Dublin. Ireland. 20th June 2016. The Volvo Round Ireland Race . Musandam-Oman Sail set a new record for the fastest-ever sail round Ireland when the team crossed the finish line at Wicklow in 38 hours, 37 minutes and 7 seconds. Skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) with team mates Damian Foxall (IRL) and Fahad Al Hasni (OMA), Jean Luc Nelias (FRA), Yasir Al Rahbi (OMA) and Sami Al Sukaili (OMA) Credit : Lloyd Images

Dublin. Ireland. 20th June 2016. The Volvo Round Ireland Race . Musandam-Oman Sail set a new record for the fastest-ever sail round Ireland when the team crossed the finish line at Wicklow in 38 hours, 37 minutes and 7 seconds. Skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) with team mates Damian Foxall (IRL) and Fahad Al Hasni (OMA), Jean Luc Nelias (FRA), Yasir Al Rahbi (OMA) and Sami Al Sukaili (OMA)
Credit : Lloyd Images

Musandam-Oman Sail set a new world record for sailing around Ireland* and posted a sensational victory in the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland Race after a cliff-hanger finish with just minutes separating the three giant trimarans on the line.

Arriving back in Wicklow Bay, after a thrilling contest with the other MOD70s, Phaedo and Concise, for most of the 700 nautical mile course, Sidney Gavignet’s crew were exhausted but exhilarated by their victory and the new record, which they had set themselves last year beating Steve Fossett’s longstanding Lakota record from 1993.

They crossed the finish line at 03:47 local time as dawn was breaking after setting a new time of 38 hours 37 minutes and 7 seconds, which was more than two hours faster than their previous time of 40 hours, 51 minutes and 57 seconds set last year.

Racing with just six crew, including Oman’s three leading offshore sailors Fahad Al Hasni, Yasir Al Rahbi and Sami Al Shukaili, Musandam-Oman Sail claimed line honours while Phaedo 3 were hot on their heels and arrived six minutes later with the third MOD70, Concise 10 trailing by a single minute.

Musandam-Oman Sail 2016 (Photo by Lloyd Images)

Musandam-Oman Sail 2016
(Photo by Lloyd Images)

The final few moments turned their race upside down, said Gavignet, since for most of the time, they had been chasing the other boats until an opportunity came up to take the lead less than a mile from the end.

“It feels fantastic because at times we were slower than the other boats and I was thinking we might finish last and lose our record but a few minutes before the finish we had a bit of luck and were close enough to the others to take advantage.

“The guys showed real commitment – we had no watch system so didn’t sleep much and didn’t use the bunks to keep more weight at the back so they were sleeping on the floor and on wet sail bags. They have been grinding a lot and worked really hard so they are exhausted but happy.”

It had been without question the most demanding race he had ever done, added Irishman Damian Foxall as he stepped off the boat, but coming out on top represented a new high in his long career.

“I have done a few round the world races but this was up there as one of the best,” he said.

“Racing with six meant one or two less than the other boats so we only had one hours sleep each at the most but being so close to the other boats was so motivating and intense.

Dublin. Ireland. 20th June 2016.  Credit : Lloyd Images

Dublin. Ireland. 20th June 2016.
Credit : Lloyd Images

“We knew at times we were off the pace but we kept pushing hard and found opportunities to come back into the race. There was a reasonable chance we were going to lose our record so Sidney was fairly tight-lipped coming down the east coast but it is very satisfying to win AND set a new record because this race is not for the faint hearted.”

Al Hasni, who shared helming duties with Gavignet and Foxall agreed it had been tiring but rewarding.

“We are really happy with this result; it makes me very proud to raise the Omani flag in Ireland for the second time with this world record – we dedicate our win to the Sultanate of Oman.

“In the last few miles, we were aware that there were potential passing lanes near the coast so we moved into position which worked and we were able to gain the advantage when it mattered most.

“It was really hard and we thought we had missed our opportunity but those last few minutes turned it round so we are very happy.”

David Graham, Oman Sail CEO, was delighted with the team’s performance: “This was one of the most difficult challenges that the guys on Musandam-Oman Sail have faced, I could hear the smile on Fahad’s face when he answered the satellite phone when I called them as they crossed the finish line to congratulate the team on both the victory and the record.

“We are especially pleased that Fahad, Yasir and Sami are an integral part of the race crew for a second Round Ireland Record – the team has been working hard and it is great to see their efforts pay off. This experience and success is key to their pathway. They had world class mentors on board with Sidney, Damian and Jean Luc [Nelias] and it all worked to deliver our desired result.”

