The RORC Caribbean 600 fleet on the windward side of Antigua - Credit: RORC/Tim Wright

The RORC Caribbean 600 fleet on the windward side of Antigua – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright

 

The 8th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 started in spectacular style with the record 70 yacht fleet gathering in the starting area outside English Harbour, Antigua. Under the Pillars of Hercules, the magnificent collection of yachts started the 600 nmile race in a sublime 14 knot south-easterly breeze with brilliant sunshine. The conditions were enough to have the fleet fully ramped up and a not insignificant swell added to the excitement. Five highly competitive starts thrilled hundreds of spectators lining the cliffs at Shirley Heights and Fort Charlotte. Not only was this a record fleet for the RORC Caribbean 600, it was undoubtedly the highest quality of participants since the inaugural race in 2009.
CSA, IRC 2 & IRC 3 Start
24 yachts engaged in a pre-start peloton resulting in a tremendous battle for the line. The all-girl Sirens’ Tigress; IRC 2 champion, Scarlet Oyster and Polish team, Por Favor executed text book starts. However, winning the pin was American Swan 48, Isbjorn. Jua Kali also got away well which was marvellous for the British team who badly damaged their rig in the Atlantic en route to the start.
First to start the 2016 RORC Caribbean 600: CSA, IRC 2 and IRC 3 – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
IRC 1 & CLASS40
17 yachts started the race with American Sydney 43, Christopher Dragon winning the pin ahead of Canadian Farr 45, Spitfire. Spanish Tales II was the first Class40 to cross the line with Antiguan entry Taz also starting well. Belladonna, skippered by RORC Admiral, Andrew McIrvine had a great start controlling the favoured coastal side of the course.
IRC 1 and Class40 fleet at the start of the 8th RORC Caribbean 600 Race  – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
IRC Zero & IRC Canting Keel
The most impressive start in the eight-year history of the race featured 23 head-turning yachts. 115ft Baltic, Nikata tried to use her might to win the pin but encountered severe congestion, forcing the superyacht to round the wrong side of the pin. Lithuanian Volvo 60, Ambersail were overeager and with no room to bear away, sailed around the pin end buoy. Irish Cookson 50, Lee Overlay Partners was adjudged OCS and had to restart. Dutch Ker 51, Tonnerre 4 with octogenarian owner Piet Vroon on board had a cracking start, as did Hap Fauth’s Maxi72, Bella Mente going for speed and heading for the lift off the cliffs. Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze Clark’s, 100ft Maxi had a slightly conservative run-up to the line before the big winches growled in a dial-down and Comanche powered up, accelerating into the lead.
The IRC Zero and IRC Canting Keel fleet made an impression at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 – Credit: RORC/Emma Louise Wyn Jones
Superyacht
The penultimate start featured two of the largest yachts competing in the RORC Caribbean 600. Southernwind 102 Farfalla executed a textbook start to begin the 600-nmile race, assisted by a crew including Steve Hayles as navigator, winner of the race with Niklas Zennstrom’s RAN in 2012. The magnificent sight of 178ft schooner Adix crossing the line under full sail drew gasps from the crowd ashore. Adix is the first three-masted schooner to take part in the race.
The magnificent three-masted schooner Adix at the start – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
MOCRA Multihull
Six Multihulls including MOD70s Phaedo3 & Concise 10 lined up for the last start of the day. Phaedo3 and Concise 10 locked horns in the pre-start as expected, with Phaedo3 co-skippered by Lloyd Thornburg and Brian Thompson gaining a small but significant advantage at the start. Concise 10 had to tack offshore to escape bad air and ploughed through several spectator boats that had gathered close to the exclusion zone. The two MOD70s are expected to have a titanic battle over the next two days. Belgian Zed 6 reported a broken daggerboard before the start but managed a repair in time to begin the race.
With a south-easterly breeze the fleet took a long starboard tack to Green Island where they bore away for Barbuda hoisting downwind sails. The sleigh ride has already begun for Comanche, Phaedo3 and Concise 10 with the YB tracker already showing the trio hitting close to 30 knots of boat speed. The wind is expected to return to the east before morning and freshen to a possible 20 knots when many more of this magnificent fleet will be enjoying the magic carpet ride of strong trade winds.
Phaedo3 flying two hulls past Willoughby Bay, Antigua – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
Watching the start from the cliffs at Shirley Heights was RORC Chief Executive Eddie Warden Owen who could not help but marvel at the quality of the fleet: “This is an amazing collection of boats sailed by the best offshore sailors in the world and was shown by the intensity of the start. Each fleet battled for the outer favoured end of the line, caused by the wind being south of its normal easterly direction. No one held back,” said Warden Owen “And I am surprised we only had one boat over the line at the start. The lighter wind increasing as the week goes on, could favour a small boat for an overall win under the IRC rating rule. It will be fun to watch, but I’d much prefer to be out there racing.”
Hundreds of spectators watched the start of the 8th RORC Caribbean 600 from ashore and on the water Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
For more information visit the RORC Caribbean 600 mini-site: www.caribbean600.rorc.org
High resolution images will be available from the race for editorial use and requests for specific interviews/photographs/video should be made to: press@rorc.org
RACE MINISITE: Follow the race on the minisite: http://caribbean600.rorc.org
Keep up to date with all the news. There will be blogs from the boats themselves on the race course, images, video and daily race reports. Follow the action as it unfolds on the RORC Caribbean 600 website.
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TRACK THE FLEET:
Every yacht is fitted with a race tracker and their progress can be followed on the race website: http://caribbean600.rorc.org/Tracking/2016-fleet-tracking.html
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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.”

