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)

 

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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

Photo by Sam Greenfield / Volvo Ocean Race

Photo by Sam Greenfield / Volvo Ocean Race

 

Southampton, UK – Team Alvimedica launched their new Volvo Ocean 65 boat on Friday in Southampton to herald six months of crew selections and hard training before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 in October.

On the dock was Race CEO Knut Frostad who has fostered the dreams of two young Americans, Mark Towill and Charlie Enright, to launch a boat in offshore sailing’s toughest round-the-world professional event.

“This is a proud moment,” said Frostad. “Mark and Charlie remind me of me when I was their age – they have no fear and are just so hungry to compete in this race.

“They have overcome many, many barriers to reach this point having found the ideal sponsor for them but now, in lots of ways, the hard work is just starting.”

Enright and Towill’s success in securing a Volvo Ocean Race campaign already has a fairy tale feel – they first met as teenagers on the set of a Disney sailing movie seven years ago and vowed then to compete in the event one day.

“Today is a great moment for the both of us,” said Towill. “We’ve followed this dream all this time and for so long we didn’t think it would happen. We can’t wait to assemble our crew now and get in shape for the big start in October.”

The event at Southampton’s Green Marine boatyard also marked a major milestone for Alvimedica CEO Dr Cem Bozkurt who is fully backing the Turkey-based medical device company’s own dream of contesting the race.

“Our sailing team, initially made up of our employees, achieved significant success in a number of races after we identified sailing as our company’s sporting pillar two years ago,” he said.

“Now our target is to race with professionals in the premier league of sailing. We have set our hearts on the Volvo Ocean Race and we want to introduce Alvimedica to a broader public around the world using a challenging race which draws the attention of more than 1.5 billion people every edition.”

Alvimedica became one of Europe’s leading companies in the area of interventional cardiology after merging last year with CID, an Italian-based firm.

Now they have their sights firmly focused on the North American market and the global reach of the Volvo Ocean Race, which visits all continents of the world and 11 countries in total, suits those ambitions perfectly.

“We are in the Volvo Ocean Race because it is a sporting platform to express our worldwide business ambitions and reflects our corporate values and our passion.

“We’re young, agile, we love challenges, we thrive on modern technology and we firmly believe that teamwork leads to better results. That is also the spirit of the Volvo Ocean Race.”

Towill and Enright have a very full agenda now that their one-design Volvo Ocean 65 has hit the water in an event witnessed by journalists from around Europe.

They will be trialing prospective crewmates later this month with the accent firmly on young talent from around the world. Towill and Charlie are both in their 20s and will be leading the youngest team in the race.

Once the eight-man crew plus an on-board reporter are recruited, Team Alvimedica plan some hard-core training in the lead-up to the opening in-port race in Alicante, Spain on October 4.

A highlight of their preparations will be a trans-Atlantic voyage to their home port of Newport, Rhode Island which will be hosting the Race for the first time in May next year.

A week after the Alicante in-port race, the fleet sets sail for the first leg of nine to Cape Town on October 11.

Photo by Sam Greenfield / Volvo Ocean Race

Photo by Sam Greenfield / Volvo Ocean Race

ROFF Cascais Sailing Team training on their home waters.

– Act 5 Porto starts tomorrow – follow online on the official http://www.extremesailingseries.com/website and watch the live video stream from 1700-1800 BST (GMT + 1) / 1800-1900 CEST daily from the 26 – 28 July.

– Pierre Pennec returns to Extreme Sailing Series™ at the helm of the Swiss-flagged Realteam.
– Win Extreme Sailing Series™ kit from official clothing partners Marinepool! Click here for more info.
– Watch the preview video here.

With less then 24 hours before the start of Act 5 of the Extreme Sailing Series™ in Porto, the teams have spent today making final preparations to their Extreme 40s in the technical area at Douro Marina and putting in some last minute training time on the water before proceedings get underway tomorrow (Thursday 25th July). There is plenty of anticipation and excitement dockside with official Extreme Sailing Series weather partners WetterWelt predicting 8-12 knots of breeze with gusts up to 15 knots for the first two days racing.

