08/02/2015, Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Onboard One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton with Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa, Clothing equipment for the Southern ocean ( Photo ©  Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa)

08/02/2015, Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Onboard One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton with Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa, Clothing equipment for the Southern ocean ( Photo © Aleix Gelabert and Didac Costa)

  • Ice Monitoring for the race plays a unique role in research
  • Round the World Races commision 90 per cent of ice tracking research
  • Neutrogena pit stopped

The Barcelona World Race and the competing skippers are playing an important role in one aspect of the monitoring of climate change.
Ice is now seen more frequently and more accurately when it breaks away from the Antarctic ice cap and as it drifts into the areas which have been the traditional southern oceans routes for round the world races.

As a consequence it is vital for the absolute safety of the crews that the positions and movement of ice is tracked and the racing area restricted to avoid danger to the crews.

In fact this comprehensive, accurate level of tracking is done almost exclusively for the Barcelona World Race – and other round the world races – but over time this level of tracking will deliver a direct benefit to scientific research.
Proof of climate change is hard to measure, but even in the Furious 50s and Roaring 40s latitudes Barcelona World Race duos have recently been experiencing warm, sunny interludes.

We are enjoying our summer holiday in the Southern Ocean” quipped Spirit of Hungary’s Conrad Colman a couple of days ago, basking in sunshine and temperatures akin to summer in northern Europe.
At 50 degrees south today Anna Corbella on GAES Centros Auditivos today reflected on a sunny, almost warm respite from the usual cold weather. Renault Captur’s Jorg Riechers and Sébastien Audigane were sailing in short and t-shirts in the Roaring 40s a few days ago.

Such intermissions become part of anecdotal evidence but it is the round the world race’s safety requirement for in-depth study of iceberg detection and the circulation and drift patterns that will help scientists understand the evolution of climate change.

Ice Day in BCN
It was Ice Day at the Barcelona World Race HQ today. In the media studio were Franck Mercier (FRA) of CLS, the organisation which is charged with the actual ice tracking, and Marcel van Triest (NED) who coordinates the safety zone in collaboration with Race Direction. He serves as the race meteorolgist.

Van Triest explained: “Now we know there are large pieces of ice floating in the ocean as it warms up and Antarctic ice is melting and breaking”.
The most immediate recent example are the icebergs which are near the Crozet Islands, quite north of usual expectations. A few days ago One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton were sailing within 70 miles of three or four big icebergs. They were alerted to the exact positions by Race Direction. Aleix Gelabert recalled:

“We had a warning last night from race management about this situation, that there may be a possible growlers in our route and so we changed our course a little bit just in case. There is no need to put ourselves at any additional risk. We are in contact with race management and are very confident about this. There is no problem.”

This race has opted for an exclusion zone rather than ice gates. Speaking today he highlighted how difficult it can be to avoid ice van Triest said:

” If you sail at 10 m/s speed and see an iceberg 200 m away from you, you have only 20 seconds to maneuver, that’s nothing. That’s why we have an exclusion zone, a prohibited zone. It’s better than ice gates. In my first round the world race there were no ice limits, we went down to latitudes 60ºS and 61ºS. Today the technology to detect the ice exists, so we control it, we just can’t send people down there knowing what we know. ”
” With the exclusion zone it gives more control and security. We can go closer to where we know there is ice, like we have done with the icebergs which were at the north of Crozet islands. And the limit can be set more to the South than with the ice gates. Down there there is of course more wind and the route is shorter.”

It may seem remarkable that ocean races like the Barcelona World Race are almost alone in pushing forwards the study of floating ice detection and its tracking.
Van Triest highlights:
“Ocean racing commissions do 90% of ice detection work. And this work has really only been going on for 15 years.”

Franck Mercier of CLS: ” Because of this, round-the-world races like BWR help to work on understanding the climatic change. It’s very expensive to study the ice detection, nobody does it except round-the-world races because it’s very expensive, although it’s very interesting for the understanding of climate change. ”

Also as part of the Barcelona World Race’s drive to propagate scientific understanding, the Argo beacons which were launched recently are already providing interesting information. The one which Neutrogena launched is at 44 deg S and shows a surface sea temperature of 12 Deg. Cheminées Poujoulat’s is at 43 Deg South showing a sea temp of 17 Deg.

Meantime, asked if this is a year of moderate conditions in the Big South for the fleet, both Van Triest and Mercier chorused:
“….for the moment….”

In the Dock, In The Race
In Bluff by Invercargill, South Island New Zealand, repairs to Neutrogena’s failed charging system are reported to be on schedule. Skippers Guillermo Altadill and José Munoz are described as having a good night’s sleep in readiness for their departure which the team believe will be at 0522hrs UTC Saturday morning as per the mandatory minimum 24 hours duration.
Race leaders Cheminées Poujoulat were taking some brief respite in lighter airs today and expect more of the same tomorrow. Jean Le Cam and Bernard Stamm are now nearly 800 miles ahead of the pit-stopped Neutrogena. In turn GAES Centros Auditivos have reduced their deficit to Neutrogena from 1100 miles to 657 miles.

