With the Mirabaud Bol d’Or now behind them and the Maxi Trimaran ready for competition, the Spindrift Racing Team is back in training mode, and Yann Guichard and his crew have today set off to complete a Transatlantic passage between two world sailing hub – La Trinite’-Sur-Mer in Brittany and Newport, Rhode Island, USA.

The crew of twelve met at Spindrift racing’s base in St Philibert on Friday 15 June and a few hours later, left for their 3000-mile training sail between France and the United States. While the Atlantic is well known to all of the sailors onboard, it provides a great place to train as it offers constantly varied and changing weather situations. In this way the crew will have an excellent opportunity to, once again get back into the rhythm of sailing the world’s largest trimaran as the team prepares for their upcoming Jules Verne Trophy attempt.

The benefits of getting back out on the water and sailing for a longer period are not lost on Yann Guichard: “In sailing, you continue to learn, from the first day through to the last, and the more we sail the better we will get. A transatlantic can be a very effective exercise, and offers much more than single training days in the bay of Quiberon. Sailing these longer passages allows us to set goals for the longer term, to strengthen our teamwork and especially to get some sea miles under our belt.

However, there is a double objective to this crossing. The first is team oriented: “This is not the final crew for the Jules Verne but a transat offers us the opportunity to test new people whose profile can bring something to a world record attempt. I place a lot of importance on team work and my choice of crew, and it is important that any new recruit fits in with the group as a whole. We are sailing with 12 crew, which includes seven sailors that form the core of Spindrift racing and who have been with me almost since the beginning,” commented Yann.

The second objective is “to get as much data and analytics from Spindrift 2 in her new configuration as possible. This year, she has been fitted with her original mast that we shortened and adapted for the 2014 Route du Rhum. As the mast is smaller than our previous one, the team will have to adapt and make some changes in how we sail. So far we have not sailed much with our new rig, so by adapting both technically and physically, we can be as prepared as possible for the challenge that awaits us at the end of the year,” explained the skipper.

With the black and gold team now enroute, it is expected that they will sail south towards the Canaries so as to “find the conditions that are as similar as possible to the reaching conditions that we would find on a World tour,” concluded Yann.

Spindrift 2 is expected to arrive in Newport on about 23 June.

Quantum Racing - TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi  www.MaxRanchi.com )

Quantum Racing – TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi www.MaxRanchi.com )

 

(Wednesday 23rd May, Sibenik) – From the high tension and great expectations that prevailed amongst the crews of the 12 TP52s, who contested an exciting first day of the 2018 52 SUPER SERIES, it is three-time champions, Quantum Racing who emerge with the tiniest possible lead at the Sibenik 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week in Croatia.

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi  www.MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi www.MaxRanchi.com )

With nine shiny, brand new boats competing on a race arena that is completely new to the 52 SUPER SERIES, the de-facto leading grand prix monohull circuit in the world, it was the Quantum Racing crew, marshalled by afterguard Terry Hutchinson; tactician, Dean Barker; and helm and navigator Ian Moore, that finish the day ahead, but only on countback by virtue of their victory in the second race of the day.

It proved to be a dream start to the season for the Quantum-powered crews as Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon mirrored their counterparts’ score with a 1,4 to lie second – on the same points aggregate – and Brazilian Eduardo de Souza Ramos crew on Onda, the third team in the Quantum stable, lie third after a strong opening second and seventh places.

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi  www.MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi www.MaxRanchi.com )

The tactical key to the first race was recognising the wind shift generated on the right side of the course by the effect of an island upwind to the right of the course, and in the second race when there was a thunderstorm lurking out to the right of the course area there was a series of shifts totalling more than 50 degrees from the start.

 

After the Race 1 start, World Champions Platoon took the lead on the first downwind, when early pacemakers Provezza appeared to suffer a technical problem with their kite halyard. Onda, with five-time Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt as tactician, stuck to their pre-start game plan and benefited from their early choice to go right, moving up to second on the downwind behind Platoon. That was the order through the finish line but the last run witnessed several exciting place changes in the 8-10 knot seabreeze, and the finishes behind the runaway top two were some of the closest yet.