How to follow the Extreme Sailing Series, Act 5, Porto ONLINE

Racing takes place over four days from the 25-28 July kicking off with a day of open water racing and the official skippers press conference before moving into stadium mode where the Douro River will provide the playground for the eight Extreme 40s from the 26-28 July.

The Extreme Sailing Series website homepage will go into race mode on day one and will serve as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for live video, results and news as well as an interactive live blog where fans can leave their comments.

From the 26 July, the ‘Stadium Racing’ will be streamed live to the website with expert commentary from sailing expert and Olympic commentator Richard Simmonds and analytics from technical partner SAP. This streaming is also available on all iOS devices (iPad, iPhone) from 1700-1800 BST (GMT + 1), 26-28 July.

Winner's of the Act in 2012, The Wave, Muscat out in training in Porto, Portugal

How to follow the Extreme Sailing Series, Act 5, Porto ONSITE

The free to enter public Race Village is located on Porto’s Douro Riverbank near the iconic Dom Luís I iron bridge designed by one of Eiffel’s partners, Téophile Seyrig, where the Extreme 40 fleet will race close to shore on the public days, providing the perfect viewing platform for ‘Stadium Racing’.

The public Race Village will provide a host of entertainment throughout the day including music, public bar and food stalls, a resident DJ, live commentary in English and Portuguese throughout the racing, a Range Rover Sport TDV6 HSE car display as well as a zone dedicated to children. The on-water entertainment will be complemented by the main warm up act, the NeilPryde Windsurf Racing Series.

 

The new addition Pierre Pennec tests the Portuguese waters in training onboard Realteam.

For the full event schedule visit the dedicated Porto page on the official website, here.

Pierre Pennec returns at the helm of the Swiss-flagged Realteam

Pierre Pennec, one of the most experienced Extreme 40 sailors having finished the Series in second and third in 2011 and 2012 respectively with Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, is to join Realteam for Act 5, Porto as helmsman for this event.

Pennec, who is looking forward to taking up the challenge alongside the Swiss entry commented, “I have often come across the team onboard the Décision 35 and they seem very well structured, I am impressed with their level of performance and focus. I thought that with my Extreme 40 experience, I might be able to bring something to the team and things have progressed naturally from there. Jérome got in touch a while ago about coaching and sailing and I am delighted to be joining the team for Act 5 which is shaping up to be a tough competition!” Read more online here.

Win Marinepool Kit!
Extreme Sailing Series is  giving away some exclusive Extreme Sailing Series team kit from official clothing partners Marinepool – perfect for a day on or off the water! They have one summer bundle for men and one for women up for grabs.

 Click here for more details and to enter.

 

Extreme Sailing Series Rankings to date

OVERALL

(Results updated after each race)

RANK TEAM
1 Alinghi 27
2 The Wave Muscat 26
3 Red Bull Sailing Team 24
4 SAP Extreme Sailing Team 20
5 Team Korea 16
6 GAC Pindar 16
7 Realteam 14
8 Team X Invitational 13

.

Alinghi are out to defend their Series lead on the Portuguese waters in Porto.

 

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN. 2012. Day four of Copa del Rey of 52 Superseries on july 19, 2012 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain (Photo by Xaume Olleros/52 Superseries)

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN. 2012. Day four of Copa del Rey of 52 Superseries on july 19, 2012 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain (Photo by Xaume Olleros/52 Superseries)

The overall lead of the Copa del Rey IRC 1 division hangs in the hands of the International Jury on Thursday, after a collision between longstanding regatta leaders Audi Azzurra and provisional leaders Audi All4One resulted in counter protests. The pair protested each other after their boats collided during an incident that relates to buoy room during a crucial race on day four of the six-day regatta at Palma, Mallorca.

The pair was neck-and-neck on the approach to the mark when All4One narrowly passed on the inside of Azzurra and their yachts collided. The Italian/Argentinean team paid a penance, a 720 turn, and dropped from first to fifth.

