Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo © George Bekris)

 

In a thrilling winner-take-all final race, Emirates Team New Zealand unhooked itself from a starting buoy to win the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series New York with the high score of 52 points.

Another large crowd, estimated at 100,000, turned out on a sunny day and was treated to some very unpredictable racing. This after over 75,000 came out on Saturday.

Watch a recap here

 

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

No lead was ever safe on Sunday as the wind shifted through wide arcs from the west to the north and ranged anywhere from 5 to 20 knots.

“It was one of those series where everyone had good luck and bad luck, but we got our good luck at the end of the regatta,” said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Glenn Ashby. “It was exciting and crazy at the same time. Today it was important to keep your cool and stay focused.”

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

The Kiwi crew, led by Ashby and World Sailor of the year and Red Bull Youth America’s Cup champion helmsman Peter Burling, was literally dead in the water at the start of Race 3. Crewman Blair Tuke had to jump in the water to unhook the starting buoy’s anchor line from the catamaran’s rudder. Making matters worse, the port hull was punctured by the buoy and water was leaking into the hull throughout the race.

“We saw the buoy coming at us with about 20 seconds to go,” said Ashby. “It wasn’t ideal but we were lucky in the end.”

 

The Kiwi crew’s luck came full circle on the next-to-last leg. They rounded the last windward mark in fifth place, about 42 seconds behind leading SoftBank Team Japan. But as all the crews began the downwind leg they sailed into a patch of no wind that engulfed the course.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

As the leg was perpendicular to the southerly flowing current, some of the crews were being swept over the course boundary. Land Rover BAR, Groupama Team France and SoftBank Team Japan all were penalized for crossing the boundary in the current.

The Kiwis, further behind, held in the middle of the course and when the wind filled in the Kiwis took off on their hydrofoils at 16 to 20 knots boatspeed, leaving the rest of the fleet gasping in disbelief.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

At one point during the final race ORACLE TEAM USA looked to be in position to win. Skipper Jimmy Spithill and crew won the start and led around the first two mark roundings. But Dean Barker’s SoftBank Team Japan grabbed the lead by working the right side of the course while ORACLE TEAM USA struggled on the right side. In the end the reigning America’s Cup champion placed second in the race and second for the series.

“The crowd was insane,” said Spithill. “Today was great for the fans. In these conditions you have to roll with the punches and keep fighting. We wanted to win but we’ll take the second place. The Kiwis got a Hail Mary there at the end, but you have to take your hat off to them and congratulate them.”

Third went to Franck Cammas’ Groupama Team France, winner of Race 2. SoftBank Team Japan placed fourth, Land Rover BAR fifth and Artemis Racing sixth.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

Illustrating just how challenging the day was on the short, confined racecourse, Nathan Outteridge’s crew won the first race going away but was then sixth in Races 2 and 3.

“We got a little bit of luck in the first race and managed to hold on, but we had some terrible moments in the last two races…” said Outteridge. “You can’t get people to come watch sailing if you don’t bring it to them. That’s what we’ve done here. When the America’s Cup is in Bermuda next year, in super high-tech boats, we’ll get some amazing racing.”

The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series now moves onto Chicago, June 10-12. After that it heads to Europe for events in the U.K. in July and France in September.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series New York Final Standings

1. Emirates Team New Zealand – 52 points
2. ORACLE TEAM USA – 50 points
3. Groupama Team France – 44 points
4. SoftBank Team Japan – 42 points
5. Land Rover BAR – 42 points
6. Artemis Racing – 40 points

 

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Overall Standings
(After six events)

1. Emirates Team New Zealand – 244 points
2. ORACLE TEAM USA – 236 points
3. Land Rover BAR – 227 points
4. SoftBank Team Japan – 203 points
5. Artemis Racing – 201 points
6. Groupama Team France – 194 points

 

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

 

 

October 4, 2014. Team Alvimedica wins the In-Port Race in Alicante.