 

Quantum Racing’s was the sharpest start of the day when they leapt off the line in the second race, that allowed them to take early control of the right side and by the top mark they were sixty metres, or more, clear of second-placed Gladiator. Once more the top two were able to hold their positions through the finish line – Takashi Okura’s Sled getting third with Platoon fourth.

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi  www.MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi www.MaxRanchi.com )

It proved to be a fascinating opening to the season. The surprise package were Onda who have made significant gains since finishing tenth at PalmaVela, but tactician Scheidt pointed out they had stuck with their game plans, but the hugely experienced Brazilians positioned their boat shrewdly, keeping away from the traffic and any tussles with the top teams. On successive first beats, XIO Hurakan, the Italian team lead by Tomasso Chieffi, were top four, only fading on the second round. So too Gladiator – with Morgan Larson as tactician – proved a new boat is not a pre-requisite to win a podium place. And right now race wins are shared evenly between the Botin (Quantum Racing) and the Vrolijlk (Platoon) design studios.

Harm Müller-Spreer owner-driver of Platoon, emphasises.

“The difference between the two designers’ boats was greater last year. I know we are closer this year in terms of performance. You can win races with either boats. But this is such a long season it is hard to guess what will happen.”

James Lyne, the Quantum coach summarises:

“The conditions were tough and both boats Quantum Racing and Platoon executed one race well. There were some big shifts and so Terry [Hutchinson, Quantum tactician] played that nicely in the second race,” explains the Quantum team coach James Lyne. “The level is higher than ever. There are more coaches, there are more analysts, there are better sailors on board. The level keeps going up.”

Of the first day for Onda, Robert Scheidt, back in the TP52 class for the first time since 2010 said:

“We had a plan. We stuck to our plan, and it worked. Sometimes you can be a little bit lucky and I think we got a nice shift on the first beat and that put us up the front at the top mark of the first race. If you can be in the top three at the first mark you can have your own race, you can use your speed and sail your own race.”

Circuit champions Azzurra, reckoned to be the best prepared team and winners of PalmaVela training regatta in early May did not have the start they wanted. Their opening third was strong enough but they were on the wrong side of the first big shift during the second race and could not recover, resulting in a weighty tenth. So too it was something of a baptism of fire for the Luna Rossa crew, which lies just one place ahead of their training partners Azzurra after a 7,5 start to their campaign.

Regatta standings at the end of Day 1
1. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (4,1) 5 p.
2. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (1,4) 5 p.
3. Onda (BRA) (Eduardo de Souza Ramos) (2,7) 9 p.
4. Luna Rossa (ITA) (Patrizio Bertelli) (7,5) 12 p.
5. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto Roemmers) (3,10) 13 p.
6. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (10(+2 PEN PTS),2) 14 p.
7. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (5,9) 14 p.
8. Phoenix (RSA) (Hasso/Tina Plattner) (8,6) 14 p.
9. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (12,3) 15 p.
10. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) (9,8) 17 p.
11. Paprec Recyclage (FRA) (Jean Luc Petithuguenin) (6,12) 18 p.
12. XIO Hurakan (ITA) (Marco Serafini) (11,11) 22p.

For full results, visit: http://bit.ly/2IGhEE1
To watch the race again, visit http://bit.ly/2e6o3tR.

The Sibenik 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week will take place from 23-27 May. State-of-the-art live boat tracking technology will allow 52 SUPER SERIES fans to follow their favourite teams. Shows start 15-minutes before racing, and can be enjoyed via the 52 SUPER SERIES homepage – www.52SUPERSERIES.com – or via the app. Never miss a beat.

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi  www.MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi www.MaxRanchi.com )

Official unveiling of the OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black "Volvo Ocean Race" Limited Edition timepiece (Photo © George Bekris)

Official unveiling of the OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black “Volvo Ocean Race” Limited Edition timepiece (Photo © George Bekris)

As the Official Timekeeper of the Volvo Ocean Race, OMEGA has been keeping a precise eye on this year’s action at sea. The sailors have now stopped in Newport, Rhode Island, to complete Leg 8 of the race, and OMEGA celebrated the moment by unveiling its newly-designed winner’s watch.

The Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black “Volvo Ocean Race” Limited Edition by OMEGA (Photo © George Bekris)

The Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black “Volvo Ocean Race” Limited Edition by OMEGA (Photo © George Bekris)

 The Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black “Volvo Ocean Race” Limited Edition will be presented to the winning team of this year’s race when it concludes in The Hague in June. The timepiece will also be available publicly, but only 73 models have been created overall (in tribute to the year that the Ocean Race first began).

 Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO of OMEGA, recently spoke about the watch and said, “OMEGA has loved following this exciting and unique race so far. We wanted our winner’s watch to be as beautifully designed as the boats themselves, and also precise and robust to reflect the tough sailing conditions that the competitors face. I think the ‘Deep Black’ is the perfect way to do this and we’re looking forward to presenting it to the winning team.”

Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO of OMEGA, America’s Cup Emirates Team New Zealand’s winning skipper Peter Burling and MAPFRE helmsman and trimmer Blake Tuke at unveiling (Photo © George Bekris)

 The 45.50 mm timepiece is a divers’ chronograph with a black rubber strap, yet its strong design is just as capable of withstanding the extreme pressures of ocean sailing. The casebody has been crafted from black ceramic, while red rubber has been used to cover the first 15 minutes of the unidirectional bezel. Liquidmetal™ then completes the rest of the diving scale.

 

The brushed black ceramic dial includes each Limited Edition number, as well as 18K white gold hour-minute hands and indexes. On the subdial at 3 o’clock, OMEGA has included a red Volvo Ocean Race ring with coloured hands and number 12. Another reference to the event can be found on the oriented caseback, where OMEGA has included the official “Volvo Ocean Race” logo.

OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black being modeled by Blair Tuke (Photo © George Bekris)

OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black being modeled by Blair Tuke (Photo © George Bekris)

Finally, it’s important to note that the winner’s watch reaches the pinnacle of precision, thanks to its OMEGA Master Chronometer calibre 9900. Having passed the 8 rigorous tests set by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS), this Master Chronometer certification represents the highest standard of performance in the Swiss watch industry.

Brian Carlin gave the press some insights on life aboard a VOR65 for the Imbedded Media Crew. (Photo © George Bekris)

Brian Carlin gave the press some insights on life aboard a VOR65 for the Embedded Media Crew. (Photo © George Bekris)

Prior to the unveiling Brian Carlin former embedded media crew on Vestas gave the press some insight into the life of they lead on the VOR65. The embedded are not allowed to participate in the sailing other than making coffee which he said can make you popular or unpopular depending on your ability to brew a pot.

The coverage a media member on the team has also changed drastically with this edition of the VOR because of the introduction to drone photography and video coverage.  They now have the ability to shoot photos and video from above and hundreds of feet away from the boat at distances out to sea that in other races was beyond the reach of chase boats and helicopters. For the first time 1500 miles from land in the southern ocean they have the ability to document and stream beautifully composed documentation of the boats at sea. It gives the audience around the world an ability to see what usually a helicopter would only be able to see. That prior to now has always been an impossibility in the VOR and any circumnavigations of the world where the boats travel well offshore. They can also inspect the rigging from above and meters away from the masts and sails for any impending problems or concerns.

I did have one question I asked Brian and that was if they lost any of those new drones to the ocean. He smiled and declined to tell me the number they have lost only that accidents do happen out there. I took that to mean the did loose at least one prior to arriving in Newport. But for the advantages given by having those drones losing a couple is probably an acceptable risk.

One shot I liked in the photo display at the village was by Media crew Jen Edney was a photo of a crew members watch wrapped on a stuffed animal. A little touch of soft comfy home life in comparison to the harsh environment they face daily and no doubt that stuffed animal was looked at numerous times daily to keep track of time.

Stuffed animal timekeeper by embedded Media crew Jen Edney (Photo © George Bekris)

Brian also took the press by photos taken by various embedded media crew during the legs so far. There was a display of prints by each boats media crew and some of their favorite shots.  As you can imagine it’s difficult to be in a 65 by 20 foot space for months at a time and keep the photography fresh and interesting.