At the race’s end each team notified race management of their intention to protest the other. The protest will be heard by the International Jury at the Real Club de Náutico later tonight.

The outcome could cause a major shakeup of the overall leaderboard on what was otherwise a victorious day for Audi All4One.

The team scored back-to-back wins thanks to the powerhouse partnership of America’s Cup and Olympic gold medallists Jochen Schüemann and Jordi Calafat, who proved invincible.

It is the third line honours win in two days for the on-form team, having won Wednesday’s coastal race.

The trifecta of victories provisionally moves the team to the top of the overall leaderboard on 19 points, edging them to a three point lead over longstanding leaders Audi Azzurra Racing Team with just two-days racing remaining.

But, with a protest pending and more racing to come All4One strategist Pascal Rambeau said it was too early to take too much confidence from the victories.

“There is still a long way, four races to go,’’ he said. “We have to take it one race at a time and stay focused and keep the momentum we have. It is competitive racing, today proves that.”

It should have been a day of celebration for Azzurra, as July 19 marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of the first Azzurra yacht. Instead the team were commiserating their worst results yet, sixth and fifth on corrected time.

The bad form could see Azzurra lose the lead they have held for two-days and slip from a 5.5 point lead, to three point deficit in second place.

Provisionally Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One are the Copa del Rey IRC 1 leaders on 19 points, followed by Audi Azzurra Sailing Team on 22, Gladiator, 24.5, PowerPlay, 27.5 and Paprec Recyclage, 29.

More than 1,100 sailors are competing on board about 119 yachts, across seven divisions in the 31st Copa del Rey.  A maximum of 12 races will be contested across the six-day regatta that concludes on Saturday July 21. Copa del Rey does not count towards the overall 52 Super Series.

The penultimate day of racing will begin on Friday at 1300 local, 1100 UTC.

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN. 2012. Day four of Copa del Rey of 52 Superseries on july 19, 2012 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain (Photo by Xaume Olleros/52 Superseries)

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN. 2012. Day four of Copa del Rey of 52 Superseries on july 19, 2012 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain (Photo by Xaume Olleros/52 Superseries)

 

Rán Racing claimed the Royal Cup and their first overall victory in the inaugural 52 Super Series in a testing day’s racing at Palma, Mallorca on Saturday that victorious skipper Niklas Zennström described as being “as good as it gets”.

Zennstroms’s team surged to victory in a 30-plus northeaster at speeds in excess of 24 knots, finishing second across the line in the final race of the day to clinch the overall win.

World champions Quantum Racing finished second in the cup after they were forced to retire from the first of two races on Saturday, when they broke their headstay ram, headfoil and jib in the near gale force conditions.

The team’s shore crew sent an urgent dispatch of supplies to effect on water repairs between the two races. The crew successfully raced the clock and returned Quantum to the second race, but it just wasn’t their day.

Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One rounded out the Royal Cup’s podium, a result that pleased four-time Olympic medallist and twice America’s Cup winner skipper Jochen Schümann despite having entered the final race with a one-point lead.

 

Having won the first race today, All4One entered the final race at the top of the leaderboard with a total of 20 points, while both Quantum and Rán were just one point behind on 21.

Each team had crunched the numbers and knew exactly where they needed to place to clinch the coveted Royal Cup Challenge Trophy, but only Rán were able to execute their plan with success.

Zennström said the conditions in Palma Bay were challenging but very rewarding.

“These conditions are fantastic, you’re going downwind doing 24 knots, you’re doing nine knots upwind and still you’re doing boat on boat racing,” he said.

“Crossing the finish line and seeing Quantum ahead of All4One was just awesome, it’s as good as it gets. Quantum are really the class act, beating them today was really, really awesome. They’re hard to beat and that makes winning even sweeter.”

It was more a bittersweet day for Quantum’s crew, having entered the final day’s racing with a six point buffer and a lead they had held since the four day regatta started on Wednesday.