Young Guns from October 4, 2014. Team Alvimedica wins the In-Port Race in Alicante, Spain. Launching the start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

–      American newcomer leaves experienced rivals in wake

–       Catch all the latest Volvo Ocean Race action here

–       And don’t forget to play our great new Official Race Game

ALICANTE, Spain, Oct 4 – Charlie Enright’s smile said it all as he led his young Team Alvimedica crew to victory in the opening skirmish of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 on Saturday.

There’s a long, long way to go and the Alicante in-port race success does not even count towards the offshore overall trophy apart from as a tie-breaker in the case of teams finishing level on points.

But as a confidence-builder for the Turkish/American team, you could hardly beat victory under bright blue skies and 14-knot winds in front of thousands of fans who thronged the Alicante harbour.

Enright was impressively poised afterwards. “Surprised that we’re able to do well? Not that much. We’ve had some good practice, the guys have been working really hard on maneuvres and we’re happy with the win,” he said.

“We haven’t done anything that counts for the overall trophy yet, but it’s a confidence builder, it gives us the feeling that we can do well again.”

Enright (USA), 30, and his right-hand man Mark Towill (USA) know all about fairytale starts after hatching a dream to one day compete in offshore racing’s leading event on the film set of the Disney movie, Morning Light, some seven years ago.

The realisation of that ambition took a lot of determination and the hammering on doors of countless sponsors before Turkish surgical instrument manufacturer Alvimedica CEO Cem Bozkurt finally saw potential in them and supported their campaign.

On the face of Saturday’s surprise result, that confidence could be richly repaid, although it’s obviously very early days.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, winners of the 2011 Alicante in-port race, were denied a repeat triumph by a mere five seconds in just over 14 knots of wind with Spanish entrants MAPFRE third a further 25 seconds adrift.

Generally, the racing could barely have been tighter in almost perfect conditions for sailing and the lead changed hands several times after a storming start with China’s Dongfeng Race Team grabbing the early initiative.

Team Brunel (NED) eventually pipped them for fourth spot with Team SCA’s all-women crew (SWE) leaving Team Vestas Wind (DEN) comfortably behind to take sixth.

Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town begins next Saturday. In all, the boats will cover 38,739 nautical miles over nine months before the adventure finishes in Gothenburg, Sweden on June 27, 2015. They will visit 11 ports in all, including a pit-stop in The Hague.

Alicante in-port race results:

1. Team Alvimedica (Turkey/USA) 14:52:02 – 1pt

2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 14:52:07 – 2pts

3. MAPFRE (Spain) 14:52:27 – 3pts

4. Team Brunel (The Netherlands) 14:52:48 – 4pts

5. Dongfeng Race Team (China) 14:53:14 – 5pts

6. Team SCA (Sweden) 14:53:51  – 6pts

7. Team Vestas Wind (Denmark) 14:55:24 – 7pts

 

eam Energy Crosses finish in Venice

eam Energy Crosses finish in Venice

Loïck Peyron continued to demonstrate the form he has shown all week, leading his Energy Team to a spectacular win on the final day of America’s Cup World Series racing in Venice. Peyron and his French crew have been perched atop the leaderboard all four days this week, demonstrating an impressive command of the Grand Canal race area.

“I think the lighter conditions were good for us,” Peyron, the veteran multihull sailor, said. “I’m used to this kind of tricky game, trying to be as cool as possible. The pressure was in the red zone, but it made for an exciting race for sure. This was a big victory for us. We are a small team, and hopefully this is just the beginning.”

Winds were exceptionally light on Sunday, turning the San Marco race course into perhaps the most challenging one the teams have faced in the World Series to date. The smallest puffs of wind were rewarded with dramatic bursts of speed, leading to teams quickly moving up and down the race leaderboard on the first lap of the course, the positions changing from minute to minute.

Early in the race, on the first long downwind leg, Peyron proved to be the best at finding a clear lane and escaped clear ahead of the fleet, with ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill following suit a few moments later.

