Ya​nn Riou​ Dongfen​g Race T​eam

Charles Caudrelier deep in thought (Photo by Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team

 200 miles to go. After 9 months and nearly 40,000 miles
Dongfeng slenderest of leads over main rivals Brunel and Mapfre, but seems like it will not mean much this evening.

Caudrelier: “For us its easy to go from 3rd place to 5th place (overall), and also to come back to second. Everything can happen still”

The podium of the Volvo Ocean Race might just come down to a total lottery tonight as wind forecasts predict a difficult transition as Charles Caudrelier describes “from the current strong southerly winds that have carried Dongfeng up the North Sea, to some light easterly winds that will should get us to the finish line. Its going to be stressful”.In between potentially little or no wind at all – during the early evening tonight in theory. The battleground will probably be between Hanstholm and Skagen, the two towns with a bay between them, that mark the northern tip of Denmark. But even now the compression is starting, from Yanndirect this morning “Still coming back from behind. Less than 4 miles, now. Nothing we can do about it. Not a nice feeling”. More often than not in ocean racing, the rich get richer – but this time its not going to work like that. The guys (and girls) behind are going to sail on in pressure as the boats in front that worked so hard to grind out their leads, will stop in the transition zone between the old and new winds.The warm front moving from the UK east, that has been chasing the fleet since they left, is going to slow down and stall before it gets to them, at least at surface level. Higher up in the atmosphere its forecast to continue east – this differential between up high and at the surface, will provide the conditions for a new low to form, bringing new winds – but the transition could be long – and in the meantime somehow the boats have to get from the old to the new. This in effect should allow almost all, if not all, the backmarkers to sail straight to the front, with the leaders helpless.

It will be tragic if the entire race comes down to luck, but then this is part of ocean racing. Since Dong Feng means ’winds from the east bringing freshness and energy’ and Aeolus being the Guardian of the Winds – on land we can only hope and pray to whatever Gods we believe in, that luck will be on our side, and that we will get the podium finish we deserve!

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June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

Skipper Sam Davies (GBR) and her Team SCA crew struck a resounding blow for women’s offshore sailing in the early hours of Thursday morning when they gloriously clinched Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

SCA1
SCA1 FIN – 03d 13h 11m 11s
VEST
VEST FIN – 03d 13h 59m 38s
ADOR
ADOR 0.3 10.9 3 11.1
MAPF
MAPF 0.8 11.3 4 11.7
TBRU
TBRU 1.8 11.5 5 12.4
ALVI
ALVI 2.3 11.7 5 12.9
DFRT
DFRT 5.5 11.7 8 13.2

Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard hereº MAPFRE given 2-point penalty Leg 5
Dongfeng Race Team, Team SCA & MAPFRE penalised Leg 7

– A resounding blow for women’s offshore sailing
– Team Vestas Wind bounce back for second place
– Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing nearing overall trophy win

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

LORIENT, France, June 11 – Skipper Sam Davies (GBR) and her Team SCA crew struck a resounding blow for women’s offshore sailing in the early hours of Thursday morning when they gloriously clinched Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The comfortable victory was the first leg win in offshore sailing’s toughest challenge since Tracy Edwards’ Maidenclinched two stage wins in Class D of the 1989-90 race, won overall by Sir Peter Blake’s famous Steinlager2.

At least as satisfying for the first all-women’s crew to enter the race in 12 years will be the opportunity to silence critics who suggested that they were looking outclassed in the current 12th edition by their experienced male rivals.

True, the Swedish entry had yet to win a podium place until now, but the crew has clearly improved leg after leg and many observers felt that a breakthrough performance was just around the corner.

The win was certainly no fluke in an upwind leg that tested seamanship to the full with an often heinous sea state and strong winds virtually throughout.

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

They grabbed the 647-nautical mile leg from Lisbon by the scruff of the neck on Monday, and strengthened that grip on Tuesday after taking an offshore course while most of their rivals hugged the Spanish and French coast approaching the Bay of Biscay.

It took them three days 13 hours 11 minutes and 11 seconds to grab their share of Race history.