The crew will return to training immediately after food and sleep in preparation for the delivery to Quebec, Canada, where they will set off on the Transat Quebec – St Malo Race across the Atlantic on July 10, returning to Europe for an action-packed summer season of events.

*pending ratification by World Sailing Speed Record Council

Dublin. Ireland. 20th June 2016. The Volvo Round Ireland Race . Musandam-Oman Sail set a new record Credit : Lloyd Images

Dublin. Ireland. 20th June 2016. The Volvo Round Ireland Race . Musandam-Oman Sail set a new record
Credit : Lloyd Images

 

 The 2014 Route Du Rhum finish. Guadeloupe. Pictures of Sidney Gavignet onboard his MOD70 Trimaran Musandam - Oman . Finishing the Route du Rhum in 5th place this morning Credit: Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images

The 2014 Route Du Rhum finish. Guadeloupe. Pictures of Sidney Gavignet onboard his MOD70 Trimaran Musandam – Oman . Finishing the Route du Rhum in 5th place this morning ( Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sidney Gavignet, French skipper of the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship, Musandam-Oman Sail, crossed the finish line of the Route du Rhum in Guadeloupe at 9:15:24 CET this morning completing the epic adventure in 8 days 19 hours 15 minutes and 24 seconds. After 4,446 nautical miles at an average speed of 21.5 knots he was delighted to reach dry land.

“Mission accomplished!” he said as he came ashore to speak to the media who welcomed him in at 03:30 local time. “The boat was superbly prepared by the shore team and is in as good shape as when I left St Malo 8 days ago, a testimony to their great work.

The 2014 Route Du Rhum finish. Guadeloupe. Pictures of Sidney Gavignet onboard his MOD70 Trimaran Musandam - Oman . Sidney speaks with reporters after the finish  ( Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

The 2014 Route Du Rhum finish. Guadeloupe. Pictures of Sidney Gavignet onboard his MOD70 Trimaran Musandam – Oman . Sidney speaks with reporters after the finish ( Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

“My primary objective was to get to Guadeloupe in one piece and here I am. I made a few small errors during the last few hours of the race, but I managed to finish on the same night as Prince de Bretagne, a boat that is 10 feet bigger than Musandam-Oman Sail, and as Gitana, a heavily modified MOD70. I am immensely proud to have flown the flag of the Sultanate of Oman all the way across the Atlantic and into Guadeloupe. This place is very special to me as I met my wife here 23 years ago while I was training for the Whitbread.”

He was given a hero’s welcome in Pointe-a-Pitre by his Oman Sail teammates who have lived every moment of the race, highs and lows, alongside the skipper. Support for the 45-year-old Frenchman across three different time zones was immense with cheers going up in France and Muscat when he crossed the finish line.

Sidney Gavignet and shore crew member Suliman Al Wahaibi happily celebrate Musandam's arrival in Guadaloupe (Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd  Images)

Sidney Gavignet and shore crew member Suliman Al Wahaibi happily celebrate Musandam’s arrival in Guadaloupe (Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

CEO David Graham, who waved Sidney off in St Malo was the first to applaud such a triumph: “Huge congratulations to Sidney for this incredible achievement. It has been a voyage of discovery for the whole Oman Sail team that has lived this epic experience alongside him, every nautical mile of the way. It has proved very inspiring for our Omani sailors, especially our offshore team who have been sending Sidney messages of support throughout the race, as well as our younger sailors that aspire to greatness on the water in years to come.

“This event has been a great success for us both on the sporting front and in terms of promoting Oman as a high-end tourism destination – we are very proud of Sidney’s achievement and the impact it had with our sailors in terms of inspiration. It may have been a single-handed race, but the reality is there were hundreds of people on the MOD70 with Sidney!”

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Sidney Gavignet and Oman Sail – Musandam arrive in Guadaloupe under a full moon sky (Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

After a nail-biting first 48 hours of the race that saw the French skipper and his 70ft trimaran battle 40knot gusts and huge seas across the Bay of Biscay and then around Cape Finisterre, with a broken jet burner and no hot food, and a hurt and swollen forearm, the Frenchman bounced back with cheerful and awe inspiring tales of full moon sailing at 30knots and nerve-wracking squalls rolling in one after the other.

He punched way above his weight as he wrestled with Prince de Bretagne, an 80ft trimaran 10 feet his senior, all the way across the Atlantic and led right up to hours before the finish when boat length finally prevailed and Lionel Lemonchois gave him the slip to finish ahead.

