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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Team Brunel Wins Very Slow In-Port Race in Itajaí

Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) won an excruciatingly drawn-out Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Itajaí in the Volvo Ocean Race on Saturday when a lack of breeze tested the sailors' patience and seamanship to the full.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
The very hard-earned victory takes the Dutch boat to the top of the in-port race series overall standings on 15 points (see panel above), one point clear of second-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR).
Photo: Laura Lopes / Dongfeng Race Team
For so long this morning it was not clear if the packed docks of fans in Itajaí would even see an in-port race, with wind pressures barely passing three knots.Race management postponed the start for 10 minutes before the boats were finally able to cross the start line.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) were happy simply to be on the racecourse, after their shore team and the race’s Boatyard crew were forced to work all night to reinforce a section of their mast, ensuring the rig was robust enough.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) were the first to show in the shortened, two-lap, four-leg contest as they chased their third win in the in-port series, and second in a row after their success in Auckland.
They narrowly reached the first gate ahead of overall race and in-port series leaders, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, with the all-female crew and Emirati crew opting for different sides of the course.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
The pair completed lap two virtually neck-and-neck all the way as they desperately sought the little wind pressure Itajaí was offering on an overcast, but bright early afternoon. Slowly but surely, however, the crew of Azzam began to eke out an advantage over the women, but then the wind dropped completely and the entire fleet slowed to a virtual standstill.
Photo: Marc Bow / Volvo Ocean Race
Team SCA were rocked by a 360-degree penalty turn for fouling, who suddenly moved from towards the back of the fleet into second place.The Dutch, though, then took their turn to feel total frustration as the wind deserted them and instead, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) claimed the pace.
Photo: Laura Lopes / Dongfeng Race Team
With the finish at last in sight, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team found themselves virtually in a dead heat for the lead, but still struggling desperately to find pressure.
Finally, Bouwe Bekking's men shook off what they must have felt was concrete from their hull to win their first in-port race of the series.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
Azzam then eased past Dongfeng for second with Team SCA pipping MAPFRE for fourth and Team Alvimedica had to settle for sixth.

Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Itajaí results:
1. Team Brunel 15:31:47 (local finish time) – 1pt
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 15:33:10 – 2pts
3. Dongfeng Race Team 15:33:21 – 3pts
4. Team SCA 15:33:43 – 4pts

5. MAPFRE 15:34:10 – 5pts
6. Team Alvimedica 15:35:58 – 6pts
Team Vestas Wind – DNS 8pts

Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race Series overall standings (after six races of 10):
1. Team Brunel – 15pts
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 16pts
3. Team SCA – 20pts
4. Dongfeng Race Team – 21pts
5. Team Alvimedica – 26pts
6. MAPFRE – 30pts
7. Team Vestas Wind – 44 pts

Race statistics:
Start time 14:10 local time
True Wind Speed: 5-6 knots at the start dropped to 3 knots
True Wind Direction: 090 at the start shifting from 370 to 090 during the race
Bearing to gate bottom gate: 270 for the first lap move to 050 for 2nd rounding.
Distance 1nm, 3 laps shortened to 2 laps.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Vestas Wind Reinvention Currently Taking Place - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) shore manager Neil Cox has paid tribute to the joint efforts to return the Danish boat into the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 – and is cautiously optimistic they are on track.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race
The team, who did serious damage to their Volvo Ocean 65 on November 29during Leg 2 when they collided with a reef in the Indian Ocean, are rebuilding the boat in the Persico boatyard in Bergamo, Italy.
Photo: Brian Carlin / Team Vestas Wind / Volvo Ocean Race
They have set themselves a very tight schedule of returning to the current 12th edition by the Lisbon stopover in late May/early June to sail the final two legs. The fleet is scheduled to depart from Portugal for Lorient, France, on June 6.
Photo: Brian Carlin / Team Vestas Wind / Volvo Ocean Race
There have already been huge efforts to help facilitate Vestas Wind's return with Race partners, Maersk Line, and sponsors, GAC & GAC Pindar, overseeing the boat's crossing from Malaysia. Cox hopes they can make that deadline, but warns it is still a huge challenge despite the great teamwork between the various cogs in a big wheel, including Persico and Green Marine (Britain).
Photo: Brian Carlin / Team Vestas Wind / Volvo Ocean Race
“Like all intense build projects, you can see the signs of wear on the guys, but to their credit they have not yet shown any sign of things being in the ‘too hard’ basket,” he said on Wednesday.