While the French built what seemed to be an insurmountable lead, Spithill kept the pressure on, closing the gap right down to the point where the result wasn’t secure until the final gybe on the finishing line. As the horn sounded to signal victory, Peyron collapsed on the trampoline of his boat in dramatic relief, while his crew celebrated around him.

Loick Peyron 34th America's Cup - America's Cup World Series Venice 2012 - Final race day  (Photo © ACEA 2012/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget)

Loick Peyron 34th America's Cup - America's Cup World Series Venice 2012 - Final race day (Photo © ACEA 2012/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget)

In contrast to the leaders, the bulk of the fleet had trouble separating themselves and at one point became trapped in a very slow pile-up at one of the turning marks, with too many boats trying to squeeze between the mark and the nearby shoreline at the same time.

Terry Hutchinson’s Artemis Racing popped out of that incident in third place, with Emirates Team New Zealand chasing them around the race course – even closing enough to incur a penalty for a slow motion collision – before Artemis regained the advantage to lead the Kiwis across the line.

Meanwhile the rest of the fleet was too far back to finish within the time limit and were scored as ‘did not finish’, earning no points on the day.

Earlier in the afternoon, and for the second consecutive event, Artemis Racing defeated Chris Draper’s Luna Rossa-Piranha to win the Match Racing Championship. In the light, shifty, and tricky conditions, Hutchinson and his crew won the start and protected a narrow lead early before stretching away in the middle of the race for a hard-earned victory.

“We’ve had a good result in Naples and now here, in quite different conditions,” Hutchinson said. “The nice thing about the match racing at these regattas is we’ve executed on our game plan. We’re starting to feel with the training in the boat that it’s paying off for us.”

The results in Venice see ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill gain some breathing room on the overall AC World Series leaderboard over Emirates Team New Zealand. The Kiwis will also now be looking over their shoulders, with Artemis Racing closing in as well, nine points further back.

“We came here with a one-point lead over Emirates Team New Zealand. We’re leaving with a four-point lead,” said Spithill as he looked ahead to Newport. “That’s the important thing. I’m happy with how the team did. Obviously we’ve got a lot to work on but there’s no question we’ll be ready for Newport.”

The final event of the 2011-12 AC World Series will take place next month in Newport, Rhode Island from June 26 through July 1, 2012. At the conclusion of racing in Newport, the 2011-12 AC World Series champion will be crowned.

2011-12 AC World Series Overall Championship Leaderboard (after five of six events)
1.    ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill…84 points
2.    Emirates Team New Zealand…80 points
3.    Artemis Racing…71 points
4.    Energy Team…65 points
5.    Team Korea…56 points
6.    ORACLE TEAM USA Bundock…53 points
7.    Luna Rossa Piranha…34 points
8.    China Team…31 points
9.    Luna Rossa Swordfish…21 points

AC World Series Venice Fleet Racing Championship – Final Leaderboard
1.    Energy Team…74 points
2.    ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill…58 points
3.    Emirates Team New Zealand…54 points
4.    Artemis Racing…52 points
5.    Luna Rossa Piranha…43 points
6.    Luna Rossa Swordfish…43 points
7.    Team Korea…37 points
8.    ORACLE TEAM USA Bundock…22 points
9.    China Team…18 points

AC World Series Venice Match Racing Championship
Final Match: Artemis Racing defeated Luna Rossa – Piranha; 1-0
1.    Artemis Racing
2.    Luna Rossa Piranha
3.    ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill
4.    Energy Team
5.    Emirates Team New Zealand
6.    Team Korea
7.    Luna Rossa Swordfish
8.    ORACLE TEAM USA Bundock
9.    China Team
*The losers of the Semi Final and Quarter Final matches have been assigned final finishing positions (3rd through 9th) in the Match Racing Championship as per the Sailing Instructions.