The Oman Sail Route du Rhum had two objectives, the first to raise awareness of the Sultanate of Oman as a high-end tourist destination, and with over 2 million visitors to the St Malo race village and the “Visit Oman” tourism pavilion, over the course of a week at the start, this box was firmly ticked. The second was to finish – Sidney himself had estimated a 50/50 chance of catastrophe – and as a result to share the experience with the Omani sailors that aspire to follow in Sidney’s footsteps. Mission accomplished.

“One of the highlights of my race was receiving an email from Fahad Al Hasni, one of our best MOD70 sailors – it made me so happy I picked up the sat phone to tell him about life onboard. I think he was very surprised to hear from me, but I could hear the grin in his voice – I know that this race is inspiring my Omani teammates and making them want to go further in their careers and getting his message was a happy moment for me.”

Sidney will take some well-earned rest now and have a long overdue hot meal before the MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail is prepared for the return trip to Europe with Fahad Al Hasni, Yassir Al Rahbi, Abdulrahman Al Mashari and Sami Al Shukaili, onboard.

Route du Rhum Ultime Class – provisional results

  1. Banque Populaire VII/Loick Peyron/103ft – 7 days, 15 hours, 8 minutes, 32 seconds
  2. Spindrift II/Yann Guichard/131ft – 8 days, 5 hours, 18 minutes, 46 seconds
  3. Edmond de Rothschild/Sebastien Josse/modified MOD70 – 8 days, 14 hours, 47 minutes, 9 seconds
  4. Prince de Bretagne/Lionel Lemonchois/80ft – 8 days 17 hours 44 minutes, 50 seconds
  5. Musandam-Oman Sail/Sidney Gavignet/70ft – 8 days 19 hours 15 minutes, 24 seconds
  6. Idec/Francis Joyon/97ft – still racing
  7. Paprec Recyclage/Yann Eliès/70ft – still racing
Sidney Gavignet and Oman Sail - Musandam finish the Route du Rhum in Guadaloupe (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images )

Sidney Gavignet and Oman Sail – Musandam finish the Route du Rhum in Guadaloupe (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images )

The Extreme Sailing Series 2013. Act2. Singapore. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

 

Oman Sail’s The Wave, Muscat is finding it tough in the very light conditions in Singapore, but remains upbeat with an eye on the overall season results. The mixed European and Omani crew received special support today from Oman’s Consul General in Singapore, a dignitary that was heavily involved in a joint project called the Jewel of Muscat, a hand-stitched traditional dhow.

Oman Sail’s The Wave,  Muscat is finding it tough in the very light conditions in Singapore, but remains upbeat with an eye on the overall season results. The mixed European and Omani crew received special support today from Oman’s Consul General in Singapore, a dignitary that was heavily involved in a joint project called the Jewel of Muscat, a hand-stitched traditional dhow.

 

The Extreme Sailing Series 2013. Act2. Singapore. The Wave Muscat skippered by Leigh McMillan with crewmates: Pete Greenhalgh (GBR), Hashim Al Rashdi (OMA),Ed Smyth (NZL) and Musab Al Hadi (OMA) in action during day 3 of racing. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

The focus remained firmly fixed on the overall series title for the crew of The Wave, Muscat despite another testing day in light shifty breezes in Act 2 of the Extreme Sailing Series in Singapore.

After three days of racing in Marina Bay, Oman Sail’s Extreme 40 team is lying in third place overall but a place on the podium in any of the seven races completed eluded them for the first time in two seasons.

Once again it was Alinghi, helmed by Morgan Larsen who dominated the third day extending their lead to 27 points.

“We have a long term view,” said 2012 season champion Leigh McMillan, skipper of The Wave, Muscat, who has his eyes firmly on the overall series. “We hope to be in the top three by the close of racing on Sunday and if not, we know we can still bounce back from the situation and be in contention. It is a long season and there are six more events to go.

“It is fair to say that we have struggled with the conditions in Singapore, the Lake sailing experience of some of the guys in the fleet is really paying off this week. Most of the Extreme Sailing venues are difficult but Singapore takes it to another level,” he said.

