Volvo Ocean Race Fleet round mark before heading out of Cape Town starting Leg 2  (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Volvo Ocean Race Fleet round mark before heading out of Cape Town starting Leg 2 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

– Gusts of up to 35 knots send fleet off to flyer

– Follow the race all the way on our app

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 19 – Skippers of the seven boats in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, which set out for the 6,125 nautical mile (nm) Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, left with warnings of possible cyclone activity and tropical storms ringing in their ears.

Race organisers took late measures to keep the 66 sailors away from the very worst of the weather on the Indian Ocean with a new exclusion zone leading to the Seychelles.

There were already zones in place to avoid icebergs in the Southern Ocean and the more unlikely menace of pirate attack further down the route on the east coast of the Indian Ocean.

The latter zone was being kept secret from the public to avoid the possibility of the fleet being intercepted.

From the very start on Wednesday (1800 local/1600 UTC), the sailors were given a taste of things to come with gusts of up to 35 knots kicking up a procession of white-capped waves.

It was a question of ‘don’t break your boat’ as most opted for conservative sail choices, while they wrestled to keep them under control and intact.

For the second leg start in a row, Team Brunel led the fleet out of port after wrestling the lead, first from MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), and then Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) who were well in the hunt.

Brunel and Mapfre leave Cape Town, South Africa at start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo © Chris Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

Brunel and Mapfre leave Cape Town, South Africa at start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo © Chris Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

The fleet will continue to sail in these gale-force conditions, which Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright (USA) described before the start as ‘heinous’.

“I think we’re all going to have to be pretty conservative,” he told the skippers’ press conference, just over 24 hours earlier. “This could be the worst sea state these boats have ever seen.”

Favourites for the leg are Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), who have barely made a false move since setting out from Alicante on October 11.

They followed their 12-minute win over Dongfeng Race Team in Leg 1 on November 5, by securing victory on Saturday in the Cape Town in-port race.

When asked if there were such a thing as ‘home advantage’ in sailing, Walker, 44, was determined to keep his crew’s feet on the ground – as well as his own.

“First we have to get there,” he smiled. “I’ll be happy just to get within range and then arrive in Abu Dhabi. There’s a fantastic welcome for everybody in store once we get there, that’s for sure.”

Team Vestas Wind surprised onlookers when a choir on board their support boat burst into song just prior to the start. Their message was loud and clear: ‘There’s an even more important race we must win – to save the environment’.

Leg 2 is expected to take between 22 to 28 days to complete, depending on conditions. The boats will remain in Abu Dhabi over Christmas and the New Year before setting sail again on January 3 for Sanya, China.

 

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing leaving Cape Town, South Africa at start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo © Chris Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing leaving Cape Town, South Africa at start of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo © Chris Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

 

 

 

Abu Dhabi Racing Team, skippered by Ian Walker, win the In-Port acing Series in Cape Town, South Africa racking up more points (Photo © Charlie Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race

Abu Dhabi Racing Team, skippered by Ian Walker, win the In-Port acing Series in Cape Town, South Africa racking up more points (Photo © Charlie Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race

In-Port CAPE TOWN total
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 1 3
Team Brunel 2 6
Team Alvimedica 6 7
Team SCA 3 9
Dongfeng Race Team 4 9
MAPFRE 7 10
Team Vestas Wind 5 12

* Did Not Finish | ** Retired | *** Disqualified | **** Did Not Start

– Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing top of In-Port series

– Follow the race all the way on our app

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 15 – Ian Walker (GBR) and his Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew became the confirmed kings of Cape Town on Saturday, clinching the in-port race less than a week after arriving here as Leg 1 winners.

The victory, by just over a minute, leaves them on top of the In-port Race Series too, and bursting with confidence for Leg 2 which starts on Wednesday (November 19).

Only in the sprint to the finish line from the final mark on the eight-mile course on Saturday, did Walker’s men look under threat with Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) breathing down their necks.

The fleet was split from the start in challenging conditions in Table Bay, under the famous Table Mountain, with winds jumping dramatically between 12 and 20 knots and rain clouds threatening throughout.

Walker’s team from the Emirates have already shown that they can make the right decisions under the toughest of pressure, by edging out Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) by just 12 minutes in a thrilling Leg 1 climax last week after 25 days of sailing from Alicante to Cape Town.

November 15, 2014. The fleet during the  In-Port race in Cape Town. (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

November 15, 2014. The fleet during November 15, 2014. The fleet at the start of the In-Port race in Cape Town. (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

After some 20 minutes of racing on Saturday, they looked to have victory in the bag, especially after one of their rivals for the in-port series prize, Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), suffered a tear in their headsail.

The battle for second place soon grabbed the attention of most with Team SCA and Team Brunel in a thrilling showdown after the Dutch found a burst of pressure midway round.