Skippers’ quotes:
Anna Corbella (ESP) GAES Centros Auditivos: ” We are pushing as hard as we can. It is not easy to push harder. But if we have any opportunity to catch Neutrogena then we take it.  
At the moment we feel safe. We did not see any ice. I hope it will continue like this. I think it is safe. I feel confident with the people in the people working on it and I think it is working. I don’t know which system I would prefer, I dont know whether ice gates or the exclusion zone is better. For the moment the exclusion zone for us is not very good. We had some problems in the Indian Ocean because of it. I dont know which I prefer.”

Jean Le Cam, FRA, Cheminées Poujoulat:“The atmosphere on board has changed a bit. After a week when it was hard to do anything less than 19kts average it is quieter again and we are under spinnaker. It is not really that nice but at least the boat is going forwards and it is not slamming. You can drink a coffee quietly and rest. We will make the big general check of the boat tomorrow. It is good.

Stop for Neutrogena
We go as fast and best we can. We are in the rhythym and try not to break it. We route by our weather options and so nothing changes for us. Yes we are comfortable now, that is clear. And it is good. But you still have to stay on it all the time, because no one is immune to a technical problem. Tomorrow we will take full advantage of a little time to make a general check of everything. Neutrogena will get going and it is true we will have a little advance, you can say we are comfortably off. But, hey, we are not immune to shit happening.”

Friday the 13th superstition?
“Yes, pfff, no … On Friday 13 you can take it both ways. So I will take it in the right way. Friday the 13th is called a lucky day. It always reminds me of the boat Yvon Fauconnier, Friday 13. Come on, let’s say it’s a lucky day! »

Antimériden
“For me, it’s a real border. The numbers are decreasing now and that means we are closer. You see, I’m at 173 ° 29 West, and the numbers decrease more, so the closer you get. It is a sign of reconciliation and not a sign of remoteness. It is in the phase of the course when you really start to feel you are going towards the finish.»
Standings Friday 13th February 1400hrs UTC
1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B. Stamm – J. Le Cam) at 10.756,7 miles to finish
2 Neutrogena (G. Altadill – J. Muñoz) + 796,0 miles to leader
3 GAES Centros Auditivos (A. Corbella – G. Marín) + 1.453,9 miles to leader
4 Renault Captur (J. Riechers – S. Audigane) + 1.729,9 miles to leader
5 We Are Water (B. Garcia – W. Garcia) + 2.605,0 miles to leader
6 One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton (A. Gelabert – D. Costa) + 3.503,3 millas del líde
7 Spirit of Hungary (N. Fa – C. Colman) + 4.176,9 miles to leader
ABD Hugo Boss (A. Thomson – P. Ribes)

Bernard Stamm (SUI) and Cheminées Poujopulat (Photo  copyright Cheminées Poujopulat / Barcelona World Race)

Bernard Stamm (SUI) and Cheminées Poujopulat (Photo copyright Cheminées Poujopulat / Barcelona World Race)

 

  • Kerguelens tomorrow for Cheminees Poujoulat
  • We Are Water break Cape of Good Hope
  • GAES Centros Auditivos stem their losses

Another landmark will be ticked off tomorrow for Barcelona World Race leaders Cheminées Poujoulat when they sail north of the lonely Kerguelen Islands.
Coralled north by the race’s Antarctic Exclusion Zone, Bernard Stamm and Jean La Cam will pass 300 miles north of the island archipelago which are in every sense one of the most isolated, lonely spots on planet earth, over 2000 miles from the nearest significantly populated area.

The Kerguelen or Desolation Islands were discoveed 240 years ago by the Breton navigator Yves-Joseph de Kerguelen Trémerec and claimed as French.  There are hundreds of small islands but the only inhabitants are between 45 and 100 French scientists, researchers and engineers stationed there.

As such they are important point on the race course, almost exactly half way from the Cape Good Hope to Australia’s Cape Leeuwin, 2300 miles from the South African cape, 2100 to Leeuwin. They are in effect equidistant from somewhere but quite literally in the middle of nowhere.
They are also the only possible haven for the race fleets when they are crossing this inhospitable stretch of the Indian Ocean. Indeed, just as Jean LeCam was pleased to have passed the Cape Verde islands where his Barcelona World Race ended prematurely, so co-skipper Stamm will subconsciously be pleased to check off the Kerguelens, passing at good speeds with their IMOCA 60 in good shape and with a lead of more than 270 miles. Stamm lost a previous Cheminées Poujoulat when it was grounded in December 2008 during the solo Vendèe Globe. Ironically fellow Swiss skipper Dominique Wavre was also stopped there with a keel problem.

Stamm was not making his memories obv ious indeed he was on good form today when he summed up the Barcelona World Race so far for himself and co-skipper Jean Le Cam.

” A lot has gone on. But all in all the boat performs well , it goes well. Now we had some small technical problems that don’y exactly make our lives easier even now, but nothing is insurmountable. Apart from a passage a little close to the Azores high where we got light winds  we have sailed the course we wanted.”