Hiking-Team-Energy-©-ACEA-2012-Photo-Gilles-Martin-Raget

Hiking-Team-Energy-©-ACEA-2012-Photo-Gilles-Martin-Raget

 

Spithill and Oracle Team USA (Photo © Guilain Grenier/ORACLE TEAM USA)

Spithill and Oracle Team USA (Photo © Guilain Grenier/ORACLE TEAM USA)

ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL heads into Thursday’s start of the ACWS – Venice looking to extend its overall lead at the penultimate event of the 2011-12 ACWS season.

ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL leads the overall standings by 1 point after placing second last month in Naples. That helped skipper Jimmy Spithill and his four-man crew leap Emirates Team New Zealand into the top spot. Teams have been accumulating points in the two formats since the first regatta last August in Portugal.

Venice figures to be more than just a change of scenery. The 14th century Gothic architecture of the historic city will provide a photogenic backdrop for the speedy AC45 wingsail catamarans, and a tight racecourse will keep crews jumping more than normal on the athletic cats.

“I think it’s going to be a fantastic event from an iconic picture – racing in the canals of Venice is gonna be cool,” said Spithill, who at 30 years of age in 2010 became the youngest skipper to ever win the America’s Cup.

Spithill ©Guilain Grenier/ORACLE TEAM USA

Spithill at press conference ©Guilain Grenier/ORACLE TEAM USA

At today’s opening press conference Spithill recognized Italian soccer
star Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon by wearing a jersey of the Italian national
team. Buffon was goalkeeper for Italy when it won the World Cup in 2006 and also stars for Serie A club Juventus F.C. Spithill and Buffon traded jerseys yesterday after Buffon sailed on the canals with ORACLE TEAM USA.

“Gigi is a legend,” Spithill said. “He sailed with us yesterday. It’s great to be able to show athletes from other codes how athletic our sport is. These guys are blown away by what they see.”

ORACLE TEAM USA BUNDOCK holds fifth in the overall standings,
20 points behind Spithill and crew. Skipper Darren Bundock will welcome a new tactician to his crew: Russell Coutts, the team CEO and four-time America’s Cup winner. Coutts steps in for Tom Slingsby, who is taking time to focus on his Laser campaign for the London Olympics.

“Russell is a true legend in the America’s Cup and a great addition to our boat tactically. Russell has been thrown in at the deep end. He’s up front, pulling ropes and seeing how physical he’s made these boats! How often do you get to boss the boss around? Normally he’s used to be being at the back of the boat giving orders. Now he’s at the front coping with them.”

Racing in Venice will be a mixture of fleet and match racing. The final fleet race on Sunday, May 20, will award more points than the first six races – 30 points for first as opposed to 10 points – which should afford many in the fleet an opportunity to shake-up the standings.

“Most of the teams in Naples put in a lot of practice time. We’re seeing a bit of equalization going on where anyone can win a race,” said Team USA Spithill tactician John Kostecki. “It’s becoming tougher to get an advantage and be at the very top. That’s a good evolution and I’m sure we’ll see more of that to come in Venice.”

“I think the racecourse could be really tricky,” Spithill said. “The racing will be inshore, flat water, narrow lanes…the boundary will be the shoreline. That’ll be great for the spectators and I think we’ll see a lot of people.”

ACWS – Venice is the fifth of six stops on the inaugural America’s Cup World Series. The final event is scheduled for Newport, R.I., home to the Cup for 25 years, in late June.

 

2011-12 America’s Cup World Series Overall Standings
Team (Country) Match – Fleet — Total
1. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL (USA) 30 – 37 — 67
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 30 – 36 — 66
3. Artemis Racing (SWE) 33 – 21 — 54
4. Energy Team (FRA) 25 – 23 — 48
5. ORACLE TEAM USA BUNDOCK (USA) 26 – 21 — 47
5. Team Korea (KOR) 25 – 22 — 47
7. China Team (CHN) 11 – 13 — 24
8. Green Comm Racing (ESP) 11 – 12 — 23
9. Luna Rossa Piranha 9 – 10 — 19
10. Luna Rossa Swordfish 7 – 5 — 12
(After four of six scheduled events)

Venice  © ACEA / Gilles Martin-Raget

Venice © ACEA / Gilles Martin-Raget

The America’s Cup World Series has moved north. After the excitement of Naples, the next stop is Venice and this past week has seen the build out of the AC Village and team bases, as well as the first test sailing by one of the teams.

