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
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 ...