“The reality is, though, that we are going to have some challenging days in front of us to hold this all together as required. But we have a pretty determined group.”

The immediate target is have the boat ready to be loaded on to a truck from the shed at Persico for the long journey to Lisbon in six weeks.

Cox listed the progress so far.

“The deck is on, the boat is out of the mould. All the primary structure is in the boat and a large percentage of the internal secondary structure and detailing is underway,” he said.

“The hull surface has come out of the mould nicely and we have the paint team starting on all the surface prep work here, filling in any pin holes before the application of primer/undercoat.

“With this done, we want to offer the teams from Diverse, Navtec, Livewire, Cariboni (working on internal components such as the electronics and hydraulics) as much uninterrupted runway through the boat as possible.

“We are still receiving required equipment daily by the pallet load and have had the support of both Green Marine and Volvo Ocean Race shared services helping with the transfer of both information and parts.”

Meanwhile, work on the racing boats that contested the treacherous Leg 5, has progressed without major issue.

That includes Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA). The boat’s mast, which was fractured during the stage and forced their retirement, is being replaced. Caudrelier and his crew expect to return their boat to the Itajaí waters on Thursday, ahead of Saturday’s Team Vestas Wind Itajaí In-Port Race.

The other teams – Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) – had much smaller repair lists and are all back in perfect shape for race weekend (April 18-19).

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hooligan Rocks Pittwater at MC38 Nationals Thanks to Beasho

Vitamin kingpin Marcus Blackmore is used to winning in business and yacht racing. Nine months as the owner of his latest yacht called Hooligan, a polished black MC38, and he’s in control of the Australian Championship on Pittwater.
Photo: Courtesy of McConaghy Boats
Hooligan leads with four points and the next three, John Bacon’s Dark Star, Chris Hancock’s Vino and Leslie Green’s Ginger sit behind, all finishing the day on 10 points.
Photo: Courtesy of McConaghy Boats
“Credit goes to Beasho without question, he had a blinder,” Blackmore praised, referring to his tactician Adam Beashel who grew up on Pittwater and went into professional sailing at the highest level, the America’s Cup as the strategist of Emirates Team New Zealand.
Photo: Courtesy of McConaghy Boats
Hooligan scored 1,2,1 on a changing track north of Scotland Island. “We didn’t lead these races, we just plugged away and got back in the game,” Blackmore said. “It wasn’t easy to steer today. I never once looked at the wind angle; I was fixed on the boat’s heel angle all day. Beasho has changed how we sail downwind plus we have a consistent crew; there’s no question we are faster.”
Photo: Courtesy of McConaghy Boats
Beashel agreed he had a good feel for downwind performance today, “things fell into place,” he smiled wryly. In this game and this fleet the difference between opening scores and final results can be eternity. And Beashel knows it.
Photo: Courtesy of McConaghy Boats
Up to twenty knots of SW breeze in the second race fizzled out and delayed the start of the third race by more than two hours. The race committee and the fleet of eight MC38 one designs went chasing the wind back and forth from Clareville across to Pittwater’s western shoreline around Morning Bay with the postponement flag flying. Principal Race Officer Steve Merrington went into one sequence then abandoned that start as the wind twisted around the southerly bearing.
Photo: Courtesy of McConaghy Boats
Further down the coast Sydney Harbour was showing consistent breeze but frustratingly it didn’t make it to Pittwater until a dark line appeared promisingly out of the sou’east corner. The committee set up a short course in anticipation and went into sequence after 3pm with the sun dropping over Kur-ing-ai Chase National Park, a relieved PRO finally able to say to crews “let’s have a crack."