 

 

Press conference for the OMEGA unveiling at the Sailor's Terrace in Newport. (Photo © George Bekris)

Press conference for the OMEGA unveiling at the Sailor’s Terrace in Newport. (Photo © George Bekris)

#VOR  #OMEGA #Seamaster #LimitedEdition #SeamasterPlanetOcean #VolvoOceanRace #VolvoOceanRaceNewport #VORnewport

 

Ribbon cutting for opening of Newport Race Village (Photo © George Bekris)

Ribbon cutting for opening of Newport Race Village (Photo © George Bekris)

 

NEWPORT, RI (May 8, 2018) – A 5,700 nautical mile race leg from Itajai, Brazil to Newport finished off Fort Adams State Park this morning with a come-from-behind win of Leg 8 by MAPFRE in the global Volvo Ocean Race. Just a day ago, MAPFRE was in fifth place. As Tuesday morning dawned in New England and delivered “pea-soup” fog and light winds, MAPFRE inched ahead of Team Brunel, Dongfeng Race Team and Vestas 11th Hour Racing. The final hours were a slow battle for the exhausted sailors as they also were pushed around by the tide and currents near shore, at times even drifting backward.

 

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport. Arrivals. 08 May (Photo by Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport. Arrivals. 08 May (Photo by Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race)

After nearly 16 days of racing, the margin between MAPFRE who finished at 6:44 a.m., and Team Brunel, was only 1-minute and 1-second. The local crowd cheered on all of the race boats that dramatically popped out of the dense fog one-by-one in close succession, but had an especially warm welcome for third-place winners and hometown sailors Charlie Enright (Bristol, RI) and Newport’s Nick Dana and crew onboard Vestas 11th Hour Racing.

“This leg has had its ups and downs,” said Charlie Enright, the skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing. “We didn’t start great, but we feel like we sailed pretty well for the middle two-thirds of the leg. Then with some positive input from some local knowledge, we end up back on the podium which is great.” Newport is a homecoming for Enright and Dana on Vestas 11th Hour Racing as well as for Mark Towill (Hawaii) who did his college sailing at Brown University in nearby Providence, RI. “It’s awesome here,” Enright said. “It’s 0600 local time here, and the amount of boats out is absurd. The amount of effort put in by Sail Newport and the stopover here is amazing.”  The fleet then finished in the order of Dongfeng Race Team, AkzoNobel, Turn the Tide on Plastic and Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. Check the full scoreboard here.

Newport Mayor, the Hon. Harry Winthrop, and Brad Read, exec. dir. of Sail Newport celebrate the ribbon cutting with the Volvo Ocean race Albatross mascot (Photo © George Bekris)

Rhode Island Welcomes the International Event to the City-by-the-Sea In contrast to the morning’s chilly fog finish, the weather improved to a picture-perfect day with sunny skies and warm temperatures for the official kick-off of the Race Village. The backdrop for the opening ceremony was the U.S.C.G. Barque Eagle which arrived and docked next to the race boats earlier this morning.

The Opening Ceremony was launched with an international Parade of Nations with country flags representing sailors’ home countries, carried by local youth. The parade started at the welcome arch and marched past the Team Bases through the Race Village. The U.S.C.G. Navy Band performed as did the Navy Band Northeast.

 

 

Also, salutes were operated by the Newport Artillery Company. The Harris Family Dance Troupe of The Narragansett Tribal Nation performed for the crowds as well. In addition, The Rogers High School Junior ROTC also joined in the opening festivities.

 

 

The Race Village is now open every day through May 20. The full schedule of events is listed on the website.

 

Tomorrow, May 9, the U.S.C.G. Barque Eagle will host free public tours between 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Admission to the Race Village for the entire event. Parking is free tomorrow.

 

Barque Eagle (Photo © George Bekris)

 

Speaker Brad Read, exec. dir. of Sail Newport, opened the ceremony welcoming the Volvo Ocean Race’s only North American Stopover to Newport. He said that the event has been in the planning stages for three years.

 

Brad Read (Photo © George Bekris)

Read also thanked the many non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and city and state agencies and professionals who helped win the original bid for the Stopover in 2015 and plan for today’s opening. Read also recognized the nearly 700 volunteers that will work the event over the next 13 days.

 

 

Governor Gina Raimondo spoke and welcomed the international visitors to the Ocean State and acknowledged the coordination of many state agencies to help welcome the event to Rhode Island. Janet Coit, director of the R.I. Dept. of Environmental Management, Newport Mayor, the Hon. Harry Winthrop, Eagle Captain Matt Meilstrup, Volvo Ocean Race Operations Director Peter Ansell also made welcoming remarks. Dignitaries also attending the ceremony included: Newport City Council Vice Chair, Lynn Underwood.