“Thanks to everybody for all your support. It’s not really sunk in yet,” said a jubilant Davies. “It probably won’t hit us until we hit the dock and we see there aren’t any other boats there.

“It’s a reward for all the hard work we have done. It’s a great confidence booster. It’s going to be huge for us. We’ve had a mountain to climb to get here.”

June 11, 2015. Team Vestas Wind arrives in second position for Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team Vestas Wind arrives in second position for Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

Behind them, another fairy-tale was unfolding as Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) closed to a remarkable second-placed finish in their return to the race after six months out following a collision with an Indian Ocean reef on November 29 during Leg 2.

Nicholson had every reason for the huge smile on his face as he approached the port of Lorient following a near perfect race from Lisbon starting on Sunday.

He had simply hoped that his boat could negotiate the leg without mishap and be competitive – a high podium finish is almost beyond his wildest dreams.

June 11, 2015. Team Vestas Wind arrives in second position for Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team Vestas Wind arrives in second position for Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

“It’s a very special moment,” said the team’s Onboard Reporter, Brian Carlin (IRL), simply.

Astern of the leading pair, third-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) were nearing an ever bigger prize than the handsome silver leg trophy claimed by Team SCA.

They needed simply to finish ahead of their nearest overall pursuers in the standings,Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), with a boat in between, to be all but be sure of winning the 12th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

As Team SCA passed the finish at 0211 UTC/0411 local time on Thursday, that prospect looked very much on with MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) in fourth, Team Brunel fifth, and Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) keeping Dongfeng Race Team at bay in the fight for sixth.

The boats will have a short maintenance period before Sunday’s SCA In-Port Race here in Lorient, before the fleet set sail for Gothenburg via a much-awaited pit-stop in The Hague, on Tuesday, June 16.

It promises to be a period of considerable celebration for at least three crews of very, very happy sailors.

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) completed a triumphant Leg 7 early on Wednesday to bolster their hopes of finishing with a podium place in the Volvo Ocean Race and also keep alive their hopes of overall victory

. MAPFRE arrives to Lisbon in second position after Leg 7 from Newport. MAPFRE Skipper Iker Martinez and Team Brunel Skipper Bouwe Bekking congratulate each other on stage. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race )

May 27, 2015. MAPFRE arrives to Lisbon in second position after Leg 7 from Newport. MAPFRE Skipper Iker Martinez and Team Brunel Skipper Bouwe Bekking congratulate each other on stage. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race )

Leg 7
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

TBRU
TBRU FIN – 09d 11h 09m 49s
MAPF
MAPF FIN – 09d 11h 31m 39s
ALVI
ALVI FIN – 09d 12h 50m 49s
DFRT
DFRT FIN – 09d 12h 51m 44s
ADOR
ADOR FIN – 09d 13h 24m 34s
SCA1
SCA1 FIN – 09d 15h 32m 38s
VEST
VEST Did Not Start

Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard here º MAPFRE given two-point penalty – read more

– Team Brunel edge home ahead in transatlantic leg
– MAPFRE chase them all the way into Lisbon
– Team Alvimedica beat Dongfeng in thrilling dogfight
– Team Vestas Wind are reunited with rest of the fleet

Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

LISBON, Portugal, May 27 – Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) completed a triumphant Leg 7 early on Wednesday to bolster their hopes of finishing with a podium place in the Volvo Ocean Race and also keep alive the possibility of overall victory.

Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

The Dutch boat sailed a near faultless transatlantic stage, edging MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) into second, just under 22 minutes behind.

Behind them, Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) edged out long-time leg leaders, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), after an enthralling dogfight over the final miles.

The Chinese-backed boat was caught by Enright’s crew in the early hours of Wednesday, but battled their way back and looked sure to overtake them again before a botched tack ruined their chances.

Leg 7 arrivals in Lisbon; Team Alvimedica and Dongfeng Race Team take the fight right to the finish line. (Photo by  Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Leg 7 arrivals in Lisbon; Team Alvimedica and Dongfeng Race Team take the fight right to the finish line. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

They lost out by just 55 seconds after nearly nine days and 13 hours of sailing across 2,800 nautical miles (nm).

With overall leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) finishing fifth ahead of Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), the overall race standings are left finely poised.