Skipper of the third placed Vino, Chris Hancock, said “we had a good day and we are very satisfied. It wasn’t easy racing, a lot of concentration was required. If you got on the wrong side of the course it was pretty much game over. Hooligan did a fantastic job, they were very impressive. At this stage they have taken control but there’s still seven to go. Racing as always was very tight, one misjudgement and you are back in the field.”

Tomorrow’s forecast, Saturday April 11, 2015 is south to south-westerly around 10 knots becoming south-easterly in the middle of the day then north-easterly later. Another four races are scheduled, the first due to start at 1100hrs in what’s likely to be the day’s best conditions.

After racing host Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club welcomed crews and their families back to the clubhouse on a Sydney stunning autumn afternoon to enjoy a snag in bread with some dead horse [Aussie slang for tomato sauce] and a well-earned drink courtesy of regatta sponsor Harken Australia.

Lisa Ratcliff

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Team SCA Arrive In Itajaí - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Battered, bruised, but defiant to the last, Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) finally completed a gruelling Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Tuesday and arrived to a well-deserved Brazilian welcome fit for heroines.
Photo: Buda Mendes / Volvo Ocean Race
Itajaí reserved its very best weather for the arrival of the first all-women’s crew to enter the race for 12 years, a sharp contrast to the conditions the team have battled with since leaving Auckland on March 18.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
At the beginning of last week, having struggled in 50 knots of wind (92 km per hour) and a confused sea state, Team SCA were one of three crews to crash on their sides during a Chinese gybe, damaging their fractional code zero, a key sail in the process.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
The setback left them with no chance of keeping pace with the main racing pack led by winners, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), which completed the 6,776-nautical mile (nm) leg on Sunday.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
At one stage, they also lost their electronics overnight, effectively sailing blind in the Southern Ocean. Then, last Sunday, they were rocked again by three collisions with unidentified objects as they raced up the Brazilian coast in the South Atlantic, the first doing considerable damage to the rudder.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
Undaunted, Davies and her 11-strong crew battled on to finish the event’s toughest leg at around 1352 GMT (local time 1052) on Tuesday (see panel for elapsed times).

"We made it to dock! We made mistakes, we had things go wrong, but we fixed it all and we've made it here, and we're in one piece so we're happy," said the British skipper.

"We proved at the beginning that we could keep up with the others, but then we broke our fractional sail, the sail that we really needed for this leg.

"So we kind of let ourselves down by losing that sail. It was really, really hard; we were frustrated. There was nothing much we could do in certain conditions without our fractional.

"The race became a bit of different challenge from then on."

Team SCA have earned five points to take their overall tally to 29.

The shore crew, working with the race’s Boatyard team, will now have a busy few days ensuring the boat is back to optimum condition ready for the Team Vestas Wind Itajaí In-Port race on April 18 and the Leg 6 departure for Newport, Rhode Island, a day later.

Meanwhile, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), who were forced to retire from the leg after breaking their mast on Monday last week, are delivering their stricken boat to Itajaí under sail and motor.