To follow the racing and events check out the latest at Volvo Ocean Race.

 #VOR #VolvoOceanRace #VolvoOceanRaceNewport #SailNewport #Newport #FortAdams
Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport. Arrivals. 08 May (Photo by Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport. Arrivals. 08 May (Photo by Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race)

The Spanish team MAPFRE stunned the Volvo Ocean Race fleet on Tuesday morning by stealing a win in Leg 8, with a shocking come-from-behind victory into Newport, Rhode Island.

On Monday, with just 300 miles to go, MAPFRE was in fifth place.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport. Arrivals. 08 May (Photo by Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport. Arrivals. 08 May
(Photo by Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race)

As Tuesday morning dawned, and with the fleet ghosting towards the finish line in extremely light and shifty winds, Xabi Fernández’s team was among the leading quartet, battling in slow motion with Team Brunel, Dongfeng Race Team and Vestas 11th Hour Racing.

And even when the leaders were just 500 metres from the finish line, MAPFRE was still trailing Team Brunel as the pair emerged from the fog within sight of the spectators at the Fort Adams Race Village.

But on approach to the final turning mark, MAPFRE picked up a zephyr of wind to sneak past Brunel and claim what just moments earlier would have been seen as a very improbable leg win.

“This is unbelievable,” skipper Xabi Fernández admitted moments after crossing the finish line. “I can’t be happier. We were always hoping to come back a little bit but to be honest we were not expecting to win this leg, so we’re super happy.

“Our hopes were always that there would be a compression so we could catch someone… Last night has been crazy how much everything has closed up and everyone on board did an amazing job.”

Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel, who had been leading for most of the past week after the equator crossing took a well-deserved second place finish.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 17 on board Dongfeng. 08 May, 2018. Kevin and Marie sleeping at the bow, waiting for the finish. (Photo by Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 17 on board Dongfeng. 08 May, 2018. Kevin and Marie sleeping at the bow, waiting for the finish. (Photo by Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

Dongfeng Race Team, who had been ahead of the fleet on the approach to the east coast overnight Monday night, suffered the cruellest fate over the final miles.

Every break seemed to go against Charles Caudrelier’s team and after being in position to claim the leg win, the team had to settle for fourth place with Vestas 11th Hour Racing storming past Caudrelier’s crew in the final mile of the leg.

“This leg has had its ups and downs,” said Charlie Enright, the skipper of Vesta 11th Hour Racing. “We didn’t start great but we feel like we sailed pretty well for the middle two-thirds of the leg… Then with some positive input from some local knowledge, we end up back on the podium which is great.”

Newport is a homecoming for Enright and Nick Dana on Vestas 11th Hour Racing as well as Mark Towill who did his college sailing nearby.

“It’s awesome here,” Enright said. “It’s 0600 local time here and the amount of boats out is absurd. The amount of effort put in by Sail Newport and the stopover here is amazing.”

The final hours were painful for the exhausted sailors but extraordinary to watch. With the wind nearly shutting down overnight on the approach to Newport, the fleet found itself pushed around by the tide and currents near shore, at times even drifting backwards, away from the finish line.

This meant there was a high degree of uncertainty. Positions were never secure until the finish line was breached by MAPFRE. No one suffered more in the final miles than Dongfeng’s Caudrelier.

“We’re very disappointed,” he said. “We were dreaming about a victory here… But it makes me angry and I will be better on the next one. I am already focussed on the future and I promise Dongfeng will do a fantastic job on the next one.”

The shocking win by MAPFRE has a huge impact on the overall race leaderboard where MAPFRE has regained the lead from Dongfeng, and now sits three points clear at the head of the table. Brunel retains the third podium position.

The light winds near the finish resulted in a massive compression in the fleet, all the way back to SHK/Scallywag who were trailing the leaders by over 130 miles just one day ago. But as MAPFRE crossed the finish line on Tuesday morning, David Witt’s team was less than 20 miles behind.