Bekking had earlier told a press conference that the in-port series was not a big priority for him.

But he and his crew were plainly giving it 100 percent as they scrambled with Team SCA for the second rung of the poldium.

A problem with a gennaker failing to unfurl cleanly finally scuppered the efforts of the women’s crew to keep Bekking and co at bay and Team Brunel made one final effort to catch Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

Once again, Walker was ready for the challenge and by the finish line had a winning margin of a couple of hundred metres from Team Brunel with Team SCA in third.

Results Cape town In-Port Race:
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 15:06:57 -1pt
2. Team Brunel (NED) 15:08:00 – 2pts
3. Team SCA (SWE) 15:09:04 – 3pts
4. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) 15:09:22 – 4pts
5. Team Vestas Wind (DEN) 15:11:25 – 5pts
6. Team Alvimedica (USA/TUR) 15:16:14 – 6pts
7. MAPFRE (ESP) 15:18:32 – 7pts

November 15, 2014. The fleet at the start of the In-Port race in Cape Town. (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

November 15, 2014. The fleet at the start of the In-Port race in Cape Town. (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

November 5, 2014. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing celebrate on stage after crossing the finish line in Cape Town as the winners of Leg 1. (Photo © Ian Roman/Volvo OCean Race)

November 5, 2014. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing celebrate on stage after crossing the finish line in Cape Town as the winners of Leg 1. (Photo © Ian Roman/Volvo OCean Race)

Leg 1 – Alicante to Cape Town

26 days at sea.


Times

In order of finish: Finish date Finish Time Elapsed Time
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 11/05/14  15:10:44 UTC  25d 3h 10m 44s
Dongfeng Race Team 11/05/14  15:22:48 UTC  25d 3h 22m 48s
Team Brunel  11/05/14  19:33:25 UTC  25d 7h 33m 25s
Team Vestas Wind  11/06/14  12:48:47 UTC  26d 00h 48m 47s
Team Alvimedica  11/07/14  01:07:38 UTC 26d 13h 07m 38s
Team SCA  11/07/14  11:37:49 UTC  26d 23h 37m 49s
MAPFRE   11/07/14  12:47:32 UTC  27d 00h 47m 32s

Stats

In order of finish: Sailed
distance (nm)
Max 24hr
distance (nm)
Max 1hr avg
speed (Knots)
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 8772,444 539,269 26,5
Dongfeng Race Team 8363,906 541,655 24,5
Team Brunel 8788,946 533,5 26,5
Team Vestas Wind 8531,5 522,7 23,8
Team Alvimedica  8405,5 489,5  27,9
Team SCA  8499,9  501,6  23,8
 MAPFRE  8525,9  477,5  21,7
November 05, 2014. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crosses the finish line winning Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town after 25 days of sailing.  (Photo copyright Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race )

November 05, 2014. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crosses the finish line winning Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town after 25 days of sailing. (Photo copyright Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Leg 1
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

ADOR
ADOR FIN – 025d 03h 10m 44s
DFRT
DFRT FIN – 025d 03h 22m 48s
TBRU
TBRU 0 61 45.9 15
VEST
VEST 172.9 52 218.7 7
ALVI
ALVI 306 59 351.8 15
MAPF
MAPF 395 62 440.9 20
SCA1
SCA1 424.4 60 470.2 19

–  Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing win by just 12 minutes

– Dongfeng Race Team chase Azzam to the finish

– Follow the race all the way on our app 

ALICANTE, Spain, Nov 5 – Ian Walker (GBR) and his Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew have barely snatched a wink of sleep for nearly 48 hours, but they will surely be celebrating deep into the night after an epic first leg victory in the Volvo Ocean Race on Wednesday.

November 5, 2014. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing celebrate after crossing the finish line in Cape Town as the winners of  Leg 1 (Photo copyright Charlie Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

November 5, 2014. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing celebrate after crossing the finish line in Cape Town as the winners of Leg 1 (Photo © Charlie Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race)

There have been many close finishes in the 41-year history of the event, but few will have been quite so tense for the victors, who have been feeling the hot breath of Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) down their necks for the best part of a week in the 6,487-nautical mile (nm) stage.

Even with the finish under Table Mountain in Cape Town in sight 2nm away, Walker could not relax, with wind in perilously short supply and the Chinese boat able to close again before Azzam finally claimed the hardest fought of victories.

The crossed the line at 1510 UTC, just 12 minutes before Dongfeng, after 25 days, three hours and 10 minutes of sailing.

The win is a personal triumph for 44-year-old Walker. The Briton was forced to motor miserably back into Alicante on the first night of the opening leg in 2011-12 after a Mediterranean storm dismasted his boat.

This time, he and the crew have barely made an error since setting out with the rest of the fleet on October 11 from Alicante, and their Volvo Ocean 65 has withstood everything that the Med and the Atlantic could throw at them.

