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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the highlight video here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante — Results

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

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

Skipper Ken Read During Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 (Photo by George Bekris)

Skipper Ken Read During Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 (Photo by George Bekris)

Today Ken Read, skipper of PUMA Ocean Racing, announced his core crew and management team for the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012. The team departs Alicante, Spain today to bring il mostro, PUMA Ocean Racing’s boat that secured a 2nd place finish in the last Volvo Ocean Race, back to Newport, Rhode Island where the team will immediately start training for the next race. il mostro will serve as the team’s training boat until a new boat, which will compete in the 2011-12 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, is completed.

PUMA has named Juan Yacht Design, of Valencia, Spain as the lead boat designer of the new PUMA Ocean Racing yacht. Juan Kouyoumdjian’s designs have a perfect record in the VOR since the inception of the Volvo Open 70 Rule. They are credited with designing the 2006 VOR winner, ABN AMRO 1 and the 2009 VOR winner, Ericsson 4.

“The decision to go with Juan to design PUMA’s new boat was a major step forward for the program, and set in motion a number of key hires that have formed the nucleus of the team,” said Skipper Ken Read.

Two new key members of the team include multiple Volvo Ocean Race winners, Brad Jackson and Tony Mutter. Each sailor was integral to the winning teams in both the 2006 and 2009 races. Jackson is a three-time winner of the VOR and will serve as design coordinator for PUMA Ocean Racing, mixing the sailing team’s input with Juan Kouyoumdjian’s creative and technical expertise. Mutter is a two-time VOR winner and will run the aero program, working closely with Steve Calder of North Sails and mast designer, Scott Ferguson. While sailing, Tony and Brad will also serve as watch captains. Returning from PUMA’s 2009 campaign is bowman and systems manager Casey Smith. “When the boat breaks offshore Casey has to fix it, so having him be part of design process with the build team early on will save us a lot with durability down the road,” explained Read. Rob Greenhalgh also rejoins the PUMA crew after being a late but welcomed addition in the last race. Returning shore-team members include: Kimo Worthington, General Manager, and Tim Hacket, who will serve as the Shore Team Manager.

New sailing team members include navigator Tom Addis (Telefonica Blue co-navigator), Jono Swain (Telefonica Blue watch captain) and Andrew Lewis (Rambler trimmer and ABN AMRO 2 tactician). “The decisions we make now are the ones that will create success in this race, and having this team of veterans involved early certainly increases our chances to make proper decisions,” said Read of the team assembled so far. “Not only do we have a team that can sail a boat fast, but we have a team that understands what it takes to compete in a race like the Volvo. Great attitudes, great skills, which hopefully increases our chances for success.”

Cumulatively, the management and sailing team for PUMA Ocean Racing shares a level of success difficult to match with 20 Volvo Ocean Race entries and 14 America’s Cup editions. Collectively, the core team holds eight 24-hour mono hull speed records.The Volvo Ocean Race begins October 2011 in Alicante, Spain and ends in Galway, Ireland in June 2012. The eight stopovers in between include: Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya (China), Auckland, Itajaí (Brazil), Miami, Lisbon and Lorient (France). PUMA continues to produce and expand their line of sailing performance gear and remains the first Sportlifestyle company to participate in a venture of this kind. PUMA will also be the official supplier of all Volvo Ocean Race merchandise.

PUMA's IL Mostro (Photo by George Bekris)

PUMA's IL Mostro (Photo by George Bekris)

PUMA Ocean Racing Sailing Team:

Ken Read, 48 (Rhode Island, United States)
Considered to be one of the world’s most accomplished racers, Read was in charge of PUMA Ocean Racing and at the helm of PUMA’s il mostro throughout the entire Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009. The U.S.-born Read has twice helmed America’s Cup programs in 2000 and 2003 and was named “United States Rolex Yachtsman of the Year” twice and has 46 World, North American and National Championships to his credit.

Tom Addis, 40 (Sydney, Australia)
Addis, a trained meteorologist, joins PUMA as a navigator after sailing with Telefonica Blue during the Volvo, taking two leg wins. Tom has sailed thousands of offshore miles onboard Maxi Alfa Romero, winning both Sydney-Hobart and Transpac races. Addis also sailed with America’s Cup Team New Zealand in 2007.

Rob Greenhalgh, 32 (Hamble, United Kingdom)
Helmsman & Trimmer
2009 18’ Skiff World Champion, Greenhalgh is back with PUMA after joining the crew during the 08/09 race. Greenhalgh was a vital part of PUMA’s last campaign and served as tactician for Ken Read during in port racing and watch captain offshore. Rob has sailed two previous Volvo Ocean Races and was part of the crew, along with Tony Mutter and Brad Jackson, who won the race with ABN AMRO 1 during the 05/06 edition of the race.

