The eighth and penultimate leg of the Volvo Ocean Race is underway, kicking off today in Lisbon, Portugal at 12:00 UTC with 11 knots of northwesterly breeze. There are 1,940 nautical miles ahead for the crews, taking them to Brittany in France and the town of Lorient, with an obligatory waypoint positioned at the Azores, specifically at the island of San Miguel, the biggest and most important island in the archipelago.
A very Spanish 'Adiós'
There was a lot of atmosphere at the Race Village in Lisbon and over 200,000 people have visited the zone over the past few days to bid farewell to the fleet with many Spaniards among them: “We have a lot of fans cheering us on here at Lisbon, and it shows that we're close to Spain. We really appreciate the support we've had from everybody who has come here”, said Alicante's Pepe Ribes.
Right at the front were a tide of Telefans: a movement founded by friends and family of “Telefónica” bowman Antonio “Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons, who have come from all over Spain. “They are fantastic!” said Iker Martínez from the quayside. “They shout and sing the most and can be heard twice as much as any of the others. It's amazing that they are here to support us and cheer us on. It's always great”.
Starting from the Tagus
The start of the eighth leg was given at the mouth of the Tagus, with the initial stretch of the almost 2,000 miles of the course marked out opposite the Pedrouso marina, passing in front of the Belém tower and under the 25th of April bridge almost as far as Lisbon. A marker indicated the point at which the boats should return to the starting point to set course for a mark at Cascais.
That's where the six Volvo Open 70s set course out to sea with the Azores on all of their minds.
Almost four hours after the start and the top four entries: “Puma”, “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand”, “Abu Dhabi” and “Telefónica” are in a radius of under a mile, all sailing at 15 knot boat speeds.
Lisbon to Lorient via the Azores
These 1,940 nautical miles to Lorient feature an obligatory waypoint for the boats at the island of San Miguel at the Azores and will also feature the Azores anticyclone, which is likely to becalm the fleet of VO70s.
“The breeze will drop gradually as we get closer to the Azores, almost at the same angle, until at 100 miles from San Miguel it'll be total calm and that's where there will be a compression”, said Xabi Fernández at the Team Telefónica base in Lisbon.
The fleet will have to put the island to starboard to then continue to head for Lorient. The course may throw up all sorts of conditions for the entries, which may also open up windows of opportunity. “We may get strong downwind conditions, but it really depends on how the low which is slowly approaching Europe behaves... It's very interesting”, said double Olympic medallist Iker Martínez.
30 points for the leg, 72 until the end of the regatta
The importance of this leg is considerable and all of the crews know it. The Basque skipper also admitted as much moments before docking out from Lisbon, saying “this is a very important leg when you look at the points difference between the entries and it may even decide the regatta”.
With the lead eight points away from “Telefónica” and the rival in closest pursuit six points behind Martínez knows that “we must make this a good leg to stay in the running and to achieve our aim of reaching the final leg with options of winning this regatta”.
The latest estimates indicate that the fleet may reach the finishing port for this leg on or around Friday, 15th June. Who'll be holding the winning ticket? The answer will be delivered at Lorient...
IKER MARTÍNEZ, skipper.
We've prepared for this leg in the same way we prepared for the others, with the utmost care, aiming to be spot on with the sails, by putting a lot of work into the meteorology where we're sure to hit some tricky spots...
We all know each other very well on board and we all want the same thing. Lately things haven't been going too well, and in particular what happened yesterday was very unfair and we are all pretty angry with the Jury and the Organisers for how the whole thing was handled, but having said that, I suppose it's the same for everybody and there's nothing more to it. The best boat has to win and that's why it's important to sail better than the rest, to put yesterday behind us and to focus on the leg, heading out there at one hundred per cent. There's no point in lamenting the loss of points. Now the leg is starting and we have to fight for the points ahead.
PEPE RIBES, boat captain.
It is going to be a tricky leg because there will be all types of conditions and there is a chance we'll get a lot of breeze towards the end, so we'll really have to push hard near the finish. The Azores may be something of a lottery. If the high sits where it is right now we may get a couple of days with no breeze and when that happens it turns into a lottery, but we have high hopes for this leg and we are really looking forward to reaching Lorient in a very good position.
XABI FERNÁNDEZ, trimmer.
Just after we put the Azores behind us we'll be setting course north to catch the low pressure and the first boat to catch it will spend a day or a day and a half pushing away, pushing away with more breeze than the rest. The leg is likely to speed up towards the coast of Lorient, which will also throw up its own issues, but we trust Capey [Andrew Cape, navigator] to negotiate that successfully.
ANTONIO “ÑETI” CUERVAS-MONS, bowman
We've all wiped the slate clean for today and we must start this again, as if this were the first day of this regatta, giving it all we've got. We're going to sail how we know best. We've demonstrated that we know how to be ahead and I think that the only thing we can hope to do is to give it our all and to do the best we can.
PROVISIONAL RANKINGS LEG 8
LISBON (PORTUGAL) – LORIENT (FRANCE): 1,940 miles
Day 1 – 15:00 UTC – 10th June 2012
1. Puma Ocean Racing (Ken Read), 1,903 miles to finish
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), +0.2 miles
3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), +0.2 miles
4. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), +0.8 miles
5. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), +2.7 miles
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), +3 miles
PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS. Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012.
1. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), 189 points
2. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 181 points
3. Puma powered by Berg (Ken Read), 176 points
4. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 166 points
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 107 points
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), 34 points
The Volvo Ocean Race finished in Galway (Ireland) yesterday with the final in-port race in this edition of the competition. Iker Martínez and his “Telefónica” bid farewell to the ...
Tomorrow will be the final opportunity to see the boats competing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 together on the water. At 12:00 UTC (13:00 local time) the crews ...
Almost nine months after starting the round the world race “Telefónica” faced the final leg: 550 miles which would be crucial in terms of the final overall standings for the ...
Almost two in the morning in Galway and and the dash to the Irish port which took 1 day, 13 hours, 57 minutes and 33 seconds for “Telefónica” means that ...
The 24 hours of racing mark on this final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 has been hit and Spain's "Telefónica" is sticking with the fleet frontrunners in a ...
Seven months after the start at Alicante, Spain, the ninth and final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 kicked off today in Lorient, in Brittany, France, with Spanish boat ...
Tomorrow, Sunday, sees the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race kick off in the French port of Lorient, taking the fleet to the Irish city of Galway after today's ...
?Two weeks after finishing one of the tightest and toughest legs of the round the world regatta, the six Volvo Open 70s are now preparing to take on the penultimate ...
This coming Sunday, July 1st, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet will be hearing the sound of the starting horn for the start of the ninth and final leg in the ...
5 days, 8 hours, 40 minutes and 26 seconds after setting off from Lisbon, “Telefónica” crossed the finishing line of the eighth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race in Lorient ...