Cheminées Poujoulat is now lined up 275 miles directly in front of second placed Neutrogena, benefiting from more wind which is more consistent than that of the pursuing duo Guillermo Altadill and José Munoz.
The biggest problem on the horizon for the two leading IMOCA 60s is the former tropical cyclone Diamondra which was more of a threat but which looks to be dissipating now after winds peaking at around 55kts. These storms lose their energy quickly when they pass over the colder water. Nonetheless it remains a concern for Cheminées Poujoulat and for Neutrogena and will certainly alter their relatively straightforwards regime in about three days time.
Their passage of the Cape of Good Hope this morning at 1106hrs UTC is the first Great Cape for the Garcia brothers Bruno and Willy on We Are Water. Considering how little preparation time they had prior to the start, and how both were carrying on their day jobs, Bruno as a heart doctor and Willy as a jewellery retailer until days before the start, their success to date is commendable. Indeed of the fleet they are the first genuine ‘amateurs’  in this race, sailors who make their li ving from outside of the sport.

Anna Corbella and Gérard Marin have meantime stemmed some of their worst losses on GAES Centros Auditivos and have been making double digit boat speeds for much of the day after being badly stuck in a high pressure system, although the light winds are moving east with them. In fact their nearest pursuers, fourth placed Renault Captur are now 416 miles behind when two days ago they were 602 miles astern, but the Spanish duo are now quicker again than Renault Captur’sJorg Riechers and Seb Audigane.

Skippers quotes:

Anna Corbella (ESP) GAES Centros Auditivos:” In fact at the moment we are looking backwards because the meteo we have just now is dangerous for us because the boats in front are gone and the boats in the back are catching us, so at the moment we are looking back. It is our concern. I think after this high pressure we will look forwards again and try to catch some miles again on Neutrogena.
Right now we are going out and have 14kts of wind, downwind sailing now and sailing faster – at 12 kts – in the coming hours we will probably stop again and the wind will got to the front and we are going to have another problem with the high pressure. For the moment the night was not so bad we were sailing slowly but we it was not so bad.
From my side, I don’t know what Gerard thinks, it’s a different race from last time. I don’t know if it is harder. Maybe harder is not the word… but it is a little bit more  intense because since the first days we’ve been sailing with the head of the fleet and we’ve had more pressure and we’ve had to sail as fast as possible. And this makes the race more demanding but not harder. For the moment the weather is the same (as the last edition) and we are doing pretty much the same.
To us, particularly in our case, it is hurting us (the exclusion zone) because it really gives us absolutely no choice. With the ice gates we could have gone up and down a bit, and now all we do is go straight along the line of the exclusion zone. I think for other boats it will be different, I guess in every way it is better or worst. That’s it. I guess it depends on the case.

Bernard Stamm (SUI) Cheminées Poujopulat: “From the beginning we have been O K, we passed a little close to the high and had light winds but since then we have been able to do what we want with no problems, and we were doing everything we can to go as fast as we can, safely as possible. It has been a good first month.”

A month of racing , what conclusions do you draw ?
A lot has gone on. But all in all the boat performs well , it goes well. Now we had some small technical problems that did not make our lives easier even now, but nothing is surmountable . Apart from a passage a little close to the Azores high  we have sailed the course we wanted.
The gaps widen
It is more obvious now that GAES are caught by the anticyclone. With Neutrogena , maybe it will be a bit of concertina effect, I do not know. We make our way according to the the wind not really compared to other competitors.

Things are different from solo?
This is much more serene, sleeping much better. It is good proper slee. Frequently you sleep for three or four hours. Very rarely , much more. Evenother things it is much better . The maneuvers are two , the stacking is with two , it is much simpler.

Life with Jean
Normally , there is no problem. It’s always easier said before , we are not sphinxes , but for many reasons  it has to work. The bottom line is it work for many reasons . Jean said before  said that the biggest concern was the ego. If it was one of us that had this ego problem , but this is not the case, we are tools to make the boat go, so it ‘s going pretty well.

Course to Cape Leeuwin
In front of us on the east coast of Australia , there are two small tropical lows that will come down to us. And our course and strategy will be dicated by how we deal with them. We will have some bad weather, you just have to not push too hard and try and sail in the best, most normal conditions.

The gaps widen
It is more obvious now that GAES are caught by the anticyclone. With Neutrogena , maybe it will be a bit of concertina effect, I do not know. We make our way according to the the wind not really compared to other competitors .

Things are different from solo?
This is much more serene, sleeping much better. It is good proper slee. Frequently you sleep for three or four hours. Very rarely , much more. Evenother things it is much better . The maneuvers are two , the stacking is with two , it is much simpler.

Rankings at 1400hrs UTC Friday 30th January 2015
1. Cheminées Poujoulat (B. Stamm – J. Le Cam) at 15.736,5 miles to the finish
2. Neutrogena (G. Altadill – J. Muñoz) + 272,9 miles to the leader
3. GAES Centros Auditivos (A. Corbella – G. Marín) + 889,8 miles to the leader
4. Renault Captur (J. Riechers – S. Audigane) + 1.305,2 miles to the leader
5. We Are Water (B. Garcia – W. Garcia) + 1.889,4 miles to the leader
6. One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton (A. Gelabert – D. Costa) + 2.444,7 miles to the leader
7. Spirit of Hungary (N. Fa – C. Colman) + 2.955,8 miles to the leader
ABD Hugo Boss (A. Thomson – P. Ribes)

23/12/2014, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Barcelona Trainings, We Are Water (Bruno Garcia, Willy Garcia)(Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget/Barcelona World Race)

23/12/2014, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Barcelona Trainings, We Are Water (Bruno Garcia, Willy Garcia)(Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget/Barcelona World Race)

 

Barcelona World Race 2014/2015 Start (Photo © Nico Martínez / Barcelona World Race )

Barcelona World Race 2014/2015 Start (Photo © Nico Martínez / Barcelona World Race )

 

As if to underline their billing as pre-race favourites to win, Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes on Hugo Boss led the eight-strong fleet of IMOCA 60s off the start line of the third edition of the Barcelona World Race, two handed race around the world. The British-Spanish duo made the best of the very light winds, setting up with speed at the gun, to eke out a small lead to the turning mark, 1.5 miles away from the line.

