Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

The local heroes on Xabi Fernàndez’s MAPFRE were a popular winner in the first point scoring race of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The local heroes on Xabi Fernández’s MAPFRE were a popular winner in the first point scoring race of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Fernández and his team made a bold call at the start to duck behind the entire fleet in order to sail up what turned out to be the favoured right hand side of the course, coming from behind to earn a narrow lead at the first gate.

“It was pretty clear from Joan (Vila) and Rob (Greenhalgh) that we wanted to hit the right side of the course in the first upwind looking for more breeze,” explained Fernández.

“Our intention was to start on port but Pablo (Arrarte) saw the gap himself when Brunel did a poor tack and they couldn’t accelerate so we want for the cross and we had plenty of room and once we hit the right everything went well.”

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

MAPFRE then managed to stretch out to a lead of nearly one-minute at the bottom gate, giving them a lead they would enjoy the rest of the way.

“The truth is it hasn’t been an easy race but we took a bit of a risk at the start,” Fernández said after the finish. “We saw the gap in front of Brunel and we went for it. Everything went really well.”

Watch the highlight video here

In fact, the Spanish team sailed a flawless race, in terms of strategy and execution, and were never threatened after grabbing the lead at the first mark.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

But behind them, it was a hard-fought race. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag was strong on the first leg, but dropped back over the course of the race. In contrast, Dongfeng Race Team fought up the fleet to grab second place, battling with Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Team Brunel who were trading places throughout the race.

“There was a lot of action! MAPFRE played their own game alone but behind them, we had a big fight for second place. It’s good, it’s good,” said skipper Charles Caudrelier on Dongfeng Race Team.

“We showed how we can sail well, after having not such good results in the last few days. It’s great that we managed to come back and get this result.”

“It was a very exciting first In-Port Race for us,” said Charlie Enright, the skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing. “They’re always really close. You know, when you’re racing these 65-foot canting keel boats around a one-mile track it gets interesting, with a lot of exchanges and big headsails and a lot of grinding. We did some good things and some bad things and got third place. All in all, not a bad way to start the campaign.”

“I had a bad start and that put us on the back foot,” said Bouwe Bekking the skipper of Team Brunel. “But we sailed the boat very nicely. All in all, we’re pretty happy with how we sailed today.”

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race.

Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag made a late gain to grab fifth over team AkzoNobel with Turn the Tide on Plastic never recovering from a poor first leg.

“It was okay. Fifth’s not great but it was okay. We were second at the top but we just made one mistake on the first run and it cost us. Basically, it was good. Amazing to be racing here in Alicante,” said David Witt, the skipper of Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag.

MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante — Results

Position Team Elapsed Time Points
1 MAPFRE 54:38 7
2 Dongfeng Race Team 56:06 6
3 Vestas 11th Hour Racing 56:54 5
4 Team Brunel 57:13 4
5 Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 58:07 3
6 team AkzoNobel 58:31 2
7 Turn the Tide on Plastic 59:39 1
Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

February 15, 2015. Leg 4 to Auckland onboard Team Brunel. Day 7. A huge wave crashes over the deck (Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race)

February 15, 2015. Leg 4 to Auckland onboard Team Brunel. Day 7. A huge wave crashes over the deck (Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 4
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

TBRU
TBRU 0 0 3188.3 14
ADOR
ADOR 64.9 13 3253.1 16
MAPF
MAPF 74.4 11 3262.7 16
DFRT
DFRT 79.9 11 3268.2 16
ALVI
ALVI 82 12 3270.3 16
SCA1
SCA1 107.8 9 3296.1 14
VEST
VEST Did Not Start

–  Communications antennae malfunction hampers Spanish boat

– Team Brunel cashing in on bold decision to sail north

 

SANYA, CHINA - FEBRUARY 13:  In this handout image provided by the Volvo Ocean Race onboard MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez holding the new base for the outrigger during Leg 4 from Sanya to Auckland on February 08, 2015 in Sanya, China. The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 is the 12th running of this ocean marathon. Starting from Alicante in Spain on October 04, 2014, the route, spanning some 39,379 nautical miles, visits 11 ports in eleven countries (Spain, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, China, New Zealand, Brazil, United States, Portugal, France, The Netherlands and Sweden) over nine months. The Volvo Ocean Race is the world's premier ocean yacht race for professional racing crews. (Photo by Francisco Vignale/MAPFRE/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images)

SANYA, CHINA – FEBRUARY 13: In this handout image provided by the Volvo Ocean Race onboard MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez holding the new base for the outrigger during Leg 4 from Sanya to Auckland on February 08, 2015 in Sanya, China. The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 is the 12th running of this ocean marathon. Starting from Alicante in Spain on October 04, 2014, the route, spanning some 39,379 nautical miles, visits 11 ports in eleven countries (Spain, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, China, New Zealand, Brazil, United States, Portugal, France, The Netherlands and Sweden) over nine months. The Volvo Ocean Race is the world’s premier ocean yacht race for professional racing crews. (Photo by Francisco Vignale/MAPFRE/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images)

ALICANTE, Spain, February 16 – Spanish boat MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) were ‘sailing blind’ in Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Monday after a problem with communications antennae on board prevented them from receiving key weather and other data.

Race Control was alerted to the problem over the weekend and has since worked with their suppliers and the boat to find a solution.

Gonzalo Infante, who runs the Race’s high-tech communications control room with the six-strong fleet, said on Monday it was not clear exactly what had caused the issue, which involves two antennae not functioning. Communications with the other five boats are working as normal.

“We can still send and receive plain text but cannot send detailed weather data. This has impacted on their ability to make strategic decisions – they are sailing blind,” he said.

Infante added that the Race was working with its suppliers of communications hardware and software on the boat to find a diagnosis and fix.

In a message from the boat, MAPFRE’s Onboard Reporter, Francisco Vignale (ARG), wrote: “We only have email which works. Jean Luc (Nélias-FRA), our navigator, is very limited in his work and can not forecast or work out future routes.”

Additionally, the crew is unable to send out images or videos, which have kept their many fans up to date with progress so far in the race.

Vignale added: “The main thing is that we’d like to say that we are all well, despite not being able to talk with our families. Each one of us wants to send a big ‘hi’ to our nearest and dearest.

“We hope to solve this problem as quickly as possible – there’s still a long way to go in this leg.”

Despite their challenges, MAPFRE were very much in the thick of the battle to finish first in Auckland after the 5,264-nautical mile (nm) stage from Sanya.

At 1240 UTC on Monday, they were in third place some 74.4nm behind Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), who were cashing in on their decision to sail north of the rest of the fleet early in the leg. The stronger winds and better angles towards Auckland that decision gave them, has propelled the Dutch boat 64.9nm clear of the main pack led by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR).

Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) are tight behind fourth-placed Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), the overall race leaders, with Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) still sailing north of the rest of the fleet and biding their time before making their own decision to bear south.

 

February 15, 2015. Leg 4 to Auckland onboard Team Alvimedica. Day 7. Choppy and rough trade-wind sailing in the Philippine Sea for Ryan Houston (R, at helm) and Nick Dana (L, trimming the main). (Photo ©Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race)

February 15, 2015. Leg 4 to Auckland onboard Team Alvimedica. Day 7. Choppy and rough trade-wind sailing in the Philippine Sea for Ryan Houston (R, at helm) and Nick Dana (L, trimming the main). (Photo ©Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race)