But they still could not shake off Caudrelier’s crew, who tried all manner of manoeuvres, some under the cover of darkness, to get the better of the front-runners.

Walker, red-eyed after sleep deprivation for so long, was finally able to celebrate surely one of the sweetest wins of a career, which also includes two Olympic silver medals.

November 05, 2014. Skipper Ian Walker, Adil Khalid and Luke Parkinson on stage for the prize giving. Abu Dhabi was first of Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town.  ( Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

November 05, 2014. Skipper Ian Walker, Adil Khalid and Luke Parkinson on stage for the prize giving. Abu Dhabi was first of Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town. (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

“It’s quite emotional actually,” Walker told Race HQ, minutes after crossing the line.

“I didn’t think I would be – but that last couple of hours, they threw everything at us,” he smiled, “We’ve had people ride on our heels for the last 10 days or so. I must congratulate Dongfeng, an absolutely fantastic performance.”

Ian Walker greets Charles Caudrelier as Team Dongfeng docks and takes 2nd place just minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grabs first place in Leg 1 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Ian Walker greets Charles Caudrelier as Team Dongfeng docks and takes 2nd place just minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grabs first place in Leg 1 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

In contrast, Caudrelier looked like he had thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the chase and the opportunity to prove a point to those who doubted that his crew, that included two Chinese rookies, could seriously compete at the front of the fleet.

Dongfeng Race Team’s second place was all the more remarkable since twice their progress was slowed through damage to the boat; first through a smashed rudder and then through a shattered padeye, which caused a domino-effect of damage including a broken wheel.

Charles Caudrelier and Team Dongfeng  takes 2nd place just minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grabs first place in Leg 1 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Charles Caudrelier and Team Dongfeng takes 2nd place just minutes after Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grabs first place in Leg 1 (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Repeatedly over the past week, they have nibbled away at Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s lead, closing to within three nm shortly after daybreak on Wednesday.

But Walker and his team had sailed too well for too long to give victory away after such a struggle, and the crowd packing Cape Town’s famous V&A Waterfront gave them a reception they surely will never forget.

1st Place finish podium with Abu Dhabi Ocean  Racing Team led by Ian Walker (Photo by Ian Roman/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing)

1st Place finish podium with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Team led by Ian Walker (Photo by Ian Roman/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing)

For the rest of the fleet, it’s now a battle for the minor places and equally hard-won points. Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) should take third spot later on Wednesday with Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) looking good for fourth.

Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) are expected to be too far ahead to be caught in fifth, but MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) could yet have a big tussle for sixth and seventh spots before their expected arrival in Cape Town on Friday.

November 05, 2014. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing leads at the end of Leg 1 on the approach of Cape Town finish line.  (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

November 05, 2014. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing leads at the end of Leg 1 on the approach of Cape Town finish line. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Brunel leadt the fleet out of Alicante at the Start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15

Brunel leadt the fleet out of Alicante at the Start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15

 

Team Brunel leads fleet out of Alicante

– Around 50,000 flock to dockside to wish sailors fair winds

– Opening night 20-knot winds and rain to greet sailors

– Follow the race all the way with our new app

ALICANTE, Spain, October 11 – The seven-strong fleet of the 12th Volvo Ocean Race raced out of Alicante on Saturday for the punishing first leg to Cape Town with rains and strong winds forecast to greet them in the opening eight hours.

The Start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo by Davis Ramos/Volvo Ocean Race )

The Start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo by Davis Ramos/Volvo Ocean Race )

Team Brunel took the honours after the fleet bade farewell to a memorable Alicante nine-day stopover before heading out to the Mediterranean, through the Straits of Gibraltar and then into the Atlantic during the first week of a nine-month, 38,739-mile marathon.

Skippered by Bouwe Bekking, the Dutch boat headed the seven-strong fleet out of the Spanish coastal city which hosts the Race HQ and has given the 66 sailors competing in Leg 1 an incredible send-off with tens of thousands visiting the Race Village every day.

They were hotly pursued by both Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and MAPFRE.

Memories of the last “salida” (departure) from Alicante three years ago will still be fresh for many – Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Sanya were forced to limp back to shore with crippling damage within 24 hours after an opening night storm in the Med wrought early havoc.

Goodbye hugs (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Goodbye hugs (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

There’s no such carnage predicted this time but Race meteorologist Gonzalo Infante suggested it will be “messy” from about 2200 local time (2000 UTC) on the first leg when rains are likely to drench the fleet and winds could pick up to around 20 knots.

Traditionally, boats who have won Leg 1 have gone on to win the entire race but Groupama bucked that trend in 2011-12 when they finished last of only three boats who managed to complete the 6,487 miles to Cape Town.