Tactician Andy Horton said the crew knew that their chances of clinging to their lead was compromised the minute they heard a massive “bang” when their headstay ram broke and they saw their jib tear in the opening nine minutes of the day’s first race.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,’’ Horton said. “But this is a great group of guys, there wasn’t anything said, it was just a freak accident. This is tight racing. You have to be good enough to win despite something like this happening.”

There was a surprise of a different kind for the crew on board Audi All4One, who exceeded even their own expectations to score third in the Royal Cup.

Schümann said being the “underdogs” helped his crew race under the radar, uninfluenced by the other teams’ intentions.

“We’re quite happy, finishing third is more than we expected coming here, but that’s what we dreamed of,’’ he said. “This is our first regatta together as a team. We really enjoy racing together and I think when you see the results getting better and better that reflects it.”

Audi Azzurra Sailing Team finished fourth in the Royal Cup, followed by PowerPlay, Gladiator, Provezza and Aquila.

In the overall 52 Super Series Quantum Racing leads with 53.5 points, followed by Audi Azzurra Sailing Team, 59.5, Rán Racing, 69.5, Gladiator, 93, Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One, 111.5, PowerPlay, 121.2, Provezza, 131.5, Aquila, 140.5 and Paprec, 150.5.

The teams are now turning their sights on 31st Copa del Rey where eight 52 teams will have a chance to race their grand prix yachts in a highly competitive event that won’t count towards the 52 Super Series points.

The next 52 Super Series point scoring event is the Valencia Cup, from September 19-22.

Ranking

  1. Rán Racing 23pts
  2. Quantum Racing 24pts
  3. Audi All4One 24pts
  4. Audi Azzurra Sailing Team 27pts
  5. PowerPlay 41.4pts
  6. Gladiator 44pts
  7. Provezza 47pts
  8. Aquila 56pts

 

TP52s in Royal Cup 2012 Palma, Mallorca ( Photo  © Jacaranda Marketing )

TP52s in Royal Cup 2012 Palma, Mallorca ( Photo © Jacaranda Marketing )

Defending champions Quantum Racing proved why they are the team to beat in the 52 Super Series after winning a dramatic opening day’s racing in the Royal Cup at Palma, Mallorca where costly crew errors proved just how close the competition is.

Quantum Racing claimed a commanding victory in the opening race and second place in race two to finish on three points on the first day of the four-day regatta to extend their overall lead in the 52 Super Series from three points to five.

Rán Racing are second in the Royal Cup with four points, Audi Azzurra Sailing Team are third with five points, followed by Audi Sailing Team powered by All4One, Gladiator, Aquila, PowerPlay and Provezza.

Quantum skipper and double America’s Cup champion Ed Baird said it was a tough day’s racing that was packed with plenty of wind shifts that came out of no where and put his crew’s recent lessons to the test.

“It was one of those races where the rich get richer, as soon as you were a little bit ahead everything became a little more obvious,’’ Baird said.

“We worked awfully hard all of last year, and this year, at trying to improve every little thing.

“It sounds so basic but the tacks, the gybes, they are better than they were three or four months ago. So are the starts, the straight line speed, the sails, the understanding of the mast and the communications, they’re all improving.”

It was a much tougher day’s racing for crews on board newcomer Provezza and British boat Gladiator, who suffered at the hands of errors that placed them second last and last respectively in race two.

Provezza struggled to come back after being recalled for jumping the start and Gladiator dropped from second to last when they lost their spinnaker overboard halfway through the race.

Gladiator skipper Tony Langley said his team’s severe penance for one error was a testament to the caliber of the class.

“It was all in the drop, we lost the string-line system and that was it,” he said. “At this level you cannot afford to make any mistakes.

“You make a small mistake and you’ll get spat out one place or two places, you make a medium mistake and you get spat out the back, but you make a mistake like this and you’re just completing the course for one point.”

Day two of the Royal Cup, hosted by Real Club Náutico de Palma, starts at 1300 local, 1100 UTC. Early predictions have teams expecting between 12 and 18 knots from the south-southwest.