Brad Jackson: 42 (Auckland, New Zealand)
Design Coordinator & Watch Captain
Named New Zealand Sailor of the Year in 2009, Jackson has sailed the Volvo Ocean Race five times, numerous Sydney-Hobarts, Fastnets and Trans-Atlantics. Jackson was a member of the Ericsson 4 boat that won the VOR 2008-2009 and has been part of three 24-hour monohull speed records. In addition to his role as watch captain, Jackson will serve as design coordinator for the PUMA program, mixing the sailors’ input with Juan K’s creative and technical expertise.

Andrew “Junior” Lewis: 27 (Honolulu, United States)
Trimmer & Driver
Lewis will be one of the three under-30 sailors onboard PUMA’s new boat. Lewis has logged thousands of offshore miles, sailing onboard ABN AMRO 2 during the VOR 05/06 race and on Rambler during the record breaking Transatlantic Race and Middle Sea races. Lewis also has a long list of honors for inshore racing ranging from the Laser Class and America’s Cup. He was part of the monohull record-breaking crew of ABN AMRO 2 during the 05/06 race.

Tony Mutter, 41 (Auckland, New Zealand)
Aerodynamics Coordinator & Watch Captain
Mutter joins PUMA after sailing onboard Volvo Ocean Race 08/09 winner Ericsson 4. Mutter has sailed five Volvos, five Fastnet Races and five Maxi Worlds. He has been part of three Volvo crews where the 24-hour monohull record has been broken. As aerodynamics coordinator, he will work closely with North Sails to design the next generation of VO70 sails. Tony will sail onboard for PUMA as watch captain.

Casey Smith, 31 (Brisbane, Australia)
Systems Manager & Bowman
Smith joined the crew of PUMA’s il mostro for the Volvo Ocean Race 08/09 as one of the under 30’s. Smith was instrumental in repairing structural damages to il mostro during the last race. And was honored for the sportsmanship award for his efforts in replacing il mostro’s rudder during the Leg 7 Trans-Atlantic crossing. Smith has sailed the 08/09 Volvo Ocean Race and numerous Sydney-Hobart races and Trans-Atlantic crossings.

Jonathan “Jono” Swain, 43 (Durban, South Africa)
Helmsman & Trimmer
Jono Swain comes to PUMA with experience in four Volvo Ocean Races, most recently as watch captain onboard Telefonica Blue. Swain is considered an “all around sailor,” mixing offshore experience with an impressive inshore resume which includes and America’s Cup campaign, Louis Vuitton Series and trimming on Mean Machine.

PUMA Ocean Racing Shore Team Management:

Kimo Worthington, 50 (California, United States)
General Manager
Kimo Worthington has a rare combination of management expertise onshore and leadership on the water. His professional sailing career includes competing in six America’s Cups, including a win with America3 in 1992, and numerous offshore miles. In the 1997-98 Whitbread Round the World Race, Worthington was watch captain and sailing team manager for the winning EF Language team. In the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006 edition he served as General Manager for second place Pirates of the Caribbean and in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009 he was general manager for PUMA Ocean Racing.

Tim Hacket, 38 (Sydney, Australia)
Shore Team Manager
Tim Hacket has been building racing yachts for over 20 years. A native Australian, Tim is now based in Newport, Rhode Island. Tim’s experience includes four America’s Cup boat builds and two Volvo Ocean Race shore teams, mostly recently as part of PUMA’s Volvo 2008/09 campaign.

PUMA's IL Mostro In Boston Harbor (Photo by George Bekris)

PUMA's IL Mostro In Boston Harbor (Photo by George Bekris)

ICAP Leopard (Photo by Alan Carville)

ICAP Leopard (Photo by Alan Carville)

 ICAP Leopard was the  first home at the 2009 Rolex Middle Sea Race taking the award for line honours. Try as they might, Mike Slade’s all-star crew were unable to crack the nut that is Rambler’s course record. Arriving just before midday at the Royal Malta Yacht Club line in Marsamxett Harbour, the 100-foot Farr designed supermaxi was just over half an hour outside the mark set by George David and Ken Read two years ago. She had made a tremendous effort never straying far from the pace required despite less than perfect conditions.