They will have about four days to have their boat repaired in time for the Newport departure.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Team SCA Battle On - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) were still doggedly battling the elements on Monday to reach their destination in Itajaí, south-east Brazil, more than 12 hours after the leaders had finished Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
Rarely in the 41-year history of the race can a team have worked so hard to clinch points for fifth place. A week after crashing to their side in a Chinese gybe and damaging a key sail, the all-women crew found themselves toppled again after colliding into an unidentified object in the south Atlantic.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
That did some damage to their port rudder, yet their run of bad luck, which denied them a possible finish alongside leg winners Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) on Sunday night, was not over yet.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
They suffered two further ‘hits’ in the dark – mercifully, causing little damage – before continuing on their way. By 0940 UTC on Monday, they had just over 400 nautical miles (nm) of the 6,766nm leg to sail, with an expected time of arrival in Itajaí of 1600 UTC on Tuesday.
Photo: Vincent Arens / Volvo Ocean Race
Team SCA’s Onboard Reporter, Anna-Lena Elled (SWE), summed up one hell of a tough day at the office for the first all-female team to contest offshore sailing’s most challenging race:
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
“As is so often the case, when you least expect something to happen it does and boom we hit something with the port rudder,” she wrote in her daily blog from the boat.The boat turned around, tacked and capsized, and once again, we were on our side. The crew managed to right the situation quickly without any further damage, except on the rudder that got hit.
Photo: Buda Mendes / Volvo Ocean Race
“A two-hour long process of surveying and attempting to restore the damaged parts followed before we could continue our journey towards the finish line again. A few hours later we had one more hit, this time in the keel - and before sunset another one. What are the odds?”
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
At least they had the consolation of knowing that they weren’t alone in their misfortune during the longest and toughest leg in the 12th edition.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) were forced to pull out last week after the top of their mast fractured and a delivery crew is currently nursing the boat to Itajaí where they will have a new rig fitted.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
It will be a race against time to be ready for the start of Leg 6 to Newport, Rhode Island, which departs from Itajaí on April 19.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
Meantime, victors Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were celebrating Sunday’s epic Leg 5 victory, which leaves them seven points clear at the top of the standings, and front-runners for the IWC 24-hour Speed Record Challenge, having covered 551nm during the stage from Auckland to Brazil.

And there was more good news for skipper Ian Walker, with the crew’s sole Emirati, Adil Khalid (UAE), once more back to full fitness having missed the previous two legs due to illness.

“As part of my recovery plan, I stayed on Sir Bani Yas Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi, where I had a rigorous fitness regime. I did six hours in the gym every day and had a nutritionist and physical trainer on hand to monitor my progress,” said Khalid.

“It was tough, but I’m now fully cleared for action and right back up to the levels I have to be at to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race.”

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Wins Leg 5 - Volvo Ocean Race

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) buried the miserable memories of three years ago to win an epic Southern Ocean/south Atlantic crossing in Leg 5 and claim their second stage victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.
Photo: Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race
In 2012, Walker’s crew were forced to return to Auckland with hull damage and eventually retired from the leg to Itajaí, Brazil.
Photo: Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race
They must have feared more of the same when Cyclone Pam delayed the departure from New Zealand for three days, but despite taking the worst that the Southern Ocean and then the south Atlantic could throw at them, the Emirati team emerged triumphant after nearly 19 days of ultra-challenging, super-tight sailing.
Photo: Ian Roman / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
Amazingly, skipper Ian Walker reported that they had reached Itajaí with the least amount of work for their shore crew to do of any leg so far in this edition.
Photo: Buda Mendes / Volvo Ocean Race
To add the icing to their cake, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing set the new best mark in the chase for IWC prize for the most nautical miles (nm) sailed in 24 hours with 551nm leading up to Cape Horn.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
“Awesome. It’s been such a monster of a leg, we were so, so stoked with the 24-hour record,” said a jubilant Walker, 45, straight after crossing the line in front of a waterfront packed by thousands of spectators.
Photo: Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE / Volvo Ocean Race
“That (IWC record) was actually what got us back up with the leaders. Since then we have sailed very, very well. It’s a very tight finish.”
Photo: Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE / Volvo Ocean Race
He credited his team’s versatility for much of their success (elapsed time for Leg 5: 18 days 23 hours 30 minutes 10 seconds).
Photo: Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race
“Seven out of eight of our guys drive, so nobody has to drive for too long. We rotate everybody and I can’t speak highly enough of everybody in our team.”
Photo: Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race
He added that he dropped the keel on two occasions in the heaviest of the weather with 50-knot winds (92.6 kilometres an hour) buffeting the fleet, losing some ground, but keeping his boat intact.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
“In hindsight, that looks a pretty shrewd decision,” Walker said.

The stage victory leaves Walker’s team seven points clear at the top of the standings with five of the nine legs now completed.

That gap was opened up following the misfortune of a broken mast, which struck Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) early last Monday and led to their retirement from the leg two days later.

The Chinese boat is now being sailed, partly under motor, to Itajaí where its shore crew face a race against time to have the new mast refitted in time for the start of the next leg to Newport, Rhode Island, on April 19.