Fireworks go off in the city of Lisbon, as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, finish first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by Paul Todd/ Volvo Ocean Race)

Fireworks go off in the city of Lisbon, as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, finish first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by Paul Todd/ Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi shrugged off seven months of frustration to seal their first offshore victory in a nerve-jarring transatlantic leg from Miami to Lisbon, while Groupama’s second place finish — five and a half minutes behind after more than 3,500 nautical miles racing — was enough to take them top of the leaderboard in place of long-term leaders Telefonica.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Credit: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race)

Groupama spent days snapping at the heels of the Emirati team and were within a mile of their rivals as they headed up the River Tagus towards the finish line.

Ian Walker’s team defended resolutely, however, matching their rivals gybe for gybe to ensure their first podium finish on an offshore leg would also be their first win, and spark wild celebrations lit up by a booming firework display.

For Groupama, the consolation prize came soon enough, as Telefónica’s finish in fourth place — behind PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG in the third podium slot and just ahead of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand — meant the French team climb above them.

Abu Dhabi, who finished at 21:23:54 UTC, received 30 points for victory, with Groupama netting 25 after their finish at 21:29:21. PUMA took 20 points, Telefonica 15 and CAMPER 10.

Team Sanya finished sixth to pick up five points.

Groupama, skippered by Franck Cammas, now lead Telefónica by three points overall, with the Spanish team dropping off the lead for the first time since their victory on Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town back in November.

Four teams remain separated by just 21 points, making it the closest contest in the 39-year history of the Volvo Ocean Race with just two offshore legs and three in-port races still to come.

The arrival in Lisbon represented a homecoming for Abu Dhabi, who had a training base in nearby Cascais during the build-up to the race.

“It’s incredible — what a welcome,” said Walker, before he and Emirati crew member Adil Khalid were chucked into the water by their team mates.

“Do you think you can make the last 10 miles of a race any harder than that?

“It’s one of the most amazing experiences of my sailing career, that’s for sure. Mentally, certainly I’m exhausted. It’s just such a relief.”

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate finishing first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by  IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate finishing first on leg 7, from Miami, USA to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi also visited Lisbon in much less happy circumstances during Leg 1, after a dismasting within the first few hours ultimately forced them to ship the boat from Lisbon to Cape Town.

While they have notched up three victories in in-port races, and have a strong chance of winning the series, this is the first time they have really been able to shine in an offshore leg.

First Groupama and then Telefónica enjoyed the lead for long spells on a leg that started out looking like a fast, direct sprint across the Atlantic before the effects of Tropical Storm Alberto altered things drastically.

One by one, the boats were forced to head ever further north towards the ice exclusion zone.

Abu Dhabi moved into the lead on Day 6 and after briefly surrendering it to CAMPER they were back ahead the following day.

Two days later they were clear, though skipper Ian Walker warned repeatedly that a light-air zone inside the final 300 nautical miles would see the fleet compress.

That’s exactly how it turned out, with Abu Dhabi forced to scrap every step of the way to an emotional victory at the team’s second home.

“It came down to the wire, and we certainly had our ups and downs, but we are very happy,” said Groupama skipper Franck Cammas. “it was a good operation for us!”

Third place for PUMA kept them in contention for the overall lead, 12 points behind new leaders Groupama.

“This is a great result,” said the team’s American skipper Ken Read. “There’s still a lot of points on the board and to be on the podium is a big deal for us.”

Crown Prince Felipe of Spain visits Team Telefonica in the Lisbon Race Village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Crown Prince Felipe of Spain visits Team Telefonica in the Lisbon Race Village, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

The battle between Telefónica and CAMPER for fourth and fifth came down to a slow-motion tussle over an excruciating final few miles, with no breeze and the current against them.

Telefónica eventually finished with an advantage of 102 seconds and less than a boat length for a five-point boost that could yet prove crucial.

The action resumes with the In-Port Race on June 9, followed by the start of Leg 8 to Lorient the following day.