The Extreme Sailing Series 2013. Act2. Singapore. The Wave Muscat skippered by Leigh McMillan with crewmates: Pete Greenhalgh (GBR), Hashim Al Rashdi (OMA),Ed Smyth (NZL) and Musab Al Hadi (OMA) in action during day 3 of racing. (Photo by Lloyd Images)

The progress of the Omani team is being closely watched; both at home in Oman where the racing is broadcast live on Oman’s Sport Channel, and in Singapore where the team received support from Oman’s Consul General in Singapore Mr Zakariya bin Hamed Al Sadi.

Mr Zakariya was involved in the Jewel of Muscat, a remarkable joint project between Oman and Singapore that saw the recreation of a 9th century hand stitched dhow (70,000 stitches!).

It sailed the Silk Route from Oman to Singapore to be gifted to the government of Singapore by the Sultan of Oman in celebration of the historic friendship between Oman and the Indian Ocean nations, and Singapore in particular.

“I am delighted to see the Omani team The Wave, Muscat taking part in such a big international event at this fantastic venue in Singapore,” said Mr Zakariya.

“The team carries a message introducing Oman and its capital Muscat to the world at large. I met the crew back in 2011 and today I am proud to see more Omanis racing and am also proud of what the team has achieved in the series especially winning the title last year!

“Having two Omanis as part of the team is evidence of the skills and expertise our sailors have had to develop to win selection in such a competitive event. It is also evidence of the success of our national project Oman Sail in its vision and objectives in developing the young Omanis in this sport.”

Zakariya’s visit gave Hashim al Rashdi and Musab al Hadi a boost; they are on a steep learning curve and after another tough day hopes remain high as the The Wave, Muscat goes into the final day tomorrow.

“We had a big issue with the start line so hopefully tomorrow we can get that right and we will need to stay out of trouble because we had too many penalties,” said Hashim. “We had very light winds today again which made it difficult for everyone. We are sailing well as a team but things are not going our way but we have one more day, we are going to learn from some mistakes and try to avoid any in the finals.”

Final racing is scheduled from 1500-1830 (SGT) and the finale from Singapore will be broadcast live on Oman TV’s Sport Channel from 1700-1830 (SGT) (1300-1430 Muscat time).

Muscat , The Wave in Singapore (Photo by Lloyd Images)

 

torben-grael-with-prize
3-teams-podium

First Place Ericsson 4 , Second Place PUMA Ocean Racing , And Third Place Telefonica Blue On The Podium (Photo by Rick Tomlinson /Volvo Ocean Race)

On Sunday night in St. Petersburg, the final prizegiving was an opportunity to remember and celebrate all that has happened on this magnificent adventure.

It was an emotional evening, with all of the teams, their families and friends finally able to truly relax after living in the pressure-cooker of the past nine months. It was also time to say goodbye, with most of the teams disbanding as early as Monday, airplane tickets taking them to all corners of the globe already in hand, booked months in advance.

The most poignant moment came with the inaugaral awarding of the Hans Horrevoets Rookie Trophy, which was created in memory of Hans, who was lost at sea during the last edition of the race. The Dutchman was washed over the side of ABN AMRO TWO on the transatlantic leg. He had played a key role in ABN AMRO’s unique and ambitious project to help young talent break into the top level of offshore sailing.

His wife, Petra, was on hand to present the award and her emotional speech saw even the most hardened of sailors wiping tears from their eyes.

The award was created to recognise a rookie sailor who was younger than 30 when the event commenced. Each skipper was asked to nominate a who has shown a significant drive to make an improvement to their own skills and to the skills of the team and who has shown a significant contribution in strengthening the team onboard. The Race Committee made a selection from those nominated.

Images by Rick Tomlinson and Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race

(click on image to enlarge)

The winner of the inaugural Hans Horrevoets Rookie Trophy is Michi Mueller from PUMA Ocean Racing, whom skipper Ken Read said had grown from a raw, untested rookie, into a linch-pin of the team.

It was a good night for PUMA as the Inmarsat Media Prize went to Rick Deppe, who was recognised for his outstanding work across the entire race. Deppe won the prize for leg 10 (his fourth win), as well as the overall prize (which included a cheque for 10,000 euros), and he was quick to pay tribute to his colleagues, asking all of the media crew members to join him on stage.

Presenting the prize, Perry Melton, COO, Inmarsat said: “The Volvo Ocean Race selected Fleet Broadband before its launch. They have described its global performance as flawless. We are delighted that the innovation of media crew members was paired with our newest service to deliver media coverage from the harshest of maritime conditions.”

The advent of the media crew members has allowed the race to secure HD footage that has never been recorded in past races, when regular crew were asked to to double duty as media men as well. In this race, the media crew members have not been allowed to participate in the sailing of the boat. As a result, they are more like ’embedded reporters’, bringing the true story of their teams to life.