The French team, led by Franck Cammas, took time to get into their stride but eventually emerged as deserved winners by the time the fleet reached their home port of Lorient, the penultimate stopover.

Another close race is predicted again for 2014-15, especially with the new one-design Volvo Ocean 65 levelling the playing field, but for the 50,000 or so who packed the Alicante Race Village to wave the fleet on their way, the event has already proved a winner.

The Start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo by Davis Ramos/Volvo Ocean Race )

Boats ready fpr the Start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo by Davis Ramos/Volvo Ocean Race )

Bouwe Bekking (Photo by Kurt Arrigo/Team Brunel)

Bouwe Bekking (Photo by Kurt Arrigo/Team Brunel)

 Team Brunel stole pole position in the first competitive meeting of the new Volvo Ocean 65s, as the inaugural edition of the Marina Rubicón Round Canary Islands race took place in Lanzarote this week.

Bouwe Bekking’s crew, who completed the 650-nautical mile course in 57 hours and 39 minutes, secured first prize in a race against two of their Volvo Ocean Race rivals – the Spanish-backed boat skippered by Iker Martínez, and the all-women’s crew of Team SCA.

“The race was really fun, with various conditions”, said Team Brunel’s Lithuanian crew member Rokas Milevičius. “We had strong wind, light wind, no wind – and we sailed up and downwind”.

Featuring seven islands, and a host of tricky transition zones, the course is a notoriously turbulent one – and Rokas reckons that the added experience of his team played an integral role in the win.

“We knew exactly what to expect, because Andrew ‘Capey’ Cape has done this race before”, he added. “He did a great job in preparing the race. We knew where the wind would die, and where the wind would increase.”

Meanwhile, in a fight to the death for the silver spot, the Spanish-backed boat narrowly pipped Team SCA to the runner-up place.

Newly-named runner-up skipper Iker Martínez and his crew made it back to Lanzarote in 59 hours and 40 minutes – just 10 minutes before their rivals.

And despite losing out on victory, the Spaniard was delighted with the performance of his team. “It’s been a good surprise”, he said.

“We came here to see where we’re at, and to establish a base upon which to start learning. The truth is that we are better off than what we first thought”.

It was back to the drawing board for Team SCA though, who admitted that after months of tough training, their first competitive race in the new boat was a real learning curve.

“We have a long way to go”, said American sailor Sally Barkow. “It just highlights what is important in an offshore race, so I think everyone now has a better concept of what we need to get better at”.

But third place is not the end of the world, according to her teammate, Abby Ehler, who believes that the team still have reason to be confident.

“This is what we’ve been training for the whole time – to race”, she said. “We were able to hang in there and give the other boats a run for their money. I think we can be pretty happy with ourselves”.

Photo by Yann Riou Team DongFeng

Photo by Yann Riou Team DongFeng

As the teams were landed back into Lanzarote, Dongfeng Race Team continued their pre-race preparations with a session of T’ai Chi.

The ancient martial art, famous for its numerous health and well-being benefits, originates from the city of Shiyan, one of the Chinese-backed team’s platinum partners.

French skipper Charles Caudrelier sees it as the perfect way to unite his multi-cultural – and multi-lingual – crew.

“It’s something we all enjoy”, he said. “It’s interesting for the western crew to discover new things like this everyday with our Chinese sailors”.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Meanwhile, Team Alvimedica and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing arrived in Southampton, UK earlier this week, following successful transatlantic crossings from Newport, Rhode Island.

The trip – which under strict Volvo Ocean Race rules was not a race – saw the boats navigate some tricky weather conditions, including 40 knot winds, and thunder and lightning storms.

“We are really on our toes”, said ADOR navigator Simon Fisher, during the crossing. “It’s really, really relevant race training, for sure”.

And Team Alvimedica, in particular, will be pleased to spend some time on dry land following long spells at sea in recent weeks – but their preparations were well worth it, according to their Onboard Reporter Amory Ross.

“Heaps of tough miles, and each of them valuable in so many ways”, he wrote. “I think it’s safe to say that everyone feels they were extremely well spent”.

The voyage saw Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s skipper, Ian Walker, return to his hometown – and the respective boats will remain on the south coast Aberdeen Asset Management’s Cowes Week, which runs from August 2-9, before embarking on the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race the following day.

The two teams will also be joined by Team SCA, the Spanish-backed boat, and Dongfeng Race Team.

Sophie Chszek (Photo by Corinna Halloran/ Team SCA)

Sophie Chszek (Photo by Corinna Halloran/ Team SCA)

Team Abu Dhabi and Team Alvimedica leave Newport, RI for the United Kingdom (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Abu Dhabi and Team Alvimedica leave Newport, RI for the United Kingdom (Photo by George Bekris)

 

Two rival Volvo Ocean Race crews have set out for transatlantic crossings from Newport, Rhode Island to the United Kingdom this week as preparations for the event start in October continued to heat up.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Alvimedica are strictly forbidden under Volvo Ocean Race rules to compete against each other over such a trip, but were given permission to start their transatlantic passages on Wednesday at the same time in a ‘promotional start’ watched by hundreds of Newport sailing fans.