The Emirati crew now have a five-point lead over Dongfeng Race Team with two short legs to sail, while Team Brunel are a point further adrift of Charles Caudrelier’s crew.

Leg 7 arrivals in Lisbon; MAPFRE come in to Lisbon in second place. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Leg 7 arrivals in Lisbon; MAPFRE come in to Lisbon in second place. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

Caudrelier made no attempt to hide his disappointment after leading the leg for so long and seeing a podium place disappear in the final miles.

“I’m feeling very bad, very upset and very sad,” he summed up. “We deserved better, but I guess that’s life.

“Most of all, I’m upset with myself because my crew did a great job and I made a huge mistake – and I don’t accept mistakes. We really missed a chance in this leg with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing finishing fifth.”

Few sailors in the fleet will savour a win over one of the race’s trademark legs more than Team Brunel’s 51-year-old skipper, Bouwe Bekking, in his record-equalling seventh appearance.

 Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race )

May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race )

He has certainly experienced the ups and downs of racing across the Atlantic. Few will forget the agonising position he faced in 2006 before he was finally forced to abandon his sinking movistar boat during the same stage of that Volvo Ocean Race.

Bekking insisted last week that he had not lost ‘a single night’s sleep’ over the incident and the confident way that Team Brunel sailed the leg would bear that out.

Team Brunel were harried all the way over the past 24 hours by both MAPFRE and Dongfeng Race Team, especially over the final few miles when the breeze dropped to almost zero in the Tagus River as they approached the Lisbon finish.

“We sailed a tremendous leg but just at the end when there was no wind, it was getting a bit gnarly,” said Bekking. “But we pulled it off.”

The victory was achieved with two newcomers on board, Adam Minoprio (NZL) and Timo Hagoort (NED), the latter replacing the injured Gerd-Jan Poortman (NED).

“It was good to have those young guys on board, they did a fantastic job,” added Bekking.

Team SCA crossed the line, some four hours and 22 minutes behind Team Brunel (see panel above), after an action-packed transatlantic leg in which they sailed within the pack for much of the nine days and at one stage threatened a podium finish after taking a bold strategic choice around the Azores High.

May 27, 2015. Leg 7 to Lisbon onboard Team SCA. Day 10. The team sit 8 miles out from the finish line in Lisbon with little to no wind.

May 27, 2015. Leg 7 to Lisbon onboard Team SCA. Day 10. The team sit 8 miles out from the finish line in Lisbon with little to no wind. (Photo by Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race )

The final two stages, to Lorient (France) and then Gothenburg (Sweden) via a pit-stop in The Hague (Netherlands), will once again be contested by seven boats.

Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) rejoin the fleet for the first time since November 29 when the boat was grounded on a reef in the Indian Ocean.

After a four-month rebuild in the Persico boatyard in Bergamo, Italy, the boat was transported by sea and road to Lisbon, arriving a few hours before the rest of the fleet in the small hours of Wednesday morning.

Over the next few days, the rig will be stepped ahead of the Danish-backed team’s competitive comeback on June 6 in the Lisbon In-Port Race. Leg 8 to Lorient, a relative sprint at 647nm, begins a day later.

The race concludes on June 27 with the In-Port Race in Gothenburg after nine months and 38,739nm of sailing, visiting 11 ports and every continent.

Current latest standings (low points wins, In-Port Race Series splits ties): 1) Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 16 pts, 2) Dongfeng Race Team 21, 3) Team Brunel 22, 4) MAPFRE 26, 5) Team Alvimedica 27, 6) Team SCA 41, 7) Team Vestas Wind (Denmark) 52 (DNS).

May 3, 2015. Leg 6 to Newport onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Day 14. This boat gets so damn steep (Photo by Sam Greenfield/Team Dongfeng/Volvo Ocean Race).

May 3, 2015. Leg 6 to Newport onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Day 14. This boat gets so damn steep (Photo by Sam Greenfield/Team Dongfeng/Volvo Ocean Race).

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet found fair winds rather then the ill fortune of repute as they raced through the Bermuda Triangle in the thrilling Leg 6 race towards Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on Monday .

