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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lisbon Turns On The Lights For The Flying Dutchmen

Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) completed a triumphant Leg 7 early on Wednesdayto bolster their hopes of finishing with a podium place in the Volvo Ocean Race and also keep alive the possibility of overall victory.
Photo: Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race
The Dutch boat sailed a near faultless transatlantic stage, edging MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) into second, just under 22 minutes behind.
Photo: Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race
Behind them, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) and overall leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) were playing hunt the breeze in a three-way tussle for the final podium place.
Photo: Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team / Volvo Ocean Race
If Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing finish fifth that could open the door again for Team Brunel, currently third overall, who would move within six points of the Emirati boat. Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) were just a handful of miles further astern.
Photo: Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race
Few sailors in the fleet will savour a win over one of the race’s trademark legs more than Team Brunel’s 51-year-old skipper, Bouwe Bekking, in his record-equalling seventh appearance.
Photo: Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race
He has certainly experienced the ups and downs of sailing the Atlantic. Few will forget the agonising position he faced in 2006 before he was finally forced to abandon his sinking Movistar boat during the same stage of that Volvo Ocean Race.
Photo: Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race
Bekking insisted last week that he had not lost ‘a single night’s sleep’ over the incident and the confident way that Team Brunel sailed the leg would bear that out.
Photo: Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race
Team Brunel were harried all the way over the past 24 hours by both MAPFRE and Dongfeng Race Team, especially over the final few miles in a ‘park-up’ in the Tagus River as they approached the Lisbon finish.
Photo: Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race
"We sailed a tremendous leg but just at the end when there was no wind, it was getting a bit gnarly. But we pulled it off, " said Bekkiing.
Photo: Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race
The victory was achieved with two newcomers on board, Adam Minoprio (NZL) and Timo Hagoort (NED), the latter replacing the injured Gerd-Jan Poortman (NED).
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
"It was good to have those young guys on board, they did a fantastic job," added Bekking.
Photo: Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
The final two stages, to Lorient (France) and then Gothenburg (Sweden) via a pit-stop in The Hague (Netherlands), will once again be contested by seven boats. Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) rejoin the fleet for the first time since November 29 when the boat was grounded on a reef in the Indian Ocean.

After a four-month rebuild in the Persico boatyard in Bergamo, Italy, the boat was transported by sea and road to Lisbon, arriving a few hours before the rest of the fleet in the small hours of Wednesday morning.

Over the next few days, the rig will be stepped ahead of the Danish-backed team’s competitive comeback on June 6 in the Lisbon In-Port Race. Leg 8 to Lorient, a relative sprint at 647nm, begins a day later.

The race concludes on June 27 with the In-Port Race in Gothenburg after nine months and 38,739nm of sailing, visiting 11 ports and every continent.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Volvo Fleet Charge Towards Lisbon - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Team Brunel were on Tuesday battling towards possible victory in Lisbon on Leg 7, just over two weeks after skipper Bouwe Bekking (NED) had declared that he feared their challenge for the overall Volvo Ocean Race trophy was likely to fall short.
Photo: Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race
The Dutch boat had eked out a 6.6-nautical mile (nm) advantage over MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) in optimum sailing conditions during the final ‘sprint’ towards the Portuguese capital in the transatlantic stage from Newport, Rhode Island (Tuesday, 1244 UTC).
Photo: Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE / Volvo Ocean Race
However, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) were just 3nm astern of the Spanish boat while the race’s overall leaders, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), were lagging in fifth behind Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA).
Photo: Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team / Volvo Ocean Race
Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), meanwhile, were still trekking north of the fleet, but had lost the stronger breeze which had helped the women’s crew make up an 80nm deficit on the pack on Sunday (see panel above).
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
So the 12th edition’s second and final 2,800nm transatlantic crossing is, once again, heading for a nerve-wracking, too-tight-to-call climax with the latest predictions forecasting a finish of around 0600 UTC (0700 local time) on Wednesday morning in Lisbon.
Photo: Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race
Victory in the leg will surely taste sweeter than most for Team Brunel skipper Bekking.
Photo: Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race
The 51-year-old had to order the abandonment of his sinking boat, Movistar, in the 2005-06 edition at the same stage in the mid-Atlantic, a painful episode he had assured reporters last week that he had put behind him.
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
On arrival in third place in Newport earlier this month, he had glumly conceded that his record-equalling seventh bid for offshore sailing’s leading event looked to be heading for disappointment, with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 10 points clear of his crew.