Leg 7 results:

1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 11d, 04h, 23m, 54s

2. Groupama sailing team – 11d, 04h, 29m, 21s

3. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG – 11d, 06h, 26m, 52s

4. Team Telefónica – 11d, 08h, 28m, 27s

5. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand – 11d, 08h, 30m, 09s

6. Team Sanya – 11d, 08h, 44m, 25s

Overall        Leg 7    Total
1            Groupama sailing team    25    183
2            Team Telefónica    15    180
3            PUMA Ocean Racing by BERG    20    171
4            CAMPER with Emirates Team NZ    10    162
5            Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing    30    104
6            Team Sanya    5    32

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, passes a spectator boat, during the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, passes a spectator boat, during the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing launched an 11th hour comeback in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race to take their tally of in-shore successes to three, while Groupama scored a strong second to pile the pressure on overall race leaders Telefónica.

Ian Walker’s crew were rewarded for sailing a near-perfect race on Saturday when they snatched the lead from Groupama on the penultimate leg and went on to seal a dramatic victory.

Although they were pipped at the post, Groupama’s result moves them to within just seven points of Telefónica, who had yet more in-port disappointment when a penalty for touching one of the turning marks relegated them to last place.

In a thrilling finale, PUMA came from behind to rocket past CAMPER into third just metres from the finish line.

It was a fourth successive podium finish in the in-shore series for Ken Read’s PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crew, and it brought them to within a point of third-placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand on the overall scoreboard.

Team Sanya, the only team not racing in a new generation boat, were unlucky not to finish higher up the leaderboard, having to settle for fifth after a brave battle with their rivals.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate taking first place, in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by  IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate taking first place, in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

“It feels great,” said a jubilant Abu Dhabi skipper Walker moments after crossing the finish line.

“We’ve had a tough time of it. We had no time at all to prepare for the last in-port race and we made a special point of having two full days’ training here. We wanted to show the world that Abu Dhabi hasn’t given up. We’re a good team, we’re determined, and it feels great to win a race.”

With the Volvo Ocean Race entering a critical stage with just three offshore legs and three in-port races left, just 14 points split the top four boats.

Telefónica still lead with 165 points but snapping at their heels are Groupama on 158, while CAMPER and PUMA are dangerously close on 152 and 151 respectively, bolstered by the results of the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race.

In a nail-biting contest peppered with position changes, Abu Dhabi capitalised on a strong start along with Sanya but it was Telefónica who led round the first mark, showing off their blistering speed on Leg 1.

The action couldn’t have been any more intense with Abu Dhabi and Groupama overhauling Telefónica on Leg 2. Meanwhile, after paying the price for heading offshore, CAMPER and PUMA were left desperately chasing the frontrunners.

While the front two stretched their lead, a fierce battle for third developed, climaxing on Leg 6 with Telefónica hitting the mark and the rest of the fleet piling in behind.

Telefónica were penalised by the on-the-water umpires, adding to their in-port misery and ending their hopes of consolidating their overall lead.

Sniffing a chance to pick up crucial points, PUMA, CAMPER and Sanya put pedal to metal and launched an extraordinary comeback that brought them back in touch with then leaders Groupama and second-placed Abu Dhabi with just a few legs left.

Abu Dhabi’s defining moment came when they hoisted a bigger sail than their French rivals, making the most of the smallest of speed advantages to pass Groupama despite having to dodge a spectator boat.

With the breeze fading, race officials chose to shorten the course and Abu Dhabi hung on to claim the win, all the more sweet due to the fact that just a few weeks ago their stricken boat Azzam was on a container ship en route to Brazil.

The sailors and shore crews are now turning their sights on the final preparations for 3,580 nautical mile Leg 7 from Miami to Lisbon, Portugal, starting on Sunday at 1700 UTC (1300 local time).

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate taking first place, in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK celebrate taking first place, in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

PORTMIAMI In-Port Race results:
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, 74:09
2. Groupama sailing team, +00:33
3. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, +02:02
4. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, +02:11 
5. Team Sanya, +2:35
6. Team Telefónica, +6:28

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, skippered by Ken Read from the USA chases down CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, to take third place in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by  IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, skippered by Ken Read from the USA chases down CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, to take third place in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Photo by IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)