 

Leg 6
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

DFRT
DFRT 0.0 0.0 844 16.3
TBRU
TBRU 7.4 0.3 851 16.3
ADOR
ADOR 10.7 2.1 854 16.9
MAPF
MAPF 27.8 2.2 871 17.3
ALVI
ALVI 29.6 1.8 873 17
SCA1
SCA1 82.9 4.5 926 16.1
VEST
VEST Did Not Start

Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard here º MAPFRE given two-point penalty – read more

– Sailors admit fatigue in relentless ‘grinding of nerves’
– The Bermuda Triangle – a menace or a myth?
– Check out the run-in to Newport on our App

ALICANTE, Spain, May 4 – The Volvo Ocean Race fleet found fair winds rather then the ill fortune of repute as they raced through the Bermuda Triangle in the thrilling Leg 6 race towards Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on Monday. They all have under 1,000 nautical miles (nm) to go.

The six boats had feared a slow-down and fleet compression through an area of low pressure mid-Atlantic in the geographic triangle that separates Bermuda, Costa Rica and Miami, but instead the crews continued virtually unhindered.

Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), so determined to close the seven-point gap on overall race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), continued to hold a slight 7.4nm advantage in the latest position report on Monday (0940 UTC).

Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) led the chasing pack with Azzam hot on their heels 3.3nm astern of them (see panel above). The three had opened up a small gap over MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP), who were having their own dogfight with Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), some 17nm behind Ian Walker’s crew.

MAPFRE suffered a brief scare when the boat was knocked down to crash flat on its side, before it swifly righted itself courtesy of swift teamwork among the crew.

Team SCA, to the east of those two packs, were still struggling to keep pace, some 82.9nm behind Dongfeng.

The six boats are expected to escape the Bermuda Triangle later in the day and then face one last major gybe on Tuesday evening before the final sprint for the finish line after an absorbing 5,010nm leg.

Many of the sailors have been admitting that the relentless close quarter sailing of six well-matched crews on identical Volvo Ocean 65 boats is beginning to take its toll on nerves and body alike after seven months at sea.

Charles Caudrelier, skipper of the stage leaders Dongfeng Race Team, summed up: “According to the clouds and narrow corridors of wind, we have good and bad phases. It grinds down the nerves. The one-design (boat) has totally changed the regatta on the water.”

At the other end of the fleet, Sam Davies, of Team SCA, is equally feeling the pace. “I feel like the last seven months of racing is taking its toll on my body and I am trying to play catch-up in order to be able to do my job properly,” she wrote. “This racing is a crazy life.”

The boats are forecasted to arrive in Newport on May 7 after 17 days of sailing from Itajaí, Brazil. They will then have 10 days in dock for maintenance before setting off for the final transatlantic crossing to Lisbon, Portugal.

There are then two more legs taking in France (Lorient), The Netherlands (The Hague) and Sweden, with the race concluding on June 27 in Gothenburg after nine months of racing.

Bernard Bonneau (FRA) jury Chairman (Photo by Carmen Hidalgo / Volvo Ocean Race)

Bernard Bonneau (FRA) jury Chairman (Photo by Carmen Hidalgo / Volvo Ocean Race)

.– MAPFRE protest hearing – ISAF jury decision here
– Dongfeng Race Team permitted to use replacement sail in Leg 6
– Team SCA and Team Vestas Wind refused permission to change their sails

Leg 5 total
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 1 9
Dongfeng Race Team 8*** 16
Team Brunel 4 18
Team Alvimedica 3 19
MAPFRE 2 20º
Team SCA 5 29
Team Vestas Wind 8* 36

* Did Not Start | ** Did Not Finish | *** Retired | **** Disqualified | ***** Given Redress | ****** Provisional º

 

ITAJAÍ, Brazil, April 17 – The Spanish team MAPFRE were given a two-point penalty on Thursday by the ISAF-appointed independent jury for rules breaches during Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. In separate decisions, the jury made key rulings about the use of replacement sails for three teams.

ISAF Jury (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez  Volvo Ocean Race )

ISAF Jury (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez Volvo Ocean Race )

 

After hearing evidence from Race Management and the team on Wednesday, the jury, headed by Bernard Bonneau, ruled that the Spanish team had applied repairs and alterations on the hull and on an outrigger without informing the Volvo Ocean 65 Class Authority (VCA) and therefore broke the Volvo Ocean 65 class rules as well as the race rules.

