200 miles to go. After 9 months and nearly 40,000 miles
|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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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
– A resounding blow for women’s offshore sailing
– Team Vestas Wind bounce back for second place
– Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing nearing overall trophy win
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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
– 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Spanish boat MAPFRE, boosted by the return of their skipper Iker Martinez, claimed their first win of the Volvo Ocean Race in-port series on Saturday in front of thousands of spectators.
With Martinez at the helm, the red boat raced to the first mark with a narrow lead over Team Alvimedica (Turkey/US) and gradually stretched their advantage in a race completed in just under an hour.
The result leaves the Spanish crew still trailing the fleet in the overall standings on 31 points, but they have closed the gap considerably after a string of largely disappointing performances prior to Saturday.
Martinez, 37, was delighted to return to the winner’s circle having returned to lead the crew after missing the previous leg due to Olympic commitments.
The helmsman from San Sebastian won gold in the 2004 Athens Games and silver in Beijing 2008, but finished disappointingly down the field in the 2012 London Olympics.
He is determined to put that right in Rio de Janeiro next year, but his commitment to his preparation has led to his missing several legs in this edition of the nine-month Ocean Race which started last October.
“We are improving slowly and that’s the way we want to do these things,” said Martinez after the victory. “Today we were first and we’re feeling super good.”
Team Alvimedica, led by Newport local Charlie Enright, clung on to second place while Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing stole third position from the all-women crew of Team SCA, who made a damaging positioning error mid-race.
The result puts Abu Dhabi, led by Briton Ian Walker, back on top of the overall in-port race series standings on 19 points. The series will count towards a separate trophy and be used to split ties in the main offshore competition.
The six boats in the fleet will begin the seventh leg, a 2,800-nautical mile (4,815km) trip to Lisbon, Portugal, on Sunday at 1800GMT.
Abu Dhabi lead by six points from China’s Dongfeng Race Team, with three legs to complete in the nine-month, 38,739-nautical mile (71,745km) marathon.
The race concludes on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden, having visited 11 ports and every continent.
Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Newport results
Course: 3 laps.
Bearing to top gate: 230
Distance to top: 1.4nm, extended to 1.8nm on the 3rd lap.
Total distance sailed: 9.2nm
Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Newport Results:
1. MAPFRE 14:55:41 – 1pt
2. Team Alvimedica 14:56:39 – 2pts
3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 14:57:38 – 3pts
4. Team SCA 14:57:57 – 4pts
5. Team Brunel 14:58:17 – 5pts
6. Dongfeng Race Team 14:59:09 – 6pts
DNS. Team Vestas Wind – 8pts
In-Port series Overall standings:
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 19pts
2. Team Brunel – 20pts
3. Team SCA – 24pts
4. Dongfeng Race Team – 27pts
5. Team Alvimedica – 28pts
6. MAPFRE – 31pts
7. Team Vestas Wind – 52pts
Crew List for Team Vestas Wind Newport In-Port Race:
Dongfeng Race Team Charles Caudrelier FRA Kevin Escoffier FRA Thomas Rouxel FRA Martin Strömberg SWE Chen Jin Hao (Horace) CHN Pascal Bidegorry FRA Sidney Gavignet FRA Jiru Yang (Wolf) CHN Yann Riou FRA (OBR)
Team Alvimedica Charles Enright USA William Oxley AUS Alberto Bolzan ITA Mark Towill USA Sébastien Marsset FRA Nick Dana USA Ryan Houston NZL Dave Swete NZL Amory Ross USA (OBR)
MAPFRE Iker Martínez ESP Xabi Fernández ESP Jean-Luc Nélias FRA Rob Greenhalgh GBR André Fonseca BRA Antonio Cuervas-Mons ESP Carlos Hernández ESP Guillermo Altadill ESP Francisco Vignale ARG (OBR)
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Ian Walker GBR Simon Fisher GBR Daryl Wislang NZL Adil Khalid UAE Luke Parkinson AUS Justin Slattery IRL Roberto Bermúdez de Castro ESP Phil Harmer AUS Matt Knighton USA (OBR)
Team Brunel Bouwe Bekking NED Andrew Cape AUS Jens Dolmer DEN Pablo Arrarte ESP Louis Balcaen BEL Adam Minoprio NZL Rokas Milevicius LTU Timo Hagoort NED Stefan Coppers NED (OBR)
Team SCA Sam Davies GBR Carolijn Brouwer NED Dee Caffari GBR Abby Ehler GBR Annie Lush GBR Elodie-Jane Mettraux SUI Stacey Jackson AUS Libby Greenhalgh GBR Liz Wardley AUS Sally Barkow USA Sophie Ciszek AUS Anna-Lena Elled SWE (OBR)
Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) felt the familiar presence of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) to their stern on Wednesday as the thrilling Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race headed for a potential ‘photo finish’ in Newport, Rhode Island .
– Dongfeng and Azzam set to battle it out to the finish
ALICANTE, Spain, May 6 – Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) felt the familiar presence of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) to their stern on Wednesday as the thrilling Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race headed for a potential ‘photo finish’ in Newport, Rhode Island.
The Emirati boat, overall race leaders with seven points to spare from Dongfeng, have stuck to Caudrelier’s crew like glue for the last 24 hours.
The arch rivals were still just over 150 nautical miles (nm) from the finish of a 5,010nm stage from Itajaí, Brazil, at 0940 UTC on Wednesday after nearly 17 days of head-to-head racing since setting out on April 19.
Dongfeng Race Team held a narrow 6nm lead, but the final few hours before a probable Thursday morning finish could yet upset their hopes of a second stage victory following their Leg 3 triumph sailing to their home port of Sanya back in late January.
