explained: “It's always said that this leg brings together all of the conditions on a round the world regatta in one single leg”.
Pepe Ribes said: “This leg normally sees a concentration of all of the conditions found in a round the world race: strong winds, light airs, Gulf currents... It's a leg that we all enjoy because it's a collection of all of the conditions we get in the round the world race. It's the final ocean-going leg we have and it's some 3,590 miles in length. If it's very fast, we could manage it in eight or nine days and if it's slow it could be 12 days”.
With “Telefónica” back to one hundred per cent and the crew back at 200 per cent, the Volvo Ocean Race is also back in full force with “Sanya” set to take part in the next leg, where the Atlantic crossing is likely to throw up a few surprises, as Iker Martínez warns: “It's a long and tricky leg and one of the toughest in the round the world regatta. The first leg was very tough, as was the Pacific leg and on this one we're crossing the Atlantic, where you've always got to be careful”.
A complete leg with a start towards the... North?
The start of the seventh leg in the Volvo Ocean Race will be given at Miami Beach on Sunday 20th May at 13:00 local time (17:00 UTC) and that's where the boat on boat battle between the six entries will commence, which will finish in Lisbon (Portugal), after the yachts have covered 3,600 nautical miles.
For Iker Martínez, skipper on “Telefónica”, the first important question will be “where to put the American continent”. From there one of the most important strategic decisions will be how to negotiate the anticyclone at the Azores, because “low pressure could move in and if that happens then we could get strong winds and very big waves, which would turn the leg into one of those where all you focus on is finishing it and not breaking the boat”. In summary: “An interesting leg that we already know will be very tough. Given that the boats are bunched up together in a narrow margin I think that it will be even more interesting because the battle will be even more fierce between all of the entries to hold on to every point”.
Xabi Fernández confirmed that the first few miles of this new leg would be very important “Leg seven begins on Sunday and I hope it goes well. It's expected to be pretty fast, between eleven or twelve days, but we'll have to see what the forecasts say. Right now there's some very high pressure and we'll have to take a long way round to the north to catch the breeze, but things may evolve from here to the start and I hope that we get good conditions”. Yet again, the shortest route won't be the fastest, so gaining north will be key during the first few days of competition.
Aim: to win
With this new leg “Telefónica” is likely to notch up some 3,600 nautical miles and as Xabi says, the aim continues to be victory: “The aim, as always, is to do a good leg. We have an eleven point advantage over the team in second place and a bit more over the other boats. The regatta is also drawing to an end, with three legs left and it would be great opportunity to take another step forward, but it's tricky and that's why we have to take things step by step. We'll try to make a good start here in Miami, and I think that there will be a pretty clear routing which will be similar for us all and making a good start will be important, as we did in Brazil, and then it'll be a question of not making any mistakes and doing all we can to win the leg”.
The leg winner will notch up 30 new points on the scoreboard, and Jordi Calafat says: “The points difference doesn't leave room for defending or being conservative. The aim is to win or to get to the podium. Things would get very tricky for us if we didn't make the podium. Whenever you are in a competition you want to win”.
So as Joca Signorini says: “This transatlantic leg is a great challenge for us, as it's not easy to cross the Atlantic and over the past two editions of the race this has been a leg that was fought for. You never know what awaits you when you head across the Atlantic, so it will be a close leg and we hope that the weather will be on our side”.
Lisbon awaits “Telefónica”, setting off in the lead from Miami
“Telefónica” docked out from Alicante on the 5th of November 2011, and now over six months have passed since then. Now in the Northern Hemisphere the time has come to head towards home. Lisbon (Portugal) is “Telefónica”'s next destination and it looks like the Spaniards will be receiving a very warm welcome from their neighbours. Now more than ever there's a sense that the home strait is commencing, although we mustn't forget that there are still two legs after that; to Lorient (France) and the final destination, Galway (Ireland).
“Telefónica” take on this seventh leg as the mathematical leaders of the overall standings in this Volvo Ocean Race, thanks to an eleven point advantage over second placed “Groupama” from France and fifteen points on the New Zealanders on “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand”.
So “Telefónica” has made it very clear that if there's something the team are good at in this regatta it's the ocean legs: no less than five podiums out of the six legs raced so far, with the Spanish team notching up three victories (consecutive) and a third and a second place. In other money, of the 164 points on the scoreboard for “Telefónica”, 89% of them have come from racing in the ocean-going legs.
Almost one hundred points to play for ahead
There are still many points ahead to play for, with some 90 points up for grabs over the three coming legs, although for a team to notch up all of those they'd have to win every leg left in the round the world regatta.
The only certainty, given the current racing panorama, is that over the next two months left of the latest edition of the Volvo Ocean Race anything can happen.
PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS. Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012.
1. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 164 points
2. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), 153 points
3. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 149 points
4. Puma powered by Berg (Ken Read), 147 points
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 68 points
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), 25 points
There are under 72 hours to go until the start of the seventh leg of the Volvo Ocean Race and Team Telefónica continues to get into gear for the almost ...
The countdown in Miami has kicked off. The racing format for this edition of the round the world race doesn't leave much breathing space and “Telefónica” has been back ...
We dive behind the scenes yet again to reveal the workings behind a round the world racing team. The collection of departments each contain vital elements of the team ...
Since yesterday afternoon the entire Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 has been reunited in Miami, from where next Sunday the fleet will be setting off for the old continent. Before ...
Team Telefónica has just completed the sixth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race: 4,800 miles between Brazil and Miami, USA, where the Spanish team is already preparing for the passage ...
Following 17 days, 8 hours, 6 minutes and 38 seconds of the leg, “Telefónica” finished the sixth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race early this morning. After a heart-stopping ...
“Telefónica” went all in against “Groupama” in the fight for the third step on the podium of this sixth leg of the regatta, heading into the final stretch of the ...
"Telefónica" continues her advance through the Bahamas on this sixteenth day of competition between Brazil and Miami, USA. Following more than 4,400 miles of the leg there are now ...
Iker Martínez, the “Telefónica” skipper had forewarned yesterday that “the high pressure can change your plans at any given moment” and that is exactly what has happened on this fifteenth ...
One of the areas on the course described by skipper Iker Martínez as among the most complicated of the sixth leg has now been put astern. “Telefónica” has now ...