Team Abu Dhabi and Team Alvimedica leave Newport, RI for the United Kingdom (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Abu Dhabi and Team Alvimedica leave Newport, RI for the United Kingdom (Photo by George Bekris)

The Emirati-backed crew led by Britain’s Ian Walker was in buoyant mood ahead of Wednesday’s departure for Gosport in England after a short break following its 3,116 nautical mile trip from Portugal to Rhode Island.

That crossing threw up some unique moments including an unexpected three-blast salute from the famous ocean liner RMS Queen Mary 2 – the flagship of the Cunard Line – which overhauled the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Azzam boat as both navigated around a zone of icebergs.

“We had just sailed five days without seeing another boat and suddenly the RMS Queen Mary 2 comes within 250 yards,” Walker said.

“I spoke to the captain on the radio: he came in close and gave us three very loud blasts. All the guests were on deck waving and taking photos of us. Unbelievable moment.”

After arriving in England, Azzam will be prepared for the Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week where it will take on its first competitive outings – the Artemis Challenge Race around the Isle of Wight on August 7 and the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race on August 10.

Team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Alvimedica leave Newport, RI for the United Kingdom (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Abu Dhabi and Team Alvimedica leave Newport, RI for the United Kingdom (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Alvimedica also set out from Narragansett Bay in Newport for Southampton and completed a short circuit before finally waving farewell to its American homeport. The next time it will be back will be when the Volvo Ocean Race visits Newport in May next year.

Team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Alvimedica leave Newport, RI for the United Kingdom (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Alvimedica leave Newport, RI for the United Kingdom (Photo by George Bekris)

“It’s not easy to leave friends and family behind but it is time to get out and go sailing,” said skipper Charlie Enright. “While we have achieved a lot in our month here in Newport, we now need to maximise our time at sea together as a team.”

Like Azzam, Team Alvimedica will compete in the Round Britain & Ireland Race.

Team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Alvimedica leave Newport, RI for the United Kingdom (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Alvimedica leave Newport, RI for the United Kingdom (Photo by George Bekris)

The campaign, sailing under the American and Turkish flags, this week confirmed five new sailors to join Enright and Mark Towill.

American Nick Dana, New Zealanders Ryan Houston and Dave Swete, Australian Will Oxley, and Italian Alberto Bolzan have all joined, and only the latter is a Volvo Ocean Race rookie plus the first from his country to join a crew in the 2014-15 edition. Amory Ross of Rhode Island has been named as the team’s Onboard Reporter.

Team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Alvimedica leave Newport, RI for the United Kingdom (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Alvimedica leave Newport, RI for the United Kingdom (Photo by George Bekris)

The Spanish team, whose main sponsor is yet to be confirmed, also completed part of their recruitment drive this week with Frenchman Nico Lunven and Spaniards Rafa Trujillo and Antonio ‘Ñeti Cuervas-Mons joining the line-up led by Iker Martínez and Xabi Fernández.

It will be the third Volvo Ocean Race for ‘Ñeti’ who will be taking charge of training the under 30s in the Spanish crew and also extra coaching responsibilities.

Team Brunel, meanwhile, completed their line-up with the confirmation of another Frenchman, Laurent Pagès, in their ranks.

Having helped Groupama to victory in the last race, the sailor from southwest France already has plenty of experience. He also knows his new skipper Bouwe Bekking well as they sailed together on third-placed Telefónica Blue back in 2008-09.

Dongfeng Sailing Team in Newport, Rhode Island (Photo by George Bekris)

Dongfeng Sailing Team in Newport, Rhode Island (Photo by George Bekris)

Dongfeng Race Team sailed to Spain for a 48-hour break from the rain in Lorient while Team SCA’s all-female crew both took time out from offshore training this week.

Dongfeng_Race_Team_VOR_George_Bekris_2014_12

Dongfeng Race Team (Photo by George Bekris)

The women of Team SCA are focusing their sights firmly on their last big competitive test before the Race start on October 4. They will be joining several other boats from the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, including Azzam and Team Alvimedica, in the Round Britain & Ireland Race in August.

Team SCA in Newport before leaving for spain . (Photo by George Bekris)

Team SCA in Newport before leaving for spain . (Photo by George Bekris)

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For More Photos of Team Alvimedica snd Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Leaving Newport Click HERE

groupama 4 Volvo Ocean Race Crew (Photo Courtesy of Groupama)

groupama 4 Volvo Ocean Race Crew (Photo Courtesy of Groupama)

A year ago, just days before Groupama 3 was to set sail on her second attempt to conquer the Jules Verne Trophy, Groupama announced its participation in the next two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race with Franck Cammas. 