Within a week of the ship containing all of the AC World Series ‘materiel’ arriving in Venice, team bases were sprouting up, the AC Village in the Arsenale was taking shape, the television compound on Lido Island was being erected and the Italian team, Luna Rossa Challenge, had gone for its first sail with both crews.

With just one World Series regatta under its belt in Naples, Luna Rossa is out of contention for the 2011-12 AC World Series title. But that hasn’t made the team any less keen to be at the top of its game performing on home waters. It’s ‘Piranha’ crew, led by Chris Draper, won the Fleet Racing Championship in Naples – a sparkling debut. Now the team is hoping these early practice sessions will pay dividends in Venice.

America's Cup World Series Standings

America's Cup World Series Standings

At the top of the overall leaderboard, ORACLE Racing’s James Sptihill holds the slimmest of leads – one point – over Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand. Artemis Racing, with an impressive Match Racing win in Naples, has closed the gap in third place.

So it’s all to play for when the Championship Racing starts in Venice on May 17, in the penultimate event in the opening circuit. The 2011-12 AC World Series will then conclude in Newport, Rhode Island, home of the Cup from 1930 to 1987, at the end of June. And preparations are already ramping up there. It’s going to be an exciting few weeks in the 34th America’s Cup.

 

AC World Series Venice Village

AC World Series Venice Village

 

AC World Series crews have the opportunity to compete for €50,000 in prize money in the City of Venice Trophy on May 12-13. The invitational regatta, organized and announced today by the yacht club Venice Compagnia della Vela, marks the opening of a nine-day celebration of the America’s Cup World Series in the historic Italian city.

With €50,000 at stake, the City of Venice Trophy becomes an important prologue to the AC World Series championship. The new, two-day event consists of five, 30-minute fleet races, to be sailed on a course just outside Lido Island.

But the highlight will be Sunday’s long fleet race, which starts outside Lido Island and finishes just off St. Marks Square. The first team to finish at St. Marks Square will receive the City of Venice Trophy presented by Arzanà Navi as well as a cash prize of €30,000. The remaining €20,000 in prize money is distributed to the top three crews from the five 30-minute fleet races.

Download the Notice of Race for the City of Venice Trophy here

The results of City of Venice Trophy will not count towards the overall AC World Series rankings, but the generous prize money is sure to stoke competitive fires among the teams.

“This is a great opportunity for us to get in some meaningful racing against the other teams,” said Luna Rossa Challenge skipper Max Sirena. “We were always planning on sailing as early as possible in Venice, and now the City of Venice Trophy represents a great opportunity to participate in an additional very exciting and spectacular race.”

“The debut of the AC45s racing in Venice will certainly be very interesting,” said Mayor Giorgio Orsoni. “To have the teams competing for a trophy that bears the name of the city adds prestige to an already important event. Special thanks for this must go to Arzanà Navi, which has chosen to support us.

“This two-day regatta, with the grand finale a unique point to point race from Lido to St. Marks Square, is a first step towards seeing Compagnia della Vela as a host for high level sailing. This is a beautiful way to begin this nine day event, which we hope will be memorable, both for Venetians and for those who want to discover a new face of Venice – one linked to its traditions and the sea, but also to technology and a lesser known part of the city, the Arsenale, where the catamarans berth after racing for the City of Venice Trophy.”

The weekend of May 12-13 also marks the opening of the public event village for the full nine-day festival, highlighted by the championship races of the America’s Cup World Series Venice.

Championship Racing in the AC World Series Venice runs from May 17-20 and here, every race matters. Venice is the penultimate event in the 2011-12 World Series and James Spithill’s ORACLE Racing crew holds the overall lead by just one point over Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand.