However, if the current positions stay the same on this stage, they will cut that deficit by four points and leave the Dutch with a mathematical chance, at least, of catching the Emiratis in the last two legs to Lorient and Gothenburg, the latter via a pit-stop in The Hague.

Certainly, the mood on board Team Brunel early on Tuesday was buoyant, but totally focused on the finishing line.

Their closest pursuers, MAPFRE, however, are equally determined to snatch their second leg victory following their triumph in the fourth stage from Sanya, China, to Auckland, New Zealand.

MAPFRE’S skipper Iker Martínez, the joint 2004 Olympic 49er champion with co-skipper Xabi Fernández (ESP), wrote: “Even with Team Brunel enjoying a very good advantage, the winner will not be decided until we cross the finish line. That being said, the three top boats are also in a very, very good position with regards to the rest.

“We are now focusing our energy on making the right decision as to where to cross the Traffic Separation Scheme ahead, and sailing as fast as possible as to keep up with Dongfeng and Team Brunel, and ahead of the chasing boats.”

The boat's finish in Lisbon is to coincide with the arrival there of the rebuilt Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS), which is expected to reach the city in the early hours of the morning via ship and road following a journey from Bergamo, Italy.

The fleet, seven-strong for the first time since November 29, when Vestas Wind struck a reef in the Indian Ocean on Leg 2, will then have an 10-day maintenance period before returning to competitive action on June 6 for the In-Port Race, before the Leg 8 departure for Lorient a day later.

Current latest standings (low points wins, In-Port Race Series splits ties): 1) Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 11 pts, 2) Dongfeng Race Team 17, 3) Team Brunel 21, 4) Team Alvimedica 24, 5) MAPFRE 24, 6) Team SCA 35, 7) Team Vestas Wind (Denmark) 44.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Pressure Is On - Volvo Ocean Race Update

A powerful 24-hour surge by Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) piled the pressure on overall race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) in Leg 7 on Monday, as the battle to finish first in Lisbon gathered pace.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
Team SCA navigator Libby Greenhalgh (GBR) had decided on a northern course to skirt the Azores High in the mid-Atlantic where there was more wind, and by early on Monday, they had all but wiped out an earlier 100-nautical mile (nm) deficit on the leaders to bring them right into play.
Photo: Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
By 0942 UTC on Monday, they had overtaken Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and were challenging other boats in the pack, which was being led by Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), just over 17nm ahead in the 2,800nm stage from Newport, Rhode Island, USA, to Lisbon, with MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) hard on their heels (see panel above).
Photo: Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race
The push by Team SCA left Azzam in an unaccustomed position at the back of the fleet, with their six-point advantage at the top of the overall standings under real threat.
Photo: Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team / Volvo Ocean Race
Before the race started last October, their British skipper Ian Walker had targeted a top-three podium finish on each leg to secure overall victory. Until this point, that plan has been carried out to perfection and has included two leg wins, leaving Walker’s crew with what looked like a firm grip at the top of the standings with two stages to go after this leg.
Photo: Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE / Volvo Ocean Race
The Chinese entry, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), are currently third, just 1nm astern of Team Brunel. In the overall standings, they trail Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing by six points in second place and have the opportunity to make big inroads into that lead with a strong finish in this transatlantic leg.
Photo: Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race
Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), chasing a first leg victory, are right in the mix of the action too, just 10.7nm adrift and holding fourth place. The six boats are now heading for a ‘drag race’ – straight-line racing in good winds and sea state – for Lisbon. They are expected to arrive on Wednesday (May 27) morning between 0500-1200 UTC.
Photo: Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race
After an 11-day stopover in Lisbon for boat maintenance, the fleet will restart on June 7for the final two legs to France (Lorient) and Sweden (Gothenburg), the latter via a pit-stop in The Hague. The race concludes in Gothenburg on June 27 after covering 38,739nm in nine months and visiting 11 ports and every continent.
Photo: Courtesy of Volvo Ocean Race
Current latest standings (low points wins, In-Port Race Series splits ties): 1) Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 11 pts, 2) Dongfeng Race Team 17, 3) Team Brunel 21, 4) Team Alvimedica 24, 5) MAPFRE 24, 6) Team SCA 35, 7) Team Vestas Wind (Denmark) 44.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Saturday, May 23, 2015