They will pick up eight points (low points wins) after failing to finish the stage and now stand on 16, still in second place, but only two ahead of MAPFRE and Team Brunel. Team Alvimedica are one further behind with Team SCA expected to finish on 29.

Walker, in his third race, is far too experienced to take anything for granted yet, however, despite becoming the first team to clinch their second stage win of the 2014-15 edition.

The leg was incredibly closely fought throughout its 6,776nm with MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) chasing Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing all the way to Itajaí and finishing in that order.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing beat the Spanish team by a little over 32 minutes with less than an hour separating the leading four (see panel above).

As usual, Walker barely enjoyed a wink of sleep over the final 48 hours with his pursuers no more than 2-10nm behind him all that time.

Apart from the closeness of the racing – virtually unprecedented in the 41-year history of the race – the leg will be remembered for living up to its reputation as the most fearsome in the nine-month offshore marathon.

Along from Dongfeng’s broken mast, there were at least three cases of Chinese gybes when the boats crashed to their sides before righting, and there were numerous cases of other sail and equipment breakages.

Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) had more than their share of problems, damaging three sails and then suffering a port rudder breakage on Sunday. They are expected to finish the leg on Tuesday.

In all, the fleet will cover 38,739nm and visit 11 ports and every continent. The race concludes in Gothenburg, Sweden, on June 27.

Leg 5 finishing times

1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing - 18 days 23 hours 30 minutes 10 seconds
2. MAPFRE - 19d 00h 02min 56s
3. Team Alvimedica - 19d 00h 24min 32s
4. Team Brunel - 19d 00h 25min 48s

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Itajaí Gears Up For Volvo Ocean Race Arrivals

Itajaí was gearing up for a thrilling finale to one of the most closely contested Southern Ocean/south Atlantic legs in the 41-year history of the Volvo Ocean Race with four boats still in with a chance of an epic victory on Sunday evening.
Photo: Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race
The south-eastern Brazilian port is already a major centre of race fans following the last visit in 2011-12 when tens of thousands turned out to greet the boats into their harbour. Sunday’s climax to three weeks and 6,776 nautical miles (nm) of classic, rough ocean racing could well surpass that, with excitement in the city at fever pitch already.
Photo: Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race
In 2012, PUMA were clear winners; this time it promises to be a four-way sprint all the way to the finish.
Photo: Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race
At 0940 UTC on Saturday, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) still had their noses just in front, but an incredibly tight 6.5nm separated them from fourth-placed boat Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) with MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) and Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) sandwiched in between (see panel above).
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
The leg, from Auckland, has once again lived up to its notorious reputation as a real boat-breaker. Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) were forced to retire from the stage midweek after breaking their mast on Monday. They are currently making their way to Itajaí, under sail and motor, in their own race against time to refit a new mast ready for Leg 6 to Newport, Rhode Island, on April 19.
Photo: Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE / Volvo Ocean Race
They join Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) as temporarily out of the race with the Danish boat currently undergoing a rebuild at the Persico boatyard in Bergamo, Italy, with the aim of returning to action for Legs 8 and 9 in June.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
At the back of the racing fleet, Team . SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) continue to battle on doggedly following damage to three sails, but higher pressure for them cut dozens of nautical miles off their deficit and at 0940 UTC, they trailed by around 585nm.

Team Brunel, meanwhile, added to the growing list of repairs needed in Itajaí when their key J1 sail ripped for the second time overnight.

Louis Balcaen (BEL) conceded: "This is a downer: We were doing so well; we really, really came back. And now we will miss the main sail! Acid! But we'll find something else!"

The leading boats are expected to arrive in Itajaí from 1900-2100 UTC on Sunday with tough conditions continuing to the last (see latest Watch Log).

They have one more major tack to take, midway through Saturday, before reaching Brazil. Team SCA are expected to complete the most testing of all nine legs a little over 24 hours later.

Victory would give Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing a seven-point lead at the top of the standings, but with four legs to go of the 38,739nm marathon there’s still all to sail for before offshore sailing’s leading challenge finishes on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Volvo Ocean Race Media