Deppe wasn’t the only media crew recognised on the night. Green Dragon’s Guo Chaun was presented with a new market media award in recognition of the media interest generated across China.

The Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Seamanship Award was given to the PUMA Ocean Racing shore crew (Neil Cox, Sean Healey, Will Oxley and Kimo Worthington) for rending assistance to Telefonica Blue, after they ran aground at the start of Leg 9 in Marstrand.

And finally, to the sailing teams themselves. All eight teams were recognised for their achievements while Ericsson 4, the winner of the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race, was presented with the ‘Fighting Finish’ trophy by Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, patron of the Volvo Ocean Race; a just reward for a team that has dominated the competition, securing the overall title in Stockholm, with one in-port race, and one offshore leg to spare.

In closing the ceremonies, Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad paid tribute to his team in addition to all of the sailing teams and was already looking forward to the start of the next race, in 2011 in Alicante, Spain.

Following the formalities, the celebrations started in full force and continued long into the night and indeed well into the morning. With no more racing scheduled, there was no reason to stop the party. Until next time, this is, the end of the road.

Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 Prizes

 

 

Best 24-hour run – Ericsson 4, 596.6 nautical miles

Hans Horrevoets Rookie Trophy – Michi Mueller, PUMA Ocean Racing

Inmarsat Media Prize – Rick Deppe, PUMA Ocean Racing

Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Seamanship Award – PUMA Ocean Racing shore crew

Volvo Ocean Race, 3rd place – Telefonica Blue

Volvo Ocean Race, 2nd place – PUMA Ocean Racing

Volvo Ocean Race, 1st place – Ericsson 4

Ericsson 4 Finishing In St Petersburg (Photo by Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race)

Ericsson 4 Finishing In St Petersburg (Photo by Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race)

It was an historic moment tonight in St Petersburg, Russia, when as the
White Night turned to dawn the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, led by Telefónica
Black in a thrilling climax,  crossed the tenth and final finish line of
this nine-month, 37,000 nm race around the world.

Spanish skipper, Fernando Echávarri said, ³It¹s a prize for all the crew and
all the shore crew. We have been trying to do it in all the legs but
couldn¹t; this was our last chance. We had a nice battle with PUMA in the
last 100 miles. We are really happy.

“It has been really difficult. We prepared the boat for light conditions and
the first 150 miles we had more wind than expected so we suffered a lot.
Then it got lighter and we got faster. We have been fighting with PUMA,
Telefónica Blue and Ericsson 3 for the last 250 miles. It has been really
close. It has been like a match race. I don¹t know how many tacks we have
done! It is a great way to finish the Volvo Ocean Race. I am really proud of
everyone in the group. They have done an excellent job.”

Victory for Telefónica Black was hard-fought and a match race developed with
PUMA, who had led the fleet for the majority of this 400-mile sprint from
Stockholm.  At just after midnight GMT and while on the additional triangle
added to lengthen the course, Telefónica Black gained a small advantage,
which translated into a two and a half boat length win, denying PUMA a
second leg win in a row.  However, with a total of 105.5 points, PUMA takes
second place overall. 

PUMA skipper Kenny Read said: “Congratulations to all those guys, they have
worked very hard for their first leg win. We will take our second and our
second overall. You know what? We just sailed around the world. I guess I
said a thousand times that we know no other way but to make it hard for
ourselves.  It¹s a shame, because we usually win these close battles and
today we didn¹t.

“The big picture is we finished this race, everyone is safe and the boat has
been spectacular. We flew the flag well for Volvo and I think we flew the
flag well for PUMA. We have everything to be proud of. Relief is the right
word. Right now, it is relief and, as always, we are a pretty tired group
onboard. Let the celebrations begin because all the group deserves it.”

Images by Dave Kneale  and Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race

(click on image to enlarge )

 

Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED) filled the third spot both on leg 10 and
overall, to close the team¹s account on 98 points.

Bekking said on finishing: “We’re tired and hungry! It has been full on.
Lots of tacking. It was a beautiful leg in that it was sunny. But we have
been a bit unlucky. That¹s how it goes. But well done to the Telefónica
Black boys, they deserved to win. They had a superb leg. Good for them. We
were all very close. It is a very nice feeling to have finished and got all
the boys home safely. We had a podium finish which is nice as well.”