Nine crews from seven countries are competing in the AC World Series in Venice, including: Artemis Racing (Sweden), skipper Terry Hutchinson; China Team (China), skipper Fred Le Peutrec; Emirates Team New Zealand (New Zealand), skipper Dean Barker; Energy Team (France), helmsman Loïck Peyron; Luna Rossa Challenge (Italy), with two boats, helmsmen Chris Draper and Paul Campbell-James; ORACLE Racing (USA) with two boats, skippers James Spithill and Darren Bundock; and Team Korea (Korea) with skipper Nathan Outteridge.

 

Venice  (Photo © 2012 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget)

Venice (Photo © 2012 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget)

Fresh from record crowds and success in Naples, Italy, the America’s Cup World Series heads to Venice, Italy, for the penultimate regatta in the inaugural AC World Series. Racing takes place from May 15 to 20 and is part of a festival of sailing over nine days from May 12 to 20. The race course is one of the narrowest and most challenging in competitive sailing.

Having just won their first regatta in front of home country fans, first-time competitor Luna Rossa Challenge (Italy) anticipates tough competition in Venice.  “Naples showed us that any of the teams can win on any given day,” said Luna Rossa’s skipper Max Sirena. “The racing is so close that you can’t afford to be off the pace for even one race or you will fall down the leader-board. Venice will be exceptionally tight putting a premium on boat-handling.”

More than 500,000 fans turned out during the week’s racing in Naples to watch the regatta. 70 hours of live coverage was broadcast globally, while over 350 media were accredited on site to cover the event, resulting in coverage in more than 850 media outlets.

Although Luna Rossa Challenge won the fleet racing competition, and Artemis Racing prevailed in the match racing in Naples, ORACLE Racing Spithill is now the AC World Series overall point leader overtaking Emirates Team New Zealand by just 1 point.

Venice will produce the narrowest race course yet at any AC World Series venue, and the backdrop to the racing will be the entrance to the Grand Canal, the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Square.

“The magnificent waterways of Venice and its stunning Grand Canal will provide an exceptional arena for the AC45s,” said Regatta Director Iain Murray. “The mix of courses and the tricky winds will provide more challenging racing than ever.”

Event preparations are well underway in what will be a spectacular venue. “Venice has a great maritime heritage and we look forward to welcoming the world’s best sailors to our waters,” said Venice Mayor Giorgio Orsoni.

The racing area includes spectator access along numerous points on the waterfront, including the team bases in the Venetian Arsenal. Dating back to the 1100s, Arsenale di Venezia was originally a shipyard and naval depot, providing a uniquely historic home base for the world’s top sailors throughout the event.

The innovative regatta format includes a mix of speed trials, head-to-head match racing, and all-out fleet racing with identical AC45s on the line. The forerunner to the next generation of America’s Cup boats, the AC45 wing-sailed catamaran is the official boat of the AC World Series. While capable of closing speeds more than 35 mph, the AC45 remains nimble enough to handle the tight, tactical race course.

Racing Program and Schedule

The ACWS Venice Race Village opens to the public on Saturday May 12. The City of Venice will host an invitational event “the City of Venice Regatta” over the opening weekend. America’s Cup teams are invited to compete, but the results will not count toward the ACWS Venice scoring.

America’s Cup World Series racing begins on Tuesday, May 15, and runs through Sunday, May 20.

Racing will be held from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. alternatively on two courses: one in the open sea, in front of San Nicolo del Lido (the Lido Race Course), and one in the lagoon (the San Marco Race Course), between the island of Lido, the basin San Marco and Punta della Dogana.

The event will feature nine boats from seven countries, including: Artemis Racing (Sweden), skipper Terry Hutchinson; China Team (China), skipper Fred Le Peutrec; Emirates Team New Zealand (New Zealand), skipper Dean Barker; Energy Team (France), helmsman Loïck Peyron; Luna Rossa Challenge (Italy), with two boats, helmsmen Chris Draper and Paul Campbell-James; ORACLE Racing (USA) with two boats, skippers James Spithill and Darren Bundock; and Team Korea (Korea) with skipper Nathan Outteridge.

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