Race boats docked at Newport Race Village (Photo by George Bekris)

Race boats docked at Newport Race Village (Photo by George Bekris)

 

Leg 8
Itajaí to Newport
8 May 2018
Positions at: 14:04 UTC
DTL nm GAIN_LOSS STS SPE CO TW T DTF
1 MAPF ARV Elapsed time: 15d 17:44:29
2 TBRU ARV Elapsed time: 15d 17:45:30
3 VS11 ARV Elapsed time: 15d 17:59:04
4 DFRT ARV Elapsed time: 15d 18:25:21
5 AKZO ARV Elapsed time: 15d 19:21:22
6 TTOP ARV Elapsed time: 15d 19:24:14
7 SHKS ARV Elapsed time: 15d 20:56:52
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Extras Total
1 MAPF 6 7 14 4 1 5 6 7 3 53
2 DFRT 5 6 12 6 1 4 12 4 50
3 TBRU 2 4 8 3 1 2 14 6 2 42
4 AKZO 4 3 2 5 1 7 10 3 1 36
5 VS11 7 5 10 0 0 0 0 5 1 28
6 SHKS 3 2 6 7 1 6 0 1 1 27
7 TTOP 1 1 4 2 1 3 8 2 22
Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Brunel. Peeling in the North Atlantic one day out from Newport. 06 May, 2018. (Photo © Sam Greenfield/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Brunel. Peeling in the North Atlantic one day out from Newport. 06 May, 2018.
(Photo © Sam Greenfield/Volvo Ocean Race)

Team Brunel were on the brink of Leg 8 victory on Monday as they led the seven-strong Volvo Ocean Race fleet towards Newport, USA, with a 14-mile advantage.

The Dutch crew, skippered by esteemed round the world yachtsman Bouwe Bekking, were speeding up after making it through a light wind patch lying 200 miles from the finish line ahead of their rivals.

At 0700 UTC their lead had been reduced to just seven miles, pressed hard by Franco-Chinese outfit Dongfeng Race Team, but by 1300 the new breeze had allowed them to double that.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Vestas 11th Hour. Charlie Enright at the pit before the gybe. 06 May, 2018. (Photo © Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Vestas 11th Hour. Charlie Enright at the pit before the gybe. 06 May, 2018. (Photo © Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race)

Brunel had just 182.2 miles to go at the 1300 UTC position update, having led the fleet on the 5,600-mile leg from Itajai, Brazil, since exiting the Doldrums a week ago.

If Brunel were to hang on it would be their second consecutive stage win having taken the top spot in Leg 7.

However, despite Brunel’s lead, helmsman Kyle Langford is predicting a photo finish.

“There’s going to be plenty of action on deck and not a lot of sleep,” he said. “It’s going to be all on for the last 24 hours.”

Across the fleet the crews were today preparing for one last big push.

“We now have 30 hours of hard work, strong winds, light winds, big transitions and lots of   sail changes,” said Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Dongfeng. 06 May, 2018. Charles Caudrelier stacking while Jackson gets out of the hatch, ready to help. (Photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Dongfeng. 06 May, 2018. Charles Caudrelier stacking while Jackson gets out of the hatch, ready to help. (Photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

“All the team is in inshore mode and on standby. We have to keep this second place or pass Team Brunel, but ahead of us we face a very tricky situation and there are lots of options and maybe a re-start in light air in 12 hours’ time.

“We need maximum concentration. There is maximum stress on board but we are happy to arrive in this fantastic place for a stopover.”

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Turn the Tide on Plastic. 07 May, 2018. (Photo © James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Turn the Tide on Plastic. 07 May, 2018. (Photo © James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race)

Having climbed through the fleet over the past few days, at 1300 UTC MAPFRE had overhauled Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic in the rankings to move into third.

It’s a cruel blow for Turn the Tide on Plastic crew, who have pushed for the top spot all leg and led at times, but skipper Dee Caffari said she wouldn’t stop fighting until the finish.

“It’s disappointing but there are still opportunities,” she said. “The wind is starting to fill, and it’s not over yet.”

The Volvo Ocean Race tracker will remain live until the end of the leg, showing race fans the exact positions of the fleet as they battle for Leg 8 glory.