Fourth place finishers tonight and fourth overall with 78.5 points was
Ericsson 3 and Swedish skipper, Magnus Olsson was exhausted.   “I feel so
tired I cannot say anything! Everybody is happy because they have sailed
around the world, but they are also very tired. After a day or two we can
say more intelligent things. You always want to do well in every leg, but
this was special because it was the short one and the last one. We were up
there so we are happy, but we couldn¹t keep up until the finish. They beat
us fair and square.”

Runaway overall leaders, with a final tally of 114.5 points and nine points
clear of PUMA, Torben Grael and his 10 crew of Ericsson 4 finished this leg
in fifth place.  In an interview with Guy Swindells, skipper Torben Grael,
who raced every offshore leg with the same crew, was reflective in his
comments as overall victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 finally became a
reality.

“I think it is a mixed feeling because we know this is the end of the story
for the project. It¹s a funny feeling because some of these guys you have
never met before and you become like brothers. Now we go our own ways and
it¹s a strange feeling.

“On the other hand it has been a long race. It was a very long race around
the world. We are completely drained and tired so I think everyone is
looking forward to a nice rest. We have had a wonderful time. We enjoyed our
training time in Lanzarote and the race as well. We have had our ups and
downs, but it has been fun. After we won, it was a bit of a relaxing leg. It
has been so intense and so consuming so I think it is normal that after you
achieve your goals you relax. I am very glad for Telefónica Black and
Fernando and his guys for winning this last leg.”

Green Dragon kept her slender lead over Delta Lloyd to finish the leg in
sixth place, and fifth overall with 67 points.

To conclude the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, Delta Lloyd, the only generation
one Volvo Open 70 to compete in the race, finished shortly after Green
Dragon to finish the race on a total of 41.5 points. 

Skipper Roberto Bermúdez said: ³We made a good job and everyone enjoyed
their time. Everyone is happy and that is the most important thing. It
started well but then there was some fighting with the Dragons. They did a
fantastic job with the manoeuvres and I say congratulations to them for
that. It has been fun.²

Ian Walker, skipper of Green Dragon, should have the last word:

 ³It is a privilege to sail in this fantastic race and I am very proud to
have had the chance.  I am proud of every member of our team, and I am proud
of what we have achieved together.  We promised to give it everything and to
never, ever give up and that is exactly what we have done.  We haven¹t won
this race, but we have won many battles and achieved more than many dreamed
possible.  It has been a very special year.²

The full story of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 is chronicled in Mark
Chisnell¹s book, Spanish Castle to White Night, published in October.  Order
your copy now: http://www.volvooceanrace.org/multimedia/book/  

Overall Leaderboard (provisional)
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA): 114.5 points
2. PUMA (Ken Read/USA):  105.5 points
3. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED): 98.0 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE): 78.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR): 67.0 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP): 58.0
7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermudez/ESP): 41.5 points
8. Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT): 10.5 points

Leg Ten Finishing Order St Petersburg
1. Telefónica Black
2. PUMA
3. Telefónica Blue
4. Ericsson 3
5. Ericsson 4
6. Green Dragon
7. Delta Lloyd

Telefonica Black skippered by Fernando Echavarr Wins Leg 10 (Photo by Dave Kneale /  Volvo Ocean Race )

Telefonica Black skippered by Fernando Echavarr Wins Leg 10 (Photo by Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race )

Telefonica Black skippered by Fernando Echavarr

Telefonica  Wins Leg 10 of the Volvo Ocean Race In St Petersburg just minutes ago after a fierce battle  between them and PUMA Ocean Racing for the last miles of the race.

 TELEFONICA BLACK finished at  00:41:25 GMT – Elapsed leg time 1 day, 12 hours, 41 minutes 25 seconds – Total Race Time 87 days, 1 hour, 31 minutes 20 seconds

 

PUMA and Telefonica Black Neck and Neck Near St Petersburg Finish (Photo by Dave Kneale)

PUMA and Telefonica Black Neck and Neck Near St Petersburg Finish (Photo by Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race)

 

In  the final run-in to the finish, Telefonica Black on starboard crosses in front of PUMA by 2.5 boat-lengths, and allows PUMA to carry on out to the south and tack on what looks like a layline to the finish.

Telefonica Black tacks onto port, and now has to maintain enough of their early advantage to cross clear in front as they come back together, as Ken Read has the right of way now PUMA has tacked to starboard.