“Our commitment to the Volvo Ocean Race until 2015 is an expression of our Group’s approach to development, which has been strongly internationalised over the past 3 years, explained Jean Azéma, managing director of Groupama. We’ve chosen this Round the World race to promote our image and thus write a new page in our shared history, for the wider benefit of Franck Cammas and Groupama. Given its longevity on the circuit, its human dimension and its international course, the Volvo Ocean Race is synonymous with Groupama’s values as a builder, humanist and something that is lasting.”

Since November 2009, the Groupama Sailing Team has continued to become stronger, to work on the design of the future Groupama 4 as well as sail aboard Groupama 70, winner of the last edition of the crewed Round the World with stopovers, which went by the name of Ericsson 4.

For his part, the Groupama skipper has successively won the Jules Verne Trophy and the Route du Rhum aboard Groupama 3. His has been a packed schedule, but one which didn’t prevent him from playing an active role in the selection of the crew, who will participate in the Volvo Ocean Race.

 The first to be named is Irish sailor Damian Foxall, who has already participated in three editions of the Volvo (2001, 2005 and 2008). At 41 years of age, this most French of Anglophones resides in Lorient. Winner of the Barcelona World Race with Jean-Pierre Dick, Damian is very enthusiastic: “From the outset, I was involved in selecting the crew alongside Franck. It was necessary to define the skills set we wanted to gather together. The greatest challenge is to work effectively as a team and to drive Groupama 4 at 100% of her potential at each of the nine stages, with very little time during the stopovers. In the nine months, the fatigue accumulates. At the end, you really feel like you’ve done a circumnavigation of the globe.”

Damian will take up the position of helmsman, trimmer and crew manager.

According to Franck Cammas: “When Damian is on a project, it is often the winning one. As such it’s better to have him with us rather than against us”.

At 31 years of age, the Australian Phil Harmer will participate in his third edition of the Volvo Ocean Race (2005 and 2008). Phil lives in the Hamble in the United Kingdom. “I’m really lucky to be in the Groupama Sailing Team. Since the call from Damian, who I sailed with on Green Dragon, I’ve had other offers, but I don’t want to leave. All the work that has gone into this is fantastic, both in technical and human terms. To date, no other team is in a position do better.”

Phil will take up the role of helmsman, trimmer, pitman and master sailmaker.

According to Franck: “Phil is a specialist in sails and manoeuvres. A very good trimmer, he’s also a master sailmaker, which is an essential skill to have in the crew.”

Swede Magnus Woxen is preparing for his fifth Volvo (1997, 2001, 2005 and 2008). Aged 39 and living in Stockholm, “Baggy” as he is commonly known, doesn’t lack humour: “It may be because Damian found my French to be “très bien” that he contacted me. Groupama draws its strength from over ten years’ experience. Of course competing in the Volvo is something new for them. I’m bringing them the experience I’ve gained from my four successive Volvos. It’s a fusion of skills.”

Magnus will take up the position of helmsman, trimmer and mast consultant.

According to Franck: “Magnus is a Volvo Ocean Race specialist. He really has a good command of what we know least about the Volvo Ocean Race. Any discussions and negotiations with him are interesting as he really has a fresh way of looking at things. That’s what gives this crew its charm and richness”.

The first Frenchman to be selected by Franck, Jean-Luc Nélias is an old acquaintance as they competed together in a double-handed transatlantic aboard a Figaro. A native of Finistère this 48 year old has taken up the position of navigator on numerous boats but solely on one leg of the last edition of the Volvo, aboard Green Dragon: “It’s a race which has had a lot of bearing on my life but was hard to access as there weren’t many French sailors doing it. I’d applied to Anglo-Saxon teams several times, but never with any success. Franck very quickly invited me to join the Groupama Sailing Team in Lorient. It’s a lot of work but also a great pleasure.”

Jean-Luc will take up the position of navigator.

According to Franck: “Jean-Luc Nélias had never raced in the Volvo but, like me, he’d dreamed of doing it. We’ve just won the Route du Rhum, with him as router, so it augurs well”.

At 36, Charles Caudrelier is an old friend of Franck’s. Winner of the Solitaire du Figaro and the Transat Jacques Vabre with Marc Guillemot, he’s well aware of the new challenge which awaits him: “I wouldn’t have sailed with any old team because, to my mind, the Volvo is very difficult on a human level. All alone on a boat going around the world is something that fascinates people, but you only have to take care of yourself in that situation. When there are eleven people going around the world and it lasts a year, it’s very hard”.

Charles will take up the position of helmsman, trimmer, navigator and person in charge of performance.