NEWS  DEC 31, 2015

With 23,450 miles to sail, of course the early advantage to the British-Spanish duo might only appear to be psychological and within the first hour of racing they found themselves snared by the combination of very calm winds and wash from the sizeable spectator fleet, and were passed by the Swiss-French pairing Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam on Cheminées Poujoulat, but the main objective for all was to ensure they stay in the lead group on what will be a tricky, challenging descent of the Mediterranean to the exit doors at the Straits of Gibraltar.

As per forecast breezes were only very light for the start, 2-6 knots. But the sun shone brightly and brought out huge crowds to the beaches of the Catalan capital. To all intents it felt less like the last day of 2014 in the depths of winter, and more like a day stolen from summer.

The warmth of the sunshine leant an almost surreal air to the emotional scenes as the 16 skippers left the Barcelona World Race dock this morning. They may be heading for some of the most feared stretches of the world’s oceans, but there was a welcome serenity as the crowds bid farewell to each of the duos. To those observers and skippers more used to the oppressive atmosphere of other winter race starts, usually contemplating Atlantic storms, it was a pleasant change.

But for all that, emotions bubbled to the surface, tugging hard at the heartstrings. Who could fail to be moved when Alex Thomson and his four-year-old son Oscar shouted ‘Good bye’ to each other across the widening gap between the pontoon and the departing 60-foot monohull? In their private world it was a beautiful toddler waving his dad off to a day at the office – even if Thomson blinked back a tear behind the Hugo Boss designer shades – but to everyone else it was a harsh reminder of the imminent three months of separation from the son whose illness precluded his participation in the last edition.

Hugo Boss team-mate Pepe Ribes’ farewell to Pepe Ribes Jr was no less touching, considering the last time he left on this race his son was only three weeks old. This time GAES Centros Auditivos’Gérard Marin’s son is only a few months old.

The biggest cheer of the morning was for Anna Corbella, the only female skipper in the race who became the first Spanish woman to sail around the world when she finished the second edition of the race in April 2011 with Briton Dee Caffari. Corbella and Gérard Marin, both local to Barcelona, have been training for two years with their GAES Centros Auditivos and harbour high hopes of a podium finish.

Their partisan fan club were, predictably, the loudest. Corbella’s smile wavered as if to crack but as the docklines came aboard, her game face was fixed and she was immediately in ‘race mode’.
When the gun sounded at 1300hrs local time (1200hrs UTC) GAES Centros Auditivos looked to have made the best start along with Hugo Boss and Renault Captur (Jorge Riechers and Sébastien Audigane), but both GAES Centros Auditivos and One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton (Aleix Gelabeirtand Didac Costa) jumped the gun and had to restart.

As well as media, family, friends and team-mates, the dock was dotted with key figures of the race including twice winner Jean-Pierre Dick, who saw off the eight boats, and Race Director Jacques Caraës, who helped many teams slip their lines. FNOB president Maite Fandos, the depute mayor of Barcelona; IMOCA President Jean Kehroas; Peter Bayer, General Manager of Open Sports Management, and the President of the Spanish Sailing Federation José Ángel Rodríguez, all joined the farewell.

Meanwhile the city of Barcelona delivered a ‘tapas menu’ of live performance featuring wind instruments, spraying water, seashells, and performance artists by the Fura dels Baus as a fitting show as the Mayor of Barcelona Xavier Trias lowered a flag on the La Dona of Mil·leni sculpture to signify the start of the race.

Winds might only have been light at the start but the skippers know the pressure is absolutely on from the start. The race start sat between two wind zones. To the east the brisk NE’ly Tramontana is a strong lure, to sail more miles to reach this corridor of breeze does represent the high risk option but with potentially the biggest reward. A fast passage to the Balearics would allow the leader(s) to hold on to this wind longest. Conversely, this breeze will fade first, potentially leaving any gamblers on this flank downwind in very gentle winds. The alternative is to sail the direct, rhumb line – or to the west of it – and wait until the NE’ly has strengthened all the way to the Spanish coast.