The latest ETA for the leading boats is 0600 – 1000 UTC at the moment.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board MAPFRE, back to 20+ kts of boat speed. Rob, Willy, Xabi an Tamara on deck. 06 May, 2018. ( Photo © Ugo Fonolla/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board MAPFRE, back to 20+ kts of boat speed. Rob, Willy, Xabi an Tamara on deck. 06 May, 2018. ( Photo © Ugo Fonolla/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

 

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 12 on board Dongfeng. 03 May, 2018. (Photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 12 on board Dongfeng. 03 May, 2018.

Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel continues to lead the Volvo Ocean Race fleet towards the Leg 8 finish in Newport, USA, as the teams enter the final 1,500 miles.

Bekking’s Dutch-flagged crew jumped into the top spot on May 1 after exiting the Doldrums and have so far defended their position despite spirited attacks from their rivals.

Twelve days into the 5,600-mile sprint from Itajaí in Brazil, the quick sailing through the trade winds was continuing Friday – although lighter winds lay in wait further down the track, meaning Brunel’s lead of seven miles is far from secure.

Bekking said his crew were making the most of the ideal conditions while they last.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 11 on board Brunel. Abby Ehler on the bow cleaning Sargassum weeds. 02 May, 2018.3 Sam Greenfield/Volvo Ocean Race

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 11 on board Brunel. Abby Ehler on the bow cleaning Sargassum weeds. 02 May, 2018.3

“We are pushing to the max we can do,” the veteran Volvo Ocean Race sailor said. “We know we are sailing into less pressure so the boats behind us will keep gaining, annoying but a fact we have to live with.

“Capey, our navigator, is relaxed in his own way, but can see and feel that it is game on. He makes I don’t know how many simulations for all the routes possible from here to Newport and we are discussing this together with Pete (Burling) as well.

“Two very important factors are the high pressure system east of Bermuda and the Gulf Stream which runs from Florida into a north east direction towards Europe.

“The current can run up to five to six knots. Unfortunately it is not one straight stream, it has big eddies, so if you do it wrong you can have five knots against you while another boat has five knots with them. But we are confident!”

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day xx on board Turn the Tide on Plastic. 03 May, 2018. (Photo © James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race)

Around 25 miles south east of Brunel, Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic slipped out of the podium spots after hitting a patch of lighter wind.

As the seven teams drew level with Puerto Rico, Vestas 11th Hour Racing were able to skirt round the outside of them into third.

“Three disappointing position reports in a row is frustrating and could get you down,” Caffari said. “However, we will fight harder, we just need to let these rain clouds know…

“During the early hours of this morning the rain clouds carried some squally action and huge shifts. One minute we were in 28 knots of wind heading towards the Caribbean and then the next moment we were lifted, towards the centre of the high pressure, in 14 knots of wind.

“We can only sail in the conditions that we have and we are working hard but it seems everyone else’s clouds are more user friendly allowing them to keep gaining on us and we are slipping back.

“If it is not the up and down and shifts of the wind then it is this Sargassum weed. Rudders no longer having smooth water flow lose grip and the boat spinning out is not fast.

“We have two more days of this express highway and then the breeze will start to decrease before we gybe and sail on port. We then face a lot of action and sail changes between us and the finish from that gybe point.”

Out to the east of the leaders, MAPFRE and team AkzoNobel are in a dead heat for fifth place, about 45 miles off the lead.

Meanwhile, seventh-placed Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag clawed back miles on the leaders as they posted the best 24-hour distance run of the fleet, notching up 513 miles.

Scallywag crewmember Pete Cumming, racing in his first Volvo Ocean Race leg, said the crew had not lost hope of catching their rivals despite a 181-mile deficit on Brunel.

“We still believe it’s going to be close at the finish,” he said. “There’s going to be a transition close to the finish and our routing has us coming in a few hours behind the leaders.”

 

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 12 on board Vestas 11th Hour. Drone shot full speed downwind 23knts boat speed. 03 May, 2018.
(Photo © Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8
Itajaí to Newport
4 May 2018
Positions at: 14:18 UTC
DTL G_L STAT SPD CRS TWS TW DTF nm ETA
UTC
1 TBRU 0.00 0.00 RAC 24.6 312º 22.8 92º 1400.64 08 May
2 DFRT 7.20 0.02 RAC 22.2 319º 23.5 93º 1407.84 08 May
3 VS11 12.46  0.04 RAC 18.3 303º 16.3 70º 1413.10 08 May
4 TTOP 21.15 0.00 RAC 18.6 335º 19.5 95º 1421.79 08 May
5 MAPF 45.00 0.07 RAC 23.6 321º 21.8 101º 1445.65 08 May
6 AKZO 45.20 0.08 RAC 23.1 330º 23.8 101º 1445.84 08 May
7 SHKS 178.20 0.03 RAC 21.3 315º 21.3 86º 1578.84 08 May

 Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 12 on board Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. Wide angle of sprayed deck. 03 May, 2018. (Photo © Rich Edwards/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 12 on board Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. Wide angle of sprayed deck. 03 May, 2018. (Photo © Rich Edwards/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April (Photo ©  Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April (Photo ©
Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

MAPFRE takes a close win over team AkzoNobel and Dongfeng Race Team in Brazil In Port Race, while SHK/Scallywag race the clock to be on the start line on Sunday…

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April

Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race

The Spanish team MAPFRE won the Itajaí In-Port Race on Friday in Brazil, after battling with team AkzoNobel for the lead on the first of three laps of the race course.

A large spectator fleet was on hand to watch the racing in a moderate 10 knot sea breeze and after taking the lead on the first downwind leg, MAPFRE protected well the rest of the way.

The win allows skipper Xabi Fernández and his team to extend their advantage in the In-Port Race Series over Dongfeng Race Team who finished in third place on Friday.

“It was a good race for us today, right from the start, but the key for us was being able to pass AkzoNobel on the first downwind,” Fernández said. “From there we could stretch.

“Being the series leader is always good. We know how tight the overall race leaderboard is where we’re just one point behind Dongfeng, so this could be important at the end of the race and for that we are happy today.”

Team AkzoNobel was a close second place in Itajaí, which secures their third place position on the series leaderboard.

“When we looked at the conditions and the race course today we knew the start would be critical and we had a very good start with pace,” skipper Simeon Tienpont said. “But MAPFRE did a really good job. We were waiting for them to make a mistake but they did the best race today and we’re very happy with second place.”

Dongfeng Race Team was also content with a podium result.

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

“We didn’t have a good start but we were able to use the mistakes of the others to get back near the leaders,” skipper Charles Caudrelier said. “We sailed the rest of the race well but there was not so much opportunity.”

Turn the Tide on Plastic scored their best finish of the series with a fourth place result and has moved off the bottom of the series leaderboard.

Team Brunel had a promising start on Friday but was undone by a sail handling error at the top mark, which dropped them from challenging for the lead to battling with Vestas 11th Hour Racing at the back of the fleet.

Team SHK/Scallywag didn’t take the start on Friday, with the boat still out of the water being prepared to take the start of Leg 8 on Sunday. It’s a race against the clock to get the boat ready in time.

Itajai Stopover. Press conference. 20 April, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Earlier, at the skippers’ press conference, Scallywag’s David Witt spoke poignantly about the loss of his friend and teammate John Fisher:

“We started together 12 years ago and he was always the first guy picked… the biggest compliment I could give John is that he was the best team player I’ve ever seen. He put everyone else first.

“For me, he was my best mate. Sunday will be a bit weird – it will be the first time I’ve gone to sea without him in 12 years…

“But we’ve had amazing support from within the Volvo Ocean Race family. The character of the people in this race has been exemplified by the way we’ve been supported by the other competitors in this race… I’m sure John would be very proud about that.

“The best thing we can do in John’s memory is get on with the job on Sunday… If he was standing behind be right now he’d be telling me to harden up and get on with it and that’s what we’re going to do on Sunday.”

 

Itajai Stopover. Press conference. 20 April, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Itajaí, Brazil to Newport, Rhode Island, starts on Sunday 22 April.

Itajaí In-Port Race — Results
1. MAPFRE – 7 points
2. Team AkzoNobel – 6 points
3. Dongfeng Race Team – 5 points
4. Turn the Tide on Plastic – 4 points
5. Team Brunel – 3 points
6. Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 2 points
7. Team SHK/Scallywag – did not start

Current Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race Series Leaderboard
1. MAPFRE – 44 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team – 39 points
3. team AkzoNobel – 33 points
4. Team Brunel – 29 points
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 18 points
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic – 15 points
7. Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag – 15 points

 

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April (Photo ©  Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April (Photo ©
Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)