The Volvo Ocean 65 class rules require that if a team considers that a repair is necessary, it shall inform the VCA immediately.

Bonneau added that the five-strong jury had decided that the work was not done with the purpose of improving the performance of the Spanish team during Leg 5 and their second place in the stage stands.

The ruling, however, means that their overall points total is now 20 after five legs and they thus drop from fourth to fifth in the standings (see panel above).

The team had earlier argued in the hearing through their rules advisor, Luis Sáenz Mariscal, that in both cases with their bow and outrigger, skipper Iker Martínez had made the reinforcements because of fears that both were damaged.

Sáenz Mariscal added that the outrigger had broken on previous occasions in the race and the crew had heard a bang from the bow and feared it was delaminating.

He said that in Southern Ocean conditions, Martínez feared that the boat and crew were in danger if the measures were not taken. He said the crew had not informed the VCA, but had openly shared video content showing repairs to Race Control in Alicante, Spain.

Martínez was also a skipper in the last edition in 2011-12, when his boat’s bow delaminated and he was forced to nurse the boat to Argentina for repairs.

In a separate decision by the ISAF Jury, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) was given permission to replace their damaged race mainsail with their pre-race mainsail for the forthcoming Team Vestas Wnd Itajaí In-Port Race as well as Leg 6, which starts on Sunday (April 19).

Dongfeng Race Team had nursed their boat to safety in Argentina after the top of the mast fractured, 200 nautical miles from Cape Horn, during Leg 5. Caudrelier explained they had no option but to cut the mainsail to prevent further damage, potentially endangering the crew.

However, similar applications from Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), to replace their fractional code zero sail, and Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) to replace their J3 when they return to the race following their grounding on a reef in Leg 2, were denied.

Team SCA’s sail was unusable during the stage after it was badly damaged during a Chinese gybe. It has since been repaired but according to skipper Sam Davies, may tear again once the boat returns to sea on Leg 6 from Sunday.

The race rules specify that if a boat damages beyond repair or loses a sail and does not have a spare race sail of the same code, it may apply in writing to the VCA and to the international jury for permission to use her pre-race sail of the same code.

The international jury’s full decisions can be found here: http://noticeboard.volvooceanrace.com

 

March 22, 2015. Leg 5 to Itajai onboard MAPFRE. Day 04. Skipper Iker Martinez glues on of the battens to stick to the hull (Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE / Volvo Ocean Race)

March 22, 2015. Leg 5 to Itajai onboard MAPFRE. Day 04. Skipper Iker Martinez glues on of the battens to stick to the hull (Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE / Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Into the Southern Ocean for Team Dongfeng  (Photo by Ya​nn Riou/​ Dongfen​g Race T​eam)

Into the Southern Ocean for Team Dongfeng (Photo by Ya​nn Riou/​ Dongfen​g Race T​eam)

“For Wolf and Black its one hell of a baptism, and for our team, the big challenge of this Volvo Ocean Race” – Charles Caudrelier

Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier sent his first report from onboard Dongfeng on Leg 5 to Itajai, Brazil:

The first miles of this leg were truly magnificent.
Sailing along the New Zealand coast is exceptionally beautiful and interesting.
The start of this leg confirmed that the [performance] level of this race doesn’t stop increasing, and its more and more homogenous across the fleet.

There were at least 5 changes of leader in the first 24 hours and the smallest of errors were very expensive. A wrong sail choice when we were sailing down the coast cost us some precious miles, and pinned us back in an unfavourable position for the last 24 hours. But looking ahead at what is waiting for us before Cape Horn, this deficit is negligible and the next 10 days of racing will be full of traps and speed races where sail choices will be complicated, yet fundamental to the leaderboard. In certain conditions a sail change is sometimes impossible and we have to really slow down to do it. A bad sail choice can quickly cost a hundred miles.