The overall balance between the options remained unclear. For sure there is a ‘rich get richer’ scenario for anyone who breaks through the Strait of Gibraltar first, breaching the brisk, favourable trade winds first for quick train ride south. But the greater likelihood is of a period of very light winds in the busy gateway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Follow the race:
See the Barcelona World Race Leaderboard, Tracking, Weather Guide, TV schedule and much more athttp://www.barcelonaworldrace.org/en/race-live. Tracker positions are updated at 0500, 0900, 1400 and 1900hrs (UTC).  http://barcelonaworldrace.geovoile.org/2015/

Ranking at 14:00 UTC December 31, 2014:

1 Cheminées Poujoulat (B Stamm – J Le Cam) 23 448.3 miles from the finish

2 GAES Centros Auditivos (A Corbella – G Marino) 0.3 miles to leader

3 Renault Captur (J Riechers – S Audigane) 0.6 miles to leader

4 Hugo Boss (A Thomson – Ribes P) 0.7 miles to leader

5 Neutrogena (G Altadill – Muñoz J) 1.2 miles to leader

6 We Are Water (B Garcia – Garcia W) 1.2 miles to leader

7 One Planet One Ocean & Pharmaton (A Gelabert – Costa D) 1.2 miles to leader

8 Spirit of Hungary (N F – C Colman) 1.3 miles to leader

 

Skippers’ quotes:

Guillermo Altadill (ESP), Neutrogena:

“The last GRIB files are showing a little bit variable conditions that are quite tricky. It’s going to be quite open to the Straits – you could go inshore, offshore, so I think it’s going to be quite tricky and very open for all the fleet. We hope to be at Gibraltar ahead, but it’s not very relevant in one race that’s 25000 miles to be ahead 10 miles at Gibraltar, it makes you feel better but it’s not very important.

“You make your own pressure, but it’s going to be pressure for everybody because everybody is going to push the boat and be the first one out to Gibraltar, but for us it’s about holding onto the fleet and to be with the fleet the first part of the race.”

“I’ve probably [raced to Gibraltar] 20 or 25 times. The Med is very unpredictable, so the more you know and the more you race here… you get more confused!”

Nandor Far (HUN), Spirit of Hungary:

“I’m quite relaxed. We did our best to be finished, to be 100 per cent prepared, but you never know. The boat is a very complicated piece so there is always something which is going wrong. Right now I feel the boat is well prepared.

“We are concentrating on the wind and the proper sail choice, and going out in a safe good way, that’s all. It will be nice to have time to think about everything. If we want to be in a good place we have to make good progress, but I’m not worried really.”

Anna Corbella (ESP), GAES Centros Auditivos:

“I’m feeling excited and happy. I want to get going! The weather is OK, it’s nice. It’s easy – in terms of physically, so it’s not going to be a lot of sail changes, I think it’s nice downwind to Gibraltar. Probably at some point it’s not [going to be] easy, but I think what is important is to be at Gibraltar in a good position, and to go out in a good position.”

Alex Thomson (GBR), Hugo Boss:

“I think the first 5-6 hours there probably won’t be very much wind, and then after that we should see some breeze, some fairly good breeze hopefully. Then the breeze will run out, but whether we get to Gibraltar or not I don’t know.

“I think for all of us the routing shows that the people at the front will gain and the people at the back will lose – so all the pressure is to be at the front of the pack and not to not lose too much is important. We feel fortunate that we’ve got a boat that can probably catch everybody up if we need to catch everybody up, but we don’t really want to be in that position really!

“As a team we feel very confident. We’ve put in a lot of work and a lot of prep. These last moments are always a bit heartfelt because of the family and leaving them behind for three months. I think it’s not something you would want to get used to, because if you got used to it then it would maybe mean you don’t care as much as you do.”

 

Barcelona Word Race 2014/2015PRESS CONFERENCE SKIPPERS (Photo by Martinez Studio )

Barcelona Word Race 2014/2015PRESS CONFERENCE SKIPPERS (Photo by Martinez Studio )

 

The 16 skippers, eight duos, who are set to take on the 2014-2015 Barcelona World Race gathered to face the media at today’s busy official press conference, the last official gathering of all the teams before the race start on 31st December, now less than 48 hours away.

The conference was opened by Jean Kerhoas, IMOCA Class President, who introduced the UNESCO marine research and education programmes which are essential to this edition of the race, innovating by integrating the round the world competition with an ambitious scientific research programme and a global, openly available further education programme.

He was followed by Race Director Jacques Caräes who explained the starting procedure, which will see the eight IMOCA 60s start at 1300hrs, heading north-easterly along the Barcelona beachfront, before rounding the North Buoy turning mark and heading for Gibraltar and the Atlantic.

But all attention was focused on the 16 sailors gathered on stage. As ever body language and attitude spoke louder and more comprehensively than the words they uttered. Some, like veteran Jean Le Cam (Cheminees Poujoulat), appearing like it was just another work day at the office, relaxed and enjoying the build-up to his second Barcelona World Race. When asked about his final preparations, Le Cam joked that he was going to be mostly eating for the next two days. Guillermo Altadill (Neutrogena), approaching his seventh global circumnavigation, also played to the gallery:

“I live in a small village 90 kilometers from Barcelona. And I realised that I had left the lights on.. So my plan for the next two days, will be to go back tomorrow and put them out!” But for all his humour, fiery Catalan Altadill knows he has been given a gilt edged chance of winning the race which starts and finishes on the waters where he first learned to sail, an opportunity of a victory which would rank him as the first Spaniard to win a major IMOCA race, the same as it would be for Pepe Ribes who grew up in Benissa beside Calpe, 75 kilometres down the race track. 