Team Russia At Sea  (Photo by Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race )

Team Russia At Sea (Photo by Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race )

A familiar face is on the horizon. Team Russia are on their way to Stockholm with the intention of taking part in the leg 10 sprint to their home port of St Petersburg, Russia.

In what  amounts to a race against time for the team, who are currently at sea en route from Gothenburg and expect to be in Stockholm by Tuesday afternoon or evening. The leg 10 start is on Thursday

The team suspended racing in Singapore after leg three as a consequence of insufficient funds, and have since been trying to source funding to resume.

In the meantime, they have largely changed their management and crew – Stig Westergaard has taken over from Andreas Hanakamp as skipper and, along with founder Oleg Zherebtsov, is the only returning member of the sailing team – and they now face a difficult task in being declared eligible to race.

Race Director Jack Lloyd said  “We haven’t seen the boat since Christmas time when they left Singapore so we have no idea of the state of the electronics or the measurement condition of the boat. She just has to comply with the rules, like any other boat. All other boats have to maintain the boat in measurement trim and their crew have to qualify. They just have to go through that process.

“Their old crew has disbanded so probably about eight of them – if they want to take a full crew – have to take a safety course. We have got to do medicals and a little bit of other training, plus we have to get the boat back into measurement trim and get all the electronics done.”

Dee Caffari, Sam Davies, Alex Sizer (Photo Courtesy of www.deecaffari.co.uk)

Dee Caffari, Sam Davies, Miranda Merron and Alex Sizer (Photo Courtesy of www.deecaffari.co.uk)

 

Dee Caffari and her all female crew onboard Aviva crossed the finish line at 0840 hrs this morning to break the record for sailing around Britain and Ireland by 17 hours and 16 minutes. The journey took them 6 days, 11 hours, 30 minutes and 53 seconds.

Skipper Dee Caffari commented:

“The outright speed record was always our goal and I am ecstatic that we accomplished our aim. In sport, as in many areas of life, choosing the right team is vital to success and over the last six days, Aviva has had a strong, focussed team aboard pushing her every inch of the course. We have all given it 110% and clear communication has played a key part in this achievement. It has very much been a team effort and having the other three girls with me has been a blast.”

The all female crew left Gosport last Monday 15th June and crossed the official start line off Ventnor on the Isle of Wight at 21:09:36, before embarking anti-clockwise on their 2500 mile journey. With changeable conditions throughout the record attempt, Caffari and her crew slipped either side of the required record pace on a daily basis. A high pressure front in the English Channel saw Aviva slow significantly with 450 miles to go but, with enough distance banked under the more favourable weather conditions, Caffari and her crew were able to maintain a sufficient lead to finish inside of the required record pace.

Samantha Davies added:

“It was fantastic to be onboard Aviva for this record breaking trip. We pushed ourselves and the boat hard but it was definitely worth it to finish inside the record. I think I’m almost as exhausted after this trip as I was after the Vendée Globe – although that’s probably as much from the constant chatting as the sailing!”

Joining Caffari and Davies on board Aviva for the record were fellow Brits, offshore sailor Miranda Merron and boat captain Alex Sizer. In the process of breaking the outright record, Caffari and her crew also set a record time for an all female crew. The previous record had stood at 10 days and 16 hours and was set by Samantha Davies and her crew onboard Roxy in June 2007.

CONGRATULATIONS DEE, SAM, MIRANDA AND ALEX