For Dongfeng this leg will be tough, its in these difficult conditions and strong winds that we feel the lack of experience of our Chinese sailors. Even if they are showing remarkable bravery, its an extra pressure on all of us, and notably on me as skipper. I’m responsible for them in the bad weather and I have to judge all the time what we are capable of doing or not [in terms of safety]. In previous legs we had some margin for error, but in the south there are some errors we simply can’t commit. We have trained in some bad weather, but they have never experienced more than 24 hours of rough racing conditions. And in front of us are 4,500 miles of racing to Cape Horn in Southern Ocean storms, and we have to try to keep the same pace as the seasoned sailors and highly experienced teams for the next 10 days.

For Wolf and Black its one hell of a baptism, and for our team, the big challenge of this Volvo.

You can follow our story and interact with the team on all social media channels and our official website:Facebook: Click here
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Wet, noisy and violent as these images show from our onboard reporter, Yann Riou.

“The situation onboard is hard, I got seasick and it’s very bad. Eric is sick too. The wind speed is up to 30 knots, and the boat keeps crashing” – Black

Wet, noi​sy and v​iolent c​ondition​s onboar​d as Don​gfeng wi​th 30 kn​ots of b​reeze in​ 5–6 met​re waves​.
Charles ​Caudreli​er grind​ing onbo​ard Dong​feng as ​waves cr​ash over​ the dec​k.
Kevin Es​coffier ​cleaning​ the hal​yards af​ter a sa​il chang​e onboar​d Dongfe​ng.
Action o​n deck a​s Dongfe​ng try t​o fix th​eir lack​ of spee​d.
Pascal g​ives Cha​rles a q​uick upd​ate onbo​ard Dong​feng.
Cleaning​ the rop​es after​ a manoe​uvre onb​oard.
Dongfeng​ cross t​he Inter​national​ Datelin​e in wet​ conditi​ons.

 

 

March 14, 2015. New Zealand Herald In-Port Race: Winner Team SCA, second position for Team Brunel and third for MAPFRE (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

March 14, 2015. New Zealand Herald In-Port Race: Winner Team SCA, second position for Team Brunel and third for MAPFRE (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

 Team SCA became the only crew in the Volvo Ocean Race to claim two in-port victories on Saturday after a thrilling start-to-finish win in Auckland (full story below).

In-Port AUCKLAND total
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 6 14
Team Brunel 2 14
Team SCA 1 16
Dongfeng Race Team 4 18
Team Alvimedica 5 20
MAPFRE 3 25
Team Vestas Wind 8* 36

* Did Not Start | ** Did Not Finish | *** Retired | **** Disqualified | ***** Given Redress | ****** Provisional

– All women’s crew dominate in ‘City of Sails’
– Runners-up Team Brunel move joint top in standings

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, March 14 – Team SCA became the only crew in the Volvo Ocean Race to claim two in-port victories on Saturday after a thrilling start-to-finish win in Auckland – “by keeping it simple”.

It was a fight all the way, however, in surely the most exciting in-port race in the 2014-15 edition with Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) narrowly beaten to the line by Sam Davies’ (GBR) all-women crew.

Afterwards, the women’s boat’s navigator Libby Greenhalgh (GBR) summed up their success in the New Zealand Herald In-Port Race: “We won it because we kept it simple, kept our manoeuvres to a minimum and that’s what paid out for us.”

Team Brunel skipper Bekking, however, had the consolation of moving joint top of the In-Port Race standings on 14 points with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) who lost out in their own enthralling tussle with Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) for fifth place.

The Turkish/American boat ran down ‘Azzam’ with barely metres to spare at the finish line, cheered on by fans in an absolutely packed Auckland harbour.

The Emirati boat retains the edge, however, thanks to the best individual results overall in the series (see panel above).

Just as in their previous in-port success in Abu Dhabi in early January, Davies and her crew have shown in the short races they are more than a match for their male rivals and this success will be another confidence-booster ahead of the weather-delayed Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajaí.

“We’re really happy, the City of Sails made a fantastic arena for us to race in today,” said a jubilant Davies.

“It was really, really hard. We learned that in the practice races beforehand, we made all the mistakes then and today was just brilliant.

“We had a really good teamwork, a great start, good tactics, everything worked perfectly onboard Team SCA today.