The boats are shortly exiting the Gulf Stream in good winds and will sail into reaching conditions of some 18 knots, the Race’s official meteorologist, Gonzalo Infante, reported on Wednesday.
They will then run into squally conditions, again with gusts of around 18 knots, before the westerly wind which is driving them turns north-east late afternoon/early evening UTC time.
Towards the end of the day, between 2100-2400 UTC, the boats will run into a relative brick wall in the form of a cold front for the last 30nm or so from Block Island onwards.
That could finally split the two – laterally at least – when they opt to go east or west and the decision could make or break either of them.
No wonder, then, that Infante is predicting: “We could be in for a photo finish.”
The three boats behind them – Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) and Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) (see panel above) – were still battling desperately to stay in touch in the hope that either of the front two could make an error in the final straight.
Meanwhile, at the back of the fleet, Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) lost significant ground in the last 24 hours with all hope of a first podium finish seemingly lost.
The mood on board Azzam is of high excitement. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing have already won two legs including the toughest of them all, Leg 5 through the Southern Ocean, and are hungry for another.
Their onboard reporter, Matt Knighton, summed up on Tuesday night: “Right now we need to pull out all the secrets we’ve got. In the breezy downwind conditions of the darkness, they’ve (Dongfeng) managed to sail lower and faster towards the mark and extended to 3nm ahead.
“We’ve found at least 10 rabbits in this magic hat of ours this leg – we just need to find one more.”
The boats will spend 10 days in Newport, hosting the race for the first time, before heading back across the Atlantic to Lisbon in Leg 7 on May 17.
.– 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
* 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.
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
A monster of a leg’ ends in glory
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) buried the miserable memories of three years ago to win an epic Southern Ocean/south Atlantic crossing in Leg 5 and claim their second stage victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15
Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard here
– Walker celebrates epic Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing win
– Emirati boat moves seven points clear at top
– MAPFRE, Team Alvimedica and Team Brunel chase them home
– Team SCA rocked by another setback as rudder breaks
ITAJAÍ, Brazil, April 5 – Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) buried the miserable memories of three years ago to win an epic Southern Ocean/south Atlantic crossing in Leg 5 and claim their second stage victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.
In 2012, Walker’s crew were forced to return to Auckland with hull damage and eventually retired from the leg to Itajaí, Brazil.
They must have feared more of the same when Cyclone Pam delayed the departure from New Zealand for three days, but despite taking the worst that the Southern Ocean and then the south Atlantic could throw at them, the Emirati team emerged triumphant after nearly 19 days of ultra-challenging, super-tight sailing.
Amazingly, skipper Ian Walker reported that they had reached Itajaí with the least amount of work for their shore crew to do of any leg so far in this edition.
To add the icing to their cake, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing set the new best mark in the chase for IWC prize for the most nautical miles (nm) sailed in 24 hours with 551nm leading up to Cape Horn.
“Awesome. It’s been such a monster of a leg, we were so, so stoked with the 24-hour record,” said a jubilant Walker, 45, straight after crossing the line in front of a waterfront packed by thousands of spectators.
“That (IWC record) was actually what got us back up with the leaders. Since then we have sailed very, very well. It’s a very tight finish.”
He credited his team’s versatility for much of their success (elapsed time for Leg 5: 18 days 23 hours 30 minutes 10 seconds).
“Seven out of eight of our guys drive, so nobody has to drive for too long. We rotate everybody and I can’t speak highly enough of everybody in our team.”
He added that he dropped the keel on two occasions in the heaviest of the weather with 50-knot winds (92.6 kilometres an hour) buffeting the fleet, losing some ground, but keeping his boat intact.
“In hindsight, that looks a pretty shrewd decision,” Walker said.
The stage victory leaves Walker’s team seven points clear at the top of the standings with five of the nine legs now completed.
That gap was opened up following the misfortune of a broken mast, which struck Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) early last Monday and led to their retirement from the leg two days later.
The Chinese boat is now being sailed, partly under motor, to Itajaí where its shore crew face a race against time to have the new mast refitted in time for the start of the next leg to Newport, Rhode Island, on April 19.
They will pick up eight points (low points wins) after failing to finish the stage and now stand on 16, still in second place, but only two ahead of MAPFRE and Team Brunel. Team Alvimedica are one further behind with Team SCA expected to finish on 29.
Walker, in his third race, is far too experienced to take anything for granted yet, however, despite becoming the first team to clinch their second stage win of the 2014-15 edition.
The leg was incredibly closely fought throughout its 6,776nm with MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) chasing Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing all the way to Itajaí and finishing in that order.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing beat the Spanish team by a little over 32 minutes with less than an hour separating the leading four (see panel above).
As usual, Walker barely enjoyed a wink of sleep over the final 48 hours with his pursuers no more than 2-10nm behind him all that time.
Apart from the closeness of the racing – virtually unprecedented in the 41-year history of the race – the leg will be remembered for living up to its reputation as the most fearsome in the nine-month offshore marathon.
Along from Dongfeng’s broken mast, there were at least three cases of Chinese gybes when the boats crashed to their sides before righting, and there were numerous cases of other sail and equipment breakages.
Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) had more than their share of problems, damaging three sails and then suffering a port rudder breakage on Sunday. They are expected to finish the leg on Tuesday.
In all, the fleet will cover 38,739nm and visit 11 ports and every continent. The race concludes in Gothenburg, Sweden, on June 27.
Leg 5 finishing times
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 18 days 23 hours 30 minutes 10 seconds
2. MAFPRE – 19d 00h 02min 56s
3. Team Alvimedica – 19d 00h 24min 32s
4. Team Brunel – 19d 00h 25min 48s
“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.
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.
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