Slade  believes they raced as well as they could. He was quick to acknowledge that for every frustration they may have encountered this year, Rambler was sure to have suffered in some similar way herself in 2007. Asked if he could identify any points on the course they could have made up the wayward 30 minutes, he replied wryly, “at least twenty.”

ICAP Leopard‘s record attempt was always in the balance the moment they crossed the start line. They gave it a good go though, relishing a promising forecast. Slade was quick to compliment his crew on a job well done, “it’s fantastic to have finished this tough race. The record was tantalisingly close, but the important thing is that we achieved our goal of getting line honours and bringing the boat home in one piece. The crew were fantastic and our reception in Malta has been amazing – what a wonderful event!”

Even if one sails the boat to its full potential and suffer no breakages, success is still dependent upon the weather. Completing the 606 nautical mile Rolex Middle Sea Race in less than 48 hours is well within the capability of a canting keeled, water ballasted flying machine staffed by some of the world’s top inshore and offshore yacht racing specialists. Brad Jackson, Jules Salter and Guy Salter were all on the winning boat in the last Volvo Ocean Race. Rob Greenhalgh raced on the second placed yacht, whilst Justin Slattery raced on the winning boat in the previous VOR. Jason Carrington has probably built more race winning boats than there have been Rolex Middle Sea Races. Sailmaker Jeremy Elliott is another who has raced around the world and at the America’s Cup. Hugh Agnew navigated the winning yacht at the 2004 Rolex Sydney Hobart. And, in case anyone needed reminding, Mike Slade has moulded teams around him and raced at the grand-prix level of the sport on a variety of state of the art maxi yachts since the early 1990s, invariably with the reassuring hand of Chris Sherlock to run the boat. Experience and ability were two things in plentiful supply. What kept holding Leopard back was the vagaries of the wind.

Slade explained how the race had unfolded, “this race is very special. It always is. It is a tough race and a great race, but any race that goes round in a circle is going to have lots of pitfalls. You are seeing land all the time and you suffer all the things that happen because of the land. There’s a saying that Etna sucks wind out of the Strait and it was true for us. We got stuck in its shadow. We got through and punched on towards Stromboli and that’s where the problems really started.” It was here that the mini maxis Rosebud/Team DYT (USA) and Bella Mente (USA) dropped by the wayside in dramatic fashion on Sunday. Since then some twenty other competing yachts have followed these two into the sickbay as strong gusting winds lashed the northeastern corner of Sicily for a 36-hour period.

“After Stromboli was tough,” comments Slade. “We had 5 or 6 hours of real weather front. We’re a big strong boat and can cope with it. In fact we were hoping to get more of the same at the bottom of the course.” This hope never fully materialised, as he went on to explain. “It took 12 hours to get across to the Egadi Islands and it was only then on the way down to Pantelleria that we started putting on some real boat speed. It was bump, bang, everyone hold on. We would have liked it to carry on down to Lampedusa, but it just didn’t happen. There was no wind there of any consequence.” At this point Leopard was only 75-minutes off Rambler’s blistering pace. Munching the miles to Comino was something this boat was born to do. But she needs wind. Slade had said before the start that 20 knots of wind and flat water would be ideal. What he got for the final long leg was sloppy water and soft winds bouncing between 12 and 18 knots.

Fever (Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo)

Fever (Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo)

“It was a struggle to get back from Lampedusa to Comino,” continued Slade. “And it was a struggle to get into the harbour because the wind was dead aft and we had to do some monumental gybes.” Philosophical in defeat, if line honours in a second successive 600-mile race may be described as such (ICAP Leopard had been first home at the Rolex Fastnet in August), Slade admitted asking himself several times where they could have saved the deal-breaking thirty-minutes. He was adamant that there were any number of places and not one thing in particular could be blamed, adding “that’s yacht racing and we’ll have to do it again now, won’t we!” Malta cannot wait.

The wait for the next boat home was a short one. Just as during the Rolex Fastnet, Karl Kwok’sBeau Geste (HKG) had been shadowing her bigger rival for the whole course, waiting for a chink in the armour that might let her snatch the lead. Skipper Gavin Brady, tactician Francesco de Angelis and navigator Andrew Cape are a deep-filled talent pool, but even they found the conditions testing. Brady is a tough customer, but even he acknowledged the severity of the situation after Stromboli on Saturday night/Sunday morning, “up until then we had been concentrating on getting away from the competition, but when the weather struck we were glad to have some company. We were in survival mode for some time.” The small boats have been reporting difficulties with sail changes at night as bandit squalls struck without warning. Cape confirmed Beau Geste had struggled with this too, particularly as they turned the corner at Favignana, “we had the wrong sail combination up, which caused us to lose a bit of time. In those conditions it can take around an hour to execute a sail change on a boat this size.”