Fireworks go off in the city of Lisbon, as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, finish first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by Paul Todd/ Volvo Ocean Race)

Fireworks go off in the city of Lisbon, as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, finish first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by Paul Todd/ Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi shrugged off seven months of frustration to seal their first offshore victory in a nerve-jarring transatlantic leg from Miami to Lisbon, while Groupama’s second place finish — five and a half minutes behind after more than 3,500 nautical miles racing — was enough to take them top of the leaderboard in place of long-term leaders Telefonica.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Credit: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Groupama spent days snapping at the heels of the Emirati team and were within a mile of their rivals as they headed up the River Tagus towards the finish line.

Ian Walker’s team defended resolutely, however, matching their rivals gybe for gybe to ensure their first podium finish on an offshore leg would also be their first win, and spark wild celebrations lit up by a booming firework display.

For Groupama, the consolation prize came soon enough, as Telefónica’s finish in fourth place — behind PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG in the third podium slot and just ahead of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand — meant the French team climb above them.

Abu Dhabi, who finished at 21:23:54 UTC, received 30 points for victory, with Groupama netting 25 after their finish at 21:29:21. PUMA took 20 points, Telefonica 15 and CAMPER 10.

Team Sanya finished sixth to pick up five points.

Groupama, skippered by Franck Cammas, now lead Telefónica by three points overall, with the Spanish team dropping off the lead for the first time since their victory on Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town back in November.

Four teams remain separated by just 21 points, making it the closest contest in the 39-year history of the Volvo Ocean Race with just two offshore legs and three in-port races still to come.

The arrival in Lisbon represented a homecoming for Abu Dhabi, who had a training base in nearby Cascais during the build-up to the race.

“It’s incredible — what a welcome,” said Walker, before he and Emirati crew member Adil Khalid were chucked into the water by their team mates.

“Do you think you can make the last 10 miles of a race any harder than that?

“It’s one of the most amazing experiences of my sailing career, that’s for sure. Mentally, certainly I’m exhausted. It’s just such a relief.”

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate finishing first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by  IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate finishing first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi also visited Lisbon in much less happy circumstances during Leg 1, after a dismasting within the first few hours ultimately forced them to ship the boat from Lisbon to Cape Town.

While they have notched up three victories in in-port races, and have a strong chance of winning the series, this is the first time they have really been able to shine in an offshore leg.

First Groupama and then Telefónica enjoyed the lead for long spells on a leg that started out looking like a fast, direct sprint across the Atlantic before the effects of Tropical Storm Alberto altered things drastically.

One by one, the boats were forced to head ever further north towards the ice exclusion zone.

Abu Dhabi moved into the lead on Day 6 and after briefly surrendering it to CAMPER they were back ahead the following day.

Two days later they were clear, though skipper Ian Walker warned repeatedly that a light-air zone inside the final 300 nautical miles would see the fleet compress.

That’s exactly how it turned out, with Abu Dhabi forced to scrap every step of the way to an emotional victory at the team’s second home.

“It came down to the wire, and we certainly had our ups and downs, but we are very happy,” said Groupama skipper Franck Cammas. “it was a good operation for us!”

Third place for PUMA kept them in contention for the overall lead, 12 points behind new leaders Groupama.

“This is a great result,” said the team’s American skipper Ken Read. “There’s still a lot of points on the board and to be on the podium is a big deal for us.”

Crown Prince Felipe of Spain visits Team Telefonica in the Lisbon Race Village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Crown Prince Felipe of Spain visits Team Telefonica in the Lisbon Race Village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

The battle between Telefónica and CAMPER for fourth and fifth came down to a slow-motion tussle over an excruciating final few miles, with no breeze and the current against them.

Telefónica eventually finished with an advantage of 102 seconds and less than a boat length for a five-point boost that could yet prove crucial.

The action resumes with the In-Port Race on June 9, followed by the start of Leg 8 to Lorient the following day.

Leg 7 results:

1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 11d, 04h, 23m, 54s

2. Groupama sailing team – 11d, 04h, 29m, 21s

3. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG – 11d, 06h, 26m, 52s

4. Team Telefónica – 11d, 08h, 28m, 27s

5. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand – 11d, 08h, 30m, 09s

6. Team Sanya – 11d, 08h, 44m, 25s

Overall        Leg 7    Total
1            Groupama sailing team    25    183
2            Team Telefónica    15    180
3            PUMA Ocean Racing by BERG    20    171
4            CAMPER with Emirates Team NZ    10    162
5            Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing    30    104
6            Team Sanya    5    32

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, passes a spectator boat, during the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, passes a spectator boat, during the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing launched an 11th hour comeback in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race to take their tally of in-shore successes to three, while Groupama scored a strong second to pile the pressure on overall race leaders Telefónica.

Ian Walker’s crew were rewarded for sailing a near-perfect race on Saturday when they snatched the lead from Groupama on the penultimate leg and went on to seal a dramatic victory.

Although they were pipped at the post, Groupama’s result moves them to within just seven points of Telefónica, who had yet more in-port disappointment when a penalty for touching one of the turning marks relegated them to last place.

In a thrilling finale, PUMA came from behind to rocket past CAMPER into third just metres from the finish line.