Telefonica Black crosses in front of PUMA and tacks. Ken Read goes for speed and tries to get through to leeward. Both boats can sail straight to the finish, so it’s all about who has their bow forward. It’s Telefonica Black, quicker, and pulling out to a couple of lengths lead. It’s Telefonica Black, taking Leg 10.

“It’s a prize for all of the crew, all of the shore crew. We have been trying to do it in all the legs but couldn’t; this was our last chance. We had a nice battle with PUMA in the last 100 miles. We are really happy.

“It has been really difficult. We prepared the boat for light conditions and the first 150 miles we had more wind than expected so we suffered a lot. Then it got lighter and we got faster. We have been fighting with PUMA and Blue and Ericsson for the last 250 miles. Really close. It has been like a match race. I don’t know how many tacks we have done! It is a great way to finish the Volvo Ocean Race. I am really proud of everyone in the group. They have done an excellent job.”

Stockholm to St. Petersbrg Leg Start (Photo By Dave Kneale)

Stockholm to St. Petersbrg Leg Start (Photo By Dave Kneale)

 

 

PUMA, who is now assured second place overall, led the Volvo fleet out of Sandhamn, on the outer edge of the Stockholm archipelago today – a spectacular day where conditions were perfect for the start of the tenth and final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 to St Petersburg in Russia.

Sailing confidently in 10 -12 knots of breeze, PUMA, Telefónica Blue and Ericsson 4 were the front runners off the start line and a huge spectator crowd needed no excuse to get out on the water and watch what these ocean greyhounds do best.  A steady breeze and flat water ensured plenty of white water spilled from the bows as the boats started a leg for the last time, fully powered up and under a cloudless sky. 

Start of Leg (Photo by Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

Start of Leg (Photo by Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Leading round both buoys marking the traditional ‘sausage’ before heading to out to sea, the crew of PUMA had set the black boat up perfectly and extended their lead, while behind, Bouwe Bekking’s bowmen wrestled with their heavy code zero sail, which had remained furled and unused on the bow and was slowing the blue boat down.  Green Dragon scorched past overall race winner Ericsson 4, who had the pressure put on by sister ship Ericsson 3, while Telefónica Black and Delta Lloyd were in the second string.

Team Russia joined the pack once the racing fleet had completed the inshore loop, to sail, but not to race, homewards to St Petersburg, with owner Oleg Zherebtsov working the bow as he did in the earlier legs of the race. 

 

Although speeds were good as the fleet left Sweden behind, the leg is expected to be predominantly upwind to Russia and race rules allow for Race Director, Jack Lloyd, to shorten the 400-mile course if necessary.  The fleet must arrive in St Petersburg on Saturday morning in order to clear customs and pass through two bridges, which will be raised specially in order to let the fleet into the historic city.

PUMA has now clinched second place overall, their performance improving hugely in the second half of the race.  Telefónica Blue will take third after losing the battle for second when they finished last in leg nine after going aground in Marstrand, while Ericsson 4 is the runaway leader, winning the race with a leg to spare.

Overall Leaderboard
1. Ericsson 4 (Torben Grael/BRA): 110.5 points
2. PUMA (Ken Read/USA):  98.5 points
3. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe Bekking/NED): 92.0 points
4. Ericsson 3 (Magnus Olsson/SWE): 73.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian Walker/GBR): 64.0 points
6. Telefónica Black (Fernando Echávarri/ESP): 50.0
7. Delta Lloyd (Roberto Bermudez/ESP): 39.5 points
8. Team Russia (Andreas Hanakamp/AUT): 10.5 points

 

TELEFÓNICA BLUE LEG TEN DAY 1 QFB:  received 25.6.09 2044 GMT

We just tacked with Ericsson 4 just few minutes after us. The last three hours have been a bit up and down, the wind was shifting quite a bit from something like 20 to 60 degrees TWD. The two Ericsson boats managed to  climb up quite well on us thanks to some lifting puffs and we did the  same thing to PUMA. We’re only 200 metres in front of Ericsson 4, nearly one mile in front of Ericsson 3 and same distance behind PUMA. We’re now all on port for another 30 minutes or so, after that we’ll all tack again towards the channel. Everyone is hiking hard pushing the boat. It’s going to be pretty long.

Gabri Olivo – MCM

GREEN DRAGON LEG TEN DAY 1 QFB:  received 25.06.09 1616 GMT

Here we go again – sailing upwind and slowly losing miles. I will not miss this when the race ends. Fortunately, it cannot last for days, as St Petersburg is less than 300 miles away.