According to Franck: “I’ve known Charles for a very long time; we even lived in the same house for two years! He’s someone who performs extremely well, as was proven in his victory in the Figaro and he is very involved in our project”.

The only French sailor to have participated in the Volvo Ocean Race since Eric Tabarly in 1993, Sébastien Josse is just 35 years of age. Based in the Morbihan, Brittany, the former skipper of ABN AMRO 2 is plunging back into extreme sailing: “Since my early days in ocean racing, I’ve alternated between crewed races and solo races. It’s a cycle. The hardest thing in a Volvo remains living on top of one another. It’s a bit like living in a travelling caravan of old. For two years, you’re with the same people and a few kit bags in various hotels. 90% of our time is devoted to racing and the team while the rest is kind of on hold”.

Sébastien will take up the position of helmsman, trimmer and head of on-board systems.

According to Franck: “Sébastien Josse is one of the rare Frenchmen to have skippered one of the Volvo Ocean Race boats recently. We’re really lucky to have him in the Groupama Sailing Team”.

Triple winner of the Mini Fastnet, Yann Riou will take up a special position aboard Groupama 4. At 36, this electronics and computer buff will be a Media Crew Member: “The role of Media Man essentially consists of taking video images, making a selection of shots and an initial edit and sending it to the organisation and the communication team so the images can be broadcast. Several minor tasks come on top of that: preparation of the food – as the boat’s official cook, and the small domestic chores – as an extreme cleaning operative”.

As such Yann won’t be allowed to touch a single sheet or a single sail.

According to Franck: “It was necessary to have a very good sailor in the role of media man as you have to be familiar with living and working on this type of boat. Yann’s offshore sessions aboard the Groupama trimarans and in the Mini mean that he has the appropriate profile.”

At 51, Jacques Caraës is the most senior member of the crew. A holder of the Jules Verne Trophy aboard Groupama, he also competed in the Whitbread with Eric Tabarly in 1993. Right now he’s ready to pull on his foulies again: “Having once had the experience, I know that this race makes men physically and mentally exhausted. The teams who retain the same composition throughout the race programme are rare. The replacements bring good humour and freshness, as well as strengthening the harmony and solidarity within the Team. The Volvo boats have become so extreme that I don’t mind distancing myself from the foredeck. Racing is wearing for everyone, including the media man. It’ll be a welcome feature for there to be two of us supporting each other in this role”.

As such Jacques will replace Yann Riou.

According to Franck: “I know Jacques very well through having done several Jules Vernes with him, even though only one got all the way round. He’s someone who is extremely solid, who’s already done several round the worlds and who, added to that, is always pleasant on a boat.”

A special feature of this eleventh edition of the Volvo Ocean Race is that three crew must be under thirty years of age at the moment of the race start.

A Swede who’s just squeezed into the under-thirty category, Martin Krite is a professional navigator. As such, he participated in the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race aboard Ericsson 3. However, he is also a pastor: “Religion is important to me. I have a personal faith and that influences my everyday life, not solely when I’m at sea. However, I’m in the team as a sailor and not as a pastor. If one of the guys wishes to have a discussion with me about this, I’ll be happy to answer any questions they may have. However, I don’t want to impose my belief on them.”

Martin will be bowman and boat captain

According to Franck: “Martin never complains and is very tough. As a Swede, he’s not afraid of the cold or the sea spray. Pleasant, always positive, hard-working and courageous, he forms part of the crew of under-thirty year olds who have experience in this domain”.

It’s rare to see a boat competing in the Volvo Ocean Race which doesn’t have any New Zealanders aboard. The Groupama Sailing Team is no exception to the rule with the arrival of Brad Marsh, aged 27. A member of Ericsson’s shore crew and a sailor aboard the Class America Team New Zealand during the Louis Vuitton Cup, he’s very determined: “I was very enthusiastic at the idea of discovering the French aspect of ocean racing as well as the French culture. The way a project is managed is so different. The French concentrate a great deal on the detail; they’re extremely focused. It’s very interesting to be able to witness it from the inside and to learn alongside people like Franck Cammas.”

Brad will be a bowman and in charge of the rigging.

According to Franck: “Brad has recently arrived in the team. He was a member of Ericsson 3’s shore crew so he hasn’t sailed in the race. However, he’s an enthusiastic sailor who will work in a complicated and at times dangerous position, where he’ll need courage. I think he has that.”

Martin Strömberg will be the third Swede on the boat. At 28, he’s already got one Volvo Ocean Race under his belt, aboard Ericsson 3: “We don’t speak French very well but we do speak English. One amusing thing is that when the three of us are together on deck, the others have christened it the “Ikea watch”. We have a real potential for victory, even though the team has never done the Volvo. Some of us have done it several times and there’s also Franck’s multihull experience. Ultimately, we’ve got a fair number of round the worlds on the clock between us. Frank is always there to get the boat and the crew performing at their very best. I find that very agreeable and stimulating”.