It was a fourth successive podium finish in the in-shore series for Ken Read’s PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crew, and it brought them to within a point of third-placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand on the overall scoreboard.

Team Sanya, the only team not racing in a new generation boat, were unlucky not to finish higher up the leaderboard, having to settle for fifth after a brave battle with their rivals.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate taking first place, in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by  IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate taking first place, in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

“It feels great,” said a jubilant Abu Dhabi skipper Walker moments after crossing the finish line.

“We’ve had a tough time of it. We had no time at all to prepare for the last in-port race and we made a special point of having two full days’ training here. We wanted to show the world that Abu Dhabi hasn’t given up. We’re a good team, we’re determined, and it feels great to win a race.”

With the Volvo Ocean Race entering a critical stage with just three offshore legs and three in-port races left, just 14 points split the top four boats.

Telefónica still lead with 165 points but snapping at their heels are Groupama on 158, while CAMPER and PUMA are dangerously close on 152 and 151 respectively, bolstered by the results of the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race.

In a nail-biting contest peppered with position changes, Abu Dhabi capitalised on a strong start along with Sanya but it was Telefónica who led round the first mark, showing off their blistering speed on Leg 1.

The action couldn’t have been any more intense with Abu Dhabi and Groupama overhauling Telefónica on Leg 2. Meanwhile, after paying the price for heading offshore, CAMPER and PUMA were left desperately chasing the frontrunners.

While the front two stretched their lead, a fierce battle for third developed, climaxing on Leg 6 with Telefónica hitting the mark and the rest of the fleet piling in behind.

Telefónica were penalised by the on-the-water umpires, adding to their in-port misery and ending their hopes of consolidating their overall lead.

Sniffing a chance to pick up crucial points, PUMA, CAMPER and Sanya put pedal to metal and launched an extraordinary comeback that brought them back in touch with then leaders Groupama and second-placed Abu Dhabi with just a few legs left.

Abu Dhabi’s defining moment came when they hoisted a bigger sail than their French rivals, making the most of the smallest of speed advantages to pass Groupama despite having to dodge a spectator boat.

With the breeze fading, race officials chose to shorten the course and Abu Dhabi hung on to claim the win, all the more sweet due to the fact that just a few weeks ago their stricken boat Azzam was on a container ship en route to Brazil.

The sailors and shore crews are now turning their sights on the final preparations for 3,580 nautical mile Leg 7 from Miami to Lisbon, Portugal, starting on Sunday at 1700 UTC (1300 local time).

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate taking first place, in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate taking first place, in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

PORTMIAMI In-Port Race results:
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, 74:09
2. Groupama sailing team, +00:33
3. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, +02:02
4. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, +02:11 
5. Team Sanya, +2:35
6. Team Telefónica, +6:28

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, skippered by Ken Read from the USA chases down CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, to take third place in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by  IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, skippered by Ken Read from the USA chases down CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, to take third place in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA Ocean Racing  (Photo by George Bekris)

PUMA Ocean Racing (Photo by George Bekris)

Ken Read and The PUMA Ocean Racing Powered By BERG team win Leg 6,American skipper Ken Read led his PUMA team to a second consecutive leg win on Wednesday, arriving on home soil in Miami triumphant following an epic 17-day match race with closest rivals CAMPER to confirm they are back in contention for overall victory.

Since the heartbreak of the first leg, in which their yacht Mar Mostro dismasted, PUMA have been on the up – and after scoring their first offshore success in Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajaí, Brazil, they made it two in two with glory in Leg 6.

After coming off best in an intense battle for first place with CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, who at one point closed the gap to less than a mile, Read said his team were back in the fight for the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 trophy.

“That was about as stressful as it can get, believe me,” Read said. “It was touch and go, and the guys on CAMPER sailed very well, but I couldn’t be more proud of our team — they did an unbelievably great job.”

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crossed the finish line at 18:14:00 UTC, 17 days after leaving from Itajaí, Brazil, with CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand around an hour behind PUMA and on course to take second.

PUMA Ocean Racing first into Miami (Photo by Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA Ocean Racing first into Miami (Photo by Ian Roman /Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA dominated the 4,800 nautical mile leg from the start, only surrendering the lead on two occasion to CAMPER and for no more than 48 hours.

A fast start to the leg in fresh conditions saw PUMA lead out of Itajaí and into several days of fast sailing up the Brazilian coast.

As winds eased the fleet split into three groups, with CAMPER and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing closest to the shore enjoying two days at the head of the pack, while Team Telefónica and Groupama sailing team opted to head east in search of better breeze. PUMA split the difference and it paid as they got a jump on their rivals that would lay the foundations for their eventual win.

With the south-east trade winds providing near-perfect conditions for the Volvo Open 70s, a drag race began up to the Equator and through the Doldrums, which presented little problem for the fleet. But 10 days into racing, PUMA were nearly undone by storm clouds which stalled the leaders, allowing CAMPER and Telefónica to reel them in to just six miles.

Into the Caribbean Sea they enjoyed fast sailing once more until they hit tricky weather systems that once again saw the leading boats compress. Despite coming under fire from CAMPER right up until the very last minute, faultless sailing saw PUMA defend their lead to claim the win.