“I’m really happy because it’s going to boost our team’s morale for the next two days while we wait for (Cyclone) Pam to leave us some space to go out in the Southern Ocean.”

Greenhalgh added: “We’re stoked. It wasn’t really secure until the last little bit when we’d gone around the bottom mark.”

MAPFRE, who had led the chase to catch Team SCA after another runaway start, enjoyed the consolation of a third place podium finish on the return of skipper Iker Martínez (ESP) after he missed the last two legs to concentrate on Olympic training for Rio 2016.

The race, mercifully raced in variable but perfect conditions before Cyclone Pam hits the region, leaves the in-port race series perfectly poised with Team SCA just two points behind the leading pair.

They in turn head Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) by two points following a fourth place finish in Auckland for the Chinese boat.

The leg departure for the treacherous Southern Ocean/Cape Horn leg to Brazil has been delayed until midday local time on Tuesday at the earliest because of the Category 5 Cyclone Pam, which has been blowing winds of around 250 kilometres an hour.

Race management will make a decision in the next 24 hours to confirm that the fleet is safe to sail at that time having postponed the departure from Sunday at 1400 local time (0100 GMT).

 

The Volvo Ocean Race launches a new young sailor award in a major sailing competition in the Gulf. It's aimed at attracting a fresh generation of offshore sailors, following champions like Damien Foxall (Photo © Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

The Volvo Ocean Race launches a new young sailor award in a major sailing competition in the Gulf. It’s aimed at attracting a fresh generation of offshore sailors, following champions like Damien Foxall (Photo © Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

The Volvo Ocean Race launches a new young sailor award in a major sailing competition in the Gulf. It’s aimed at attracting a fresh generation of offshore sailors, following champions like Damien Foxall

– Omani and British under-30s win first rookies prizes

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, March 3 – The Volvo Ocean Race has launched a new award for young sailors in a major competition in the Gulf, aimed at attracting a fresh generation of sailors into offshore sailing to follow champions like Damien Foxall (pictured).

The Race has introduced the Volvo Ocean Race Rookie Award for the two best under-30 sailors competing in the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour (SATT), which was concluded over the weekend.

The event, contested over a 760-nautical mile (nm) course in the Gulf of Arabia, was first held in 2011 by Oman Sail. Since then, many top-level competitors in the event have been drawn from the ranks of past and present Volvo Ocean Race sailors, including the 2015 winners, Damian Foxall (IRL) and Sidney Gavignet (FRA).

It was the second year running Gavignet’s crew won.

The first victors of the Volvo Ocean Race Rookie Award were Team Renaissance Omani sailor, Ali Al Balushi, and the British sailor from the University of Plymouth team, Richard Mason.

Their prize is a trip to Newport, Rhode Island, to see the Volvo Ocean Race fleet after it completes the sixth leg of the current 12th edition from Itajaí, Brazil.

A panel of judges comprising George Catsiapis, CEO EFG Private Bank, Knut Frostad CEO, Volvo Ocean Race, and Gilles Chiorri, EFG SATT Race Director, picked out Al Balushi and Mason as the winners after they were nominated by their skippers in the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour (SATT).

“We are thrilled that SATT has attracted recognition from the Volvo Ocean Race as being a valuable feeder race for young offshore sailors and we look forward to working closely together to promote the sport of sailing among young local and regional audiences,” said David Graham, CEO of organisers, Oman Sail.

Frostad added: “We are delighted to launch this award since the Volvo Ocean Race works hard to promote the development of young offshore sailors and also fully supports the initiatives and programmes that are being launched by emerging nations in the sport of sailing.”

Overall winners of the SATT were EFG Bank, Monaco, led by Gavignet, who has competed in four Volvo Ocean Races.

A course change, from east to west, resulted in 14 days of testing upwind racing on the six-leg course from Oman to Bahrain.

The fleet included 11 pro-am race teams with crews from 21 different countries, including GAC powered by Dongfeng, with three ‘resting’ sailors from Dongfeng Race Team taking part: Cheng Ying Kit (English name ‘Kit’), Liu Ming (‘Leo’) and Kong Chencheng (‘Kong’). They finished eighth.