Martin will be a trimmer, pitman and sailmaker.

According to Franck: “Martin has a big build and that’s definitely something we need on the boat. He’s someone who is very calm and at the same time very rigorous, who does his job very well”.

Don’t go thinking that you have to be from outside France to have the necessary skills to race around the world at less than thirty years of age. The proof comes in the shape of Erwan Israël who will be competing in his first Volvo Ocean Race. A familiar face on the Figaro circuit, he’s now discovering the VOR 70: “The boats are powerful and constantly pushed to perform at 100%. We mustn’t let ourselves be overwhelmed by the big seas on deck. The sea trials are exhilarating. The participation of a French team will enable young French sailors to be trained up for the Volvo Ocean Race. I’m happy to be one of those.”

Erwan will be a trimmer and helmsman, as well as being in charge of the manoeuvres in the inshore races and also the safety.

According to Franck: “Erwan is an excellent racer. He’s young too and I hope he will race some of the legs. It’s our role to train them in the Volvo Ocean Race.”

Last but not least, Sébastien Marsset is a Mini specialist. Groupama 3’s technician, he’s the youngest member of the team at 25: “It’s a circumnavigation of the globe which in itself is not insignificant. It’s a competition with a compelling human story. Whether it is within the shore team or the sailing team, it’s going to be rich. What’s evident is that I have a lot to learn from the others. I have to try to absorb their experience. Ultimately I’m becoming fairly well integrated and haven’t had to endure any ragging. They say that I’m the sportiest amongst us, but I train like the others”.

Sébastien will be a trimmer, pitman and in charge of the deck hardware and safety.

According to Franck: “Seb came to us with a CV, which was a bit lacking in substance, but his attitude and motivation are excellent for the team. He started out working with the shore crew and during a few sea trials proved that he was motivated, along with performing increasingly well in the manoeuvres and boat management.”

Besides these twelve sailors, the Groupama skipper is relying on the heads of department to bring the Groupama group’s participation in the Volvo Ocean Race to a successful conclusion.

At 57, Luc Gellusseau is the first of them to join the Groupama Sailing Team. In charge of relations with the organisers and, in particular, the special race rules for the Volvo Ocean Race, he keeps an eye on each stage of the project – training, construction of Groupama 4, manufacture of the sails and constitution of the crew – to ensure that the decisions made conform to the race rules.

Watch leader aboard Telefonica during the last edition of the race, Laurent Pagès, 34 years of age, joined the Groupama Sailing Team back in August 2009 and is in charge of the sail programme: “The number of permitted sails has been reduced in relation to the 2008 edition. That means that you have to re-examine things from every angle in terms of strategy, development and design. There’s a whole in-depth study to be carried out with North Sails and our own team in order that we perform as well as possible on the start day, as well as throughout the nine months of racing”.

Loïc Dorez, head of the design office, Pierre Tissier, head of boat construction, Hervé Le Quilliec, in charge of logistics, Australian Ben Wright, head of the shore crew and finally Olivier Mainguy, in charge of the rigging, complete this team led by Stéphane Guilbaud, team manager, who has worked alongside Franck Cammas since 1997, the year when he won the Solitaire du Figaro: “The team has evolved in stages. There has been a steady succession of projects since 1998, which are increasingly ambitious every time. We’ve been lucky to be supported by Groupama, which is also forging ahead. Our aims are now international, which explains why a third of Groupama Sailing Team is from overseas. However, our basic rules have not changed and continue to revolve around humility, common sense and an ability to adapt. The team remains the most important value to be defended and Franck is a leader to us more than ever.”

Indeed Franck Cammas retains the determination and sporting ambition which have been his strength for what has already been a long period of time. After winning virtually all the possible races and records in a multihull (barring The Transat), the Groupama skipper explains this switch of direction: “To participate in the Volvo Ocean Race is a decision we’ve made together with Groupama, who has supported me for the past thirteen years. Together we’ve sought an event which can exert its influence over Groupama’s image internationally and enable us to progress and confront what I imagine to be the best in crewed ocean racing. We know that there’s a lot happening overseas and one way of progressing is to go and do battle with the best. That’s why we’re taking part.”
  

A few words about the Volvo Ocean Race
• 11th edition / 10 ports / 39,270 miles spanning 4 oceans
• First race in Alicante on 30th October 2011
• Start of the first leg between Alicante and Cape Town on 5th November 2011
• Last race in Galway on 7th July 2012
• French stopover in Lorient from 16th June to 1st July 2012
• 11 crew per boat including one media crew
• Ranking in points, 20% of which are awarded for the races during stopovers
• Groupama 4, first French boat to participate since Eric Tabarly, on La Poste, back in 1993.