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 (France) at 22:40 local time (20:40 UTC). “We had a very big problem and we're all here safely so I'm much happier now. I think we did a great leg until the damage, no doubt, our best leg; we competed at a very, very high level,” said Iker Martínez upon arrival at Lorient.
The boat had been sailing with just one rudder, the port rudder since the early hours of Thursday 14th June after a fateful descent from a wave that meant that the starboard rudder was put completely out of action. With only a damaged port rudder, the possibilities of sailing at one hundred per cent slipped away, as did the possibilities of racing against the other boats in the leg.
It was an emotional arrival at Lorient, deepened by the loud and sincere applause coming from the French public who showed their affection for the Spanish team and for the crew who are esteemed for their fighting spirit.
“One of the things about this team is that we don't give up,” said watch leader Neal McDonald. “We've been working for almost three years on this project and we're going to give it all we've got until the end. I'm sure that Iker will be making sure that we get the very best out of what's left of this. We've still got two inshores and a leg to do and we're going to give it our all right until the end.”
Almost right up until the finishing line the tension was palpable, with “Sanya” pushing “Telefónica” hard right to the finish. Although the Spaniards were 'wounded' they managed to finish in fifth place, finishing 19 minutes ahead of Mike Sanderson's guys, the skipper who won the 2005-2006 edition of this regatta.
“We have to look ahead and over the past few hours we've fought to get ahead of “Sanya” with just one rudder and we did it. I think we'll really remember today's five points at Galway. Now we need to fight with different objectives within our sights. It's tough, but that's just the way it is,” said Basque trimmer Xabi Fernández in Lorient.
42 points until the end of the regatta
The arrival of the local entry, “Groupama” was at 13:31 local time, adding 30 new points to the team's scoreboard and widening the gap with “Telefónica” to 28 points, and the gap with second-placed “Puma” to 23 points.
“The main thing was to get the boat to finish in one piece and that no one was hurt,” said boat captain Pepe Ribes. “What we feel is a bit of frustration; although we haven't mathematically lost this regatta yet because 28 points behind with two inshores and a leg to go isn't losing this, but “Groupama” has a lead which, unless a catastrophe occurs, is easy to defend. I'd snap up a 23 points lead on the second-placed entry with a leg and two inshores to go in a second... “that's football”, as they say,” added the sailor from Alicante, who is taking part in his fourth Volvo Ocean Race.
With the end to the penultimate leg now sealed, “Telefónica” is drawing on points in the overall standings with “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand”, both with 191 points a piece. However, the Notice of Race (Point 24.1) states that in the case of a draw, the balance tips in favour of the boat making the best leg finish. As such, the Spanish boat moves into fourth place, whilst Chris Nicholson and crew lie in third.
There are a total of 42 points up for grabs until the outcome of this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race is revealed in Galway (Ireland). 30 points will be taken by the first boat to the Irish city, the end point of the ninth and final leg, which will begin on the first of July. The other 12 points will be on offer in the inshore races: one in Lorient of June 30th and the other one in Galway on July 7th.
NOTE: To read an explanation of what happened to the rudders by Iker Martínez click here.
Iker Martínez, skipper.
The breaking of the second rudder was a bit strange, because it was a new rudder and we were sailing on the opposite tack. As it broke we lost control of the boat and it gybed. The boat was at 90º for a while until we got control of the situation. The worst thing was that the other rudder was damaged, so that's why we abandoned racing mode and went into safe mode in order to finish. We achieved what we wanted to achieve, which was to all get to shore safely, although that isn't what we have been aiming for the past two years, but that's the way it is.
From here, considering where we've come from, the regatta's not looking too good for us because we wanted to get here and to be in a position to fight for final victory and right now, that's not really possible. We need to fight bit by bit, first trying to understand what happened and why we've had a problem like this; we've never broken a rudder over three round the world regattas and in a matter of six hours we broke three, so we need to see exactly where the problem is. We need to learn from this and to aim for a great final leg and fight to do as well as we can. We will keep fighting until this is over, not for what we had wanted, but we need to keep focussing ahead and to keep racing.
I'd also like to congratulate “Groupama” who deserved this leg win and maybe even the regatta win, if nothing out of the blue happens. Knowing what sort of team they are, I'm sure they'll make sure that there won't be any problems there.
PEPE RIBES, boat captain.
From when we tacked at the Azores we knew that the conditions were going to be very tough and we'd be entering low pressure until gybing to get here. The truth is that I didn't expect such big seas and I think we had seven or eight metre waves and in these conditions, knowing that there are only 30 hours or so of the leg left everyone was really going for it and we had to go very fast.
RESULTS LEG 8
LISBON (PORTUGAL) – LORIENT (FRANCE): 1,940 miles
1. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas). 4d 23h 31m 2s. 30 points.
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson). 5d 30m 9s. 25 points.
3. Puma Ocean Racing by Berg (Ken Read). 5d 43m 4s. 20 points.
4. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker). 5d 2h 17m 25s. 15 points.
5. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez). 5d 8h 40m 26s. 10 points.
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson). 5d 8h 59m 41s. 5 points.
PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS. Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012.
1. Groupama sailing team (Franck Cammas), 219 points
2. Puma powered by Berg (Ken Read), 196 points
3. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 191 points
4. Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 191 points
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 122 points
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), 39 points
The high pressure played games with the fleet during the night, slowing down the racing pace to unexpected lows. At average boat speeds of between five and seven knots, ...
After six days of racing and making it through a tropical storm, an anomalous downwind shift and numerous light patches, the fleet is now 1,900 nautical miles from the finishing ...
The weather has turned into quite a headache as “Telefónica” saw a shift in the breeze make a play against them, with the boat unable to gybe at the same ...
“Telefónica” has come out on top in the battle with France's “Groupama” - at least for now. From the lead and now with 2,500 miles to go until Lisbon ...
The past 24 hours have been really positive for Spain's “Telefónica”. After making it through tropical storm “Alberto” and moving up to the top spot during the night, the ...
Tropical storm “Alberto” has taken centre stage over the past 24 hours of racing, surprising the fleet by changing course in a completely unpredictable fashion. On board “Telefónica” some ...
The early hours of the course to Lisbon (Portugal) have proved quite a whirlwind for the fleet. There are constant shifts in the rankings and it seems that the ...
The Volvo Ocean Race fleet set off from Miami in what seemed like slow motion this Sunday afternoon, on their first moves of this seventh leg of the round the ...
The seventh leg of the Volvo Ocean Race will kick off this Sunday, and it's set to be the final great ocean leg of this edition of the round the ...
Everything's ready at Miami for the seventh In Port race of this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race and Iker Martínez and his “Telefónica” are very clear on the main ...