De Angelis was able to throw some humour into the situation describing an incident on board where coming off a wave Cape somersaulted across the cabin to land on top of him, “I have raced against Capey for a long time, but at this moment I got to know him very well!” Karl Kwok is coming to the end of this season’s European adventure, which has seen him and his crew impress at a number of major races and regattas. “We are very happy with the way the boat held up in the conditions. Like others from the [United] States we came to Europe to race because the competition is so good. We’ve not been disappointed.”

With two boats tied up in the harbour we have a yacht race. When Beau Geste crossed the line at 15.28 she moved into pole position on handicap. Her moment in the spotlight was short lived. Alegre (GBR) finished at 18.33 and moved back into a lead that she has held since Stromboli. Neither Rán (GBR) nor Luna Rossa (ITA) were in a position to dislodge her when they finished. Intermatica VO70 (ITA) won the battle of the two Volvo boats, beating Ericsson (SWE) on handicap although not on the water.

The bulk of the fleet is still racing. 23 yachts have now retired citing various reasons, mostly sail and equipment damage resulting from the vicious squalls that persisted until midday today. Next boat home will be DSK Pioneer Investments (ITA), which is halfway between Lampedusa and Malta. After that we are in for a long wait as the competing yachts struggle down the western edge of the course. Seven yachts including the two remaining double-handers have yet to pass Capo San Vito at the northwestern point of Sicily. The forecast shows winds to be remaining from the northwest during the next twelve hours, but lightning up considerably. The smaller yachts are in for a long slog home and those yachts safely back in port will be feeling happier by the hour.

Sailing Past Faviganana (Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo)

Sailing Past Faviganana (Photo by Rolex/Kurt Arrigo)

Hugo Boss     (Photo courtesy of Alex Tompson Racing)

Hugo Boss (Photo courtesy of Alex Thomson Racing)

 British solo round the world sailor Alex Thomson will be joined by a host of talent onboard the newly re-fitted Open 60 HUGO BOSS for the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race. Joining him onboard will be former Olympic skier and adventurer Graham Bell, Sir Keith Mills (Head of the British America’s Cup campaign Team Origin and founder of the Air Miles International Group) and Rob Greenhalgh, twice veteran of the Volvo Ocean Race and recently crowned Skiff World Champion. Navigator Andrew Cape will also join the crew for the race. Andrew ‘aka Capey’, recently completed his sixth lap of the planet alongside Rob onboard PUMA Ocean Racing during the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. Capey is no stranger to Alex Thomson or HUGO BOSS, after securing second place in the Barcelona World Race with Alex in 2007. Completing the crew line up is the man who will be preparing the boat for the Fastnet Race, HUGO BOSS boat captain Ross Daniel.

The world famous event will kick off on Sunday 9th August from Cowes on the Isle of Wight. The 600 nautical mile race will see a fleet of 300 head along the English Channel and out towards the famous Fastnet Rock on the Southern tip of Ireland, the fleet will then turn around and head back to the finish in Plymouth.

Graham who is a totally novice sailor will undertake a sea survival course ahead of the race. The race has been running for 89 years and attracts a range of sailors of all levels. It was brought to national attention in 1979 after an extreme storm swept through the Irish Sea, 15 crew as well as 4 from the trimaran shadowing the race and two from a cruising yacht, tragically died. Only 85 boats finished, 194 retired, and 24 boats were abandoned.

“I am excited about the prospect of sailing with Alex and his crew for the Fastnet, I am certainly in great company and hope that everything goes to plan. This is certainly one of the most adventurous things I have ever done,” said Graham.

This will be the first race onboard HUGO BOSS after Alex was forced to retire from the Vendée Globe in December last year, the Open 60 has undergone a full re-fit at Endeavour Quays in Gosport.

“I’m really excited to get back out racing again. I think we have a great crew lined up, and it will be fantastic to have Capey step onboard again. I am sure Graham will enjoy every minute of this historic race, seeing the Fastnet Rock for the first time is one of those special moments in sailing that I’m sure he won’t forget. I’m looking forward to a good race and hopefully a good result,” commented Alex.

The Fastnet Race will take place on 9th August, starting at Cowes and finishing in Plymouth. The first boats are expected to finish on 11 August, weather dependent. The current course record is held by Mike Slade’s 100-foot super maxi ICAP Leopard standing at 1 day, 20 hours, and 18 minutes.