"Telefónica" took just over six hours to complete the first stage of the third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, almost 100 nautical miles between the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. The Spanish boat led for most of the course, up until the final downwind leg when “Abu Dhabi” managed to sweep into the lead. Iker Martínez and crew finished in fourth place, and in doing so added another point to the gap with their closest rival in the overall standings.
"We were at the front at Abu Dhabi and then we sailed upwind fairly well, but then there was a fast beam reach with all of the boats sailing at more than 20 knots for three or four hours," explained Iker Martínez upon arriving at Sharjah.
From the beginning of the first stage of the leg and almost up until the end, "Telefónica" had been holding the lead. It was on the last downwind stretch, as Iker Martínez tells us, where some problems cropped up: "We ran into a couple of problems and in the end, with the boats so closely bunched together, both "Abu Dhabi", "Puma" and "Groupama" got past us. There wasn't much in it and we were really close to them, just behind and it's really frustrating but these things happen."
One of "Telefónica"'s jibs hit the water and was damaged, s the ESP-1 skipper tells us: "The sail that hit the water suffered some damage, but these are incredibly resistant sails, so I don't think we'll have any problems there."
The leg rules state that only the crew are allowed to carry out any necessary repairs, and these must be done using only the materials found on board.
Jordi Calafat, who is the sail coordinator on Team Telefónica, Zane Gills who is the other sailmaker on board and Antonio 'Ñeti' Cuervas-Mons are working on the sail right now.
"It is a matter of time and the guys are getting it fixed now. It will be fine and I'm sure it will be in perfect shape to be used once they've fixed it. It's routine, they have to do it and it's not something that concerns me as I'm sure it will be fine," said the "Telefónica" skipper.
"Today we got ourselves another point on "Camper With Emirates Team New Zealand" who are in second place overall, so that's good. Another thing to be positive about is the fact that we are setting off in a good position: leading and with an advantage of a good few points, considering that this is a place where the conditions don't really suit us," added the skipper.
Waiting expectantly for the ship loading tomorrow
"Right now what is worrying me most is the whole process of getting the boat up onto the ship", said Martínez.
At 08:00 tomorrow the crew of "Telefónica" and two members of the shore crew who've made their way to Sharjah: Horacio and Alex, will have to be at the port of Sharjah to begin the process of loading the yacht onto the heavy armed ship that will be transporting the fleet to a safe haven port in the Indian Ocean.
"Tomorrow we'll be moving the boats again, for the second time, because another ship is coming before we load it on because of the wind and things... Tomorrow morning that will be our main worry: that the boat can get to the offloading point without a hitch," said Iker Martínez from the port of Sharjah.
RANKINGS STAGE 1 - LEG 3
ABU DHABI (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES) – SHARJAH (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 6 points
2. Puma powered by Berg (Ken Read), 5 points
3. Groupama Sailing Team (Franck Cammas), 4 points
4. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 3 points
5. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 2 points
Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), DNS
PROVISIONAL OVERALL STANDINGS. Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012.
1. Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez), 71 points
2. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson), 64 points
3. Groupama sailing team, 51 points
4. Puma powered by BERG (Ken Read), 36 points
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker), 31 points
6. Team Sanya (Mike Sanderson), 4 points NOTE: SAILING 2ND LEG.