What a great city Stockholm is – it is definitely another place on my list that I will need to come and visit again. That city is built to host maritime events and the Archipelago is built for cruising. After the long but picturesque motor to the start off Sandhamn, we made a good start to the leg and enjoyed holding off Ericsson 4 and others for a leg or two. Now everybody is engaged in a drag race on port tack and we are nearly halfway to Estonia. Hopefully, something will change in the weather at some point to shake up proceedings. For now, it is a question of doing the best we can to stay in touch with the other boats. The conditions are perfect with flat water, medium winds and sunshine – who knows maybe we can get to St Petersburg without getting wet?

Ian Walker – skipper

ERICSSON 3 LEG TEN DAY 1 QFB:  received 25.06.09 1800 GMT

I was a bit pessimistic in the first blog. I guess I was tired and Stockholm was too good to leave without a sad feeling. But once we got outside Sandhamn to the starting area, the mood got better.

Sun, flat water and 15 knots of breeze would make anyone happy.  Unfortunately, we did not come of the start line in a good way. We were stuck with no speed and our poor positioning did not improve by an override with the sheet for the headsail.  But we sorted it out quickly and once we had rounded the last mark, we were just a couple of metres after Ericsson 4, with PUMA and Telefónica Blue a bit further in front.

Now, at 1800, the positioning is pretty much the same. The Russians are behind us to leeward, Delta Lloyd and Green Dragon are straight to leeward. PUMA is still in front and Telefónica Blue and Ericsson 4 are following closely behind.

The most action-filled incident we had so far was when our Finnish guest had to jump overboard.   Mason helped her get the drysuit on, then he led her down to leeward, lifted her up and held her with one arm above the surface until he thought the chaseboat was close enough. Then he let her go. Splash and gone! You really understand why you don’t want to fall overboard from one of these boat. To turn around and pick someone up would just take ages
Magnus has cheered up a bit and is now smiling more. He still tired and he knows this will be though.  “It’s a bit of an anticlimax but we have to fight on and finish this race in a good way”, he says.

On the last legs we have had a big problem with tiredness. People just don’t get enough sleep. This time we are going to use the ‘standby watch’ system a bit more and everyone will get down to rest as soon as they can.

Gustav Morin – MCM

Fleet Rounding Mark (Photo by Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

Fleet Rounding Mark (Photo by Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race)

Skippers Before Start Of Last Leg ( Photo by Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race)

Skippers Before Start Of Last Leg ( Photo by Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race)

It was like the end of a school term at the skippers’ press conference in Stockholm today as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet prepares to tackle Leg 10, a final, short, sprint to the overall finish line in St. Petersburg.

With just 400 miles remaining in a race around the world that measures over 37,000 nautical miles, and the leaderboard almost entirely decided, the finish line – the real one – is now in sight.

One leaderboard duel does remain. With a maximum of eight points available to the winner of the leg, PUMA leads Telefonica Blue by 6.5 points in the battle to finish second overall in the race.

The forecast is promising for the start on Thursday afternoon. A light Northeasterly breeze of 8-10 knots is expected. But as the leg progresses, the wind is forecast to ease. It could be a long 400 miles.

“This weather forecast is not perfect for us,” said PUMA skipper Ken Read. “We don’t want it to turn into a light air crap shoot because anything can happen that way. Telefonica can go and win the leg by 100 miles if they want; (but) we just have to beat one boat.”

“I think, realistically, they have sewn it up,” countered Telefonica Blue skipper Bouwe Bekking. “But it’s yacht racing and hopefully they sail the wrong way, come last and we come first. There would be a lot written if that happened. We’ll certainly be pushing hard for a win.”

Also making an appearance at the press conference today was Team Russia skipper Stig Westergaard, who brought the Russian boat, Kosatka, into Stockholm last night. They haven’t competed since Leg 3 and the team is now engaged in a race against time to get rule compliant ahead of the start.

With Ericsson 4 having mathematically won the Volvo Ocean Race on the leg into Stockholm, the rest of the teams are sailing for pride. And, according to Telefonica Black skipper Fernando Echavarri, that will be motivation enough.

“This is the last chance we have to win a leg and we’ll try to do that,” he said. “It’s more about personal pressure and trying to finish with a leg win, rather than pressure on the overall standing. It’s going to be good (weather) conditions for our boats so we’ll try to do our best to arrive in St Petersburg in the top position.”

Ericsson 4 skipper Torben Grael agreed it will be a competitive race: “We all owe it to our sponsors to get a good result and we are all very competitive people. A win is important to us.”