PUMA Ocean Racing Crosses the Leg 6 Finish line in Miani, USA (Photo by Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA Ocean Racing Crosses the Leg 6 Finish line in Miani, USA (Photo by Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race)

It’s the fourth time in six legs that PUMA have finished on the podium, and they pick up an invaluable 30 points for the leg win to take their overall tally to 147.

CAMPER will be awarded 25 points for second place, their best result in the offshore series since Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi when they finished second behind Team Telefónica.

“It’s been a long leg and PUMA have sailed very nicely, they have defended very well, but I think we have attacked well too,” CAMPER skipper Chris Nicholson said as his team closed in on the finish line. “I’m pretty happy with how it’s gone. We’re in better shape now for the next leg.”

Both teams will close the gap on overall leaders Telefónica, who were still scrapping it out for the final podium position with Groupama sailing team.

The current ETA for the arrival of Groupama and Telefónica is 0300 UTC, with fifth-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing expected to arrive at 0800 UTC.

 

eg 6
09/05/2012 18:23:56 UTC
DTL DTLC BS DTF
1 PUMA FIN 017d 01h 13m 59s
2 CMPR 0.00 7 12 9.2
3 GPMA 55.20 9 16 64.4
4 TELE 65.10 9 15 74.3
5 ADOR 135.70 9 14 144.9
SNYA Did Not Start
 All hands on deck during a sail change onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 6  (Photo by Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)

All hands on deck during a sail change onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 6 (Photo by Hamish Hooper/CAMPER ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

A trough of low pressure blocking the fleet’s path brought light winds on Friday and a tactical split in the trio at the front. Leaders PUMA have stuck doggedly to their north easterly course, while CAMPER and Telefónica gybed to the west in search of stronger winds closer to the Caribbean Islands.

By 1200 UTC today Team Telefónica had resumed a northerly track, putting pressure on CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, who must decide to follow suit or press on with a higher risk westerly strategy.

With up to 30 hours of slow sailing likely before the leaders break through into steadier winds, the pressure is well and truly on for the skippers and navigators on the top three boats.

Rome Kirby and Shannon Falcone share grinding responsibilities for the spinnaker trim, onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 6 (Photo by Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Rome Kirby and Shannon Falcone share grinding responsibilities for the spinnaker trim, onboard PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG during leg 6 (Photo by Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG navigator Tom Addis said leading into such a scenario was always tricky as it raised the threat of being caught by the boats behind, but was nevertheless confident in the short term strategy.

“A front has come through to the north and disturbed the trade winds so we’ve all compressed again,” Addis said. “It is unfortunate for us but it’s just how it goes.

“It’s hard to say when the breeze will pick up again. We’ve still got about 10 knots of breeze but it’s going to be a good day and a half before we’re into decent breeze again.

“When the wind goes light and you compress, especially for a good solid day, anything can happen. If someone gets a squall and picks up some wind for a few hours that could easily turn the fleet inside out.

“That makes things more tense on board, no question.”

Addis said PUMA’s current plan was to skirt around the eastern side of the Caribbean to avoid the additional threat of wind shadows in the lee of the island chain.

“The next 1,000 miles is going to be pretty light and tricky and it’s going to be ‘heart in the mouth’ stuff for the majority of the rest of the leg,” he said.

“We think we’ve got a solid plan and most likely we’ll go round the outside of the Caribbean islands,” he said. “Through the Caribbean there’s plenty of water but it’s fraught with lees.

“Those islands are very tall and they create big wind shadows so you’ve got to be very careful going through them.”

On second placed CAMPER, Media Crew Member Hamish Hooper said the mood was equally tense with skipper Chris Nicholson and navigator Will Oxley spending long hours together at the navigation station, deliberating on the best plan.

“It is certain to be a nerve-wracking few days for sure,” Hooper said.

“It has been said from the start that this last 1,000 miles will be where the leg is won and lost, and it’s looking about as tricky as tricky can be, with light fickle breezes throughout.

“It’s a maze. One boat will come out looking famous and it could be one of any of the five boats in the fleet.

Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race Zane Gills on the bow preparing for a sail change, onboard Team Telefonica during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA.( Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race)

Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race Zane Gills on the bow preparing for a sail change, onboard Team Telefonica during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA.( Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race).

“Abu Dhabi and Groupama who are still 100 miles behind are still right in this leg and in fact they are in the sometimes enviable position of having nothing to lose, so able to throw caution to the wind and take a gamble.”

Telefónica navigator Andrew Cape described the final push to the finish as “a bit touch and go”.

“There’s going to be a lot of changes, put it that way,” Cape added. “It’s going to be a tricky one. There’s going to be opportunities both ways but certainly the team that gets it right will be the winner.”

Cape said he was happy with the Spanish team’s positioning at this point but said there would be plenty of other key decisions to agonise over before the finish.

“We’re where we wanted to be, but this is the very first stage of about 25 that we need to get right,” he said.

At 1300 UTC PUMA still led the fleet, from CAMPER in second, Team Telefónica in third, Groupama sailing team in fourth and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in fifth.

Latest estimates show the leading boats arriving in Miami on or around midday on May 9.

Sailing backwards to remove seaweed, onboard Groupama Sailing Team during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA. (Photo by Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

Sailing backwards to remove seaweed, onboard Groupama Sailing Team during leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA. (Photo by Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)