What the Sailors Said - 52 Super Series, Valencia - Day 5

Andres Soriano (USA) Owner-Driver Alegre (GBR):
Photos Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
"I never thought that we would be in second position in this regatta and that we would win the first race of the 52 Super Series. I would have been crazy to think that. We have done a good job in the pre-season. We had a very good practice at PalmaVela where we competed with some good teams and gathered valuable information. 
Photos Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
"Finally we had a five day hard practice in Valencia before this regatta. We know each other well because we have sailed together a lot, I have sailed with John Kostecki and Kelvin Harrap for a long time so its easy to work in a new boat when the crew all know all each other. Onboard my boat I have a lot of nationalities which I like because its like in my life.
Photos Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
"We only really made one mistake it was the fourth day because we weren’t fully focused and when you do something wrong in this fleet it is very expensive. Here we have been fighting with Rán and its funny because we have been fighting in all the regattas we have met during the last 6 years."

Ross MacDonald (CAN) Tactician Sled (USA): 
Photos Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
"We are ecstatic. The goal was to be in the game. We have a whole list of things we need to work on as I’m sure do the other teams but we are already looking forward to the next event and addressing those and seeing how we go. 
Photos Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
"I think for the most part we did a pretty good job of staying out of trouble going upwind so I think the boat is set up really nicely and Mr Okura does a pretty good job steering the boat. And we feel really comfortable. Downwind to be honest we have got a bit of work to do, we just need more sailing more than anything else. But we are happy."

Morgan Larson (USA) Tactician Rán Racing (SWE): 
Photos: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
"It was a fantastic day on the water, great to have two races in top end conditions. Finally in the 15-16 knot range when the boats are all moving along real quick. It was nice to have a little more breeze, it felt like that gave the advantage back to our team. 
Photos: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
"The team has been together for a long time. Obviously there have been a few changes but the main one was Adam Beashel and myself but Adam was spot on all week and that was one of the main reasons we won."

52 Super Series Media 

Rán Take the Crown In Valencia - 52 Super Series

From the biggest and most competitive fleet yet, Niklas Zennström and the Rán Racing team won the first regatta title of the 2015 Super Series when they kept their focus under the weight of final day pressure.
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
With Zennström steering and tactician Morgan Larson and strategist Adam Beashel they achieved the required balance between proactive attack and consolidation to convert this morning’s six points margin to finish ahead of rivals Alegre, Andy Soriano’s series debutants.
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
Valencia’s Malvarrosa Beach race course delivered perfect conditions for the super Saturday showdown, one light seabreeze contest in 6-8kts and a breezier finale in 14-16 knots to complete a maximum possible complement of 11 races.
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
Rán Racing laid the foundations of their title victory when started with three second places and a race win. Then they had to come right back on form after a wobbly three race Thursday when they added a weighty 22 points to their scoreline.
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
Showing considerable composure they made a necessary recovery in the first contest today, rising from ninth to sixth. And in the second race Rán did what they had to do, sticking close to their rivals to clinch their first regatta title since winning the TP52 World Championships in Miami in 2013.
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
The international team which races under Zennström’s Swedish flag finally broke their 2014 hoodo. Since they joined the circuit in 2011 Rán have won a regatta each year until last year when they won almost all the practice races. 
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
They add to regatta titles in 2011 Barcelona in their first year on the MedCup, Palma’s Royal Cup in 2102 the first year of the 52 Super Series and the world title in 2013. But last year they were the team which won almost all the practice races, often lead regattas but never quite sealed the deal. In is particularly pleasing for the tall Swede to come out on top of this regatta which confirms the 52 Super Series, of which he is one of the founding, visionary stakeholders, to be in robust health.
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
"Its fantastic to win this first regatta of the year with this bigger fleet. Its been a really tough week and we have been fighting hard so we are very pleased. We have been working really hard as a team, winning together and we have been learning about the new boat and Morgan Larson, Adam Beashel and Steve Hayles in the afterguard have done a really good job calling the right shots, we had good boat speed and good starts," Zennström said.
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
"We haven’t had so much time to get up to speed with the boat, we just had a few days commissioning the boat so this was the first regatta, but Adam sailed with us at a few regattas last year and Morgan sailed with us in 2011 so we all know each other well," he added.
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
"There are 12 boats here which can win regattas, so the boat which wins this year is going to be a really good victory. All of these boats can win. It’s amazing. In 2012 we were basically only four boats and now this is the best monohull racing in the world. We will get more and more boats and owners joining and racing at very high levels. The sailing this week has been amazing. It is such a good fleet."
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
Alegre, Andy Soriano’s programme, proved they have all the talent and hardware to win on the 52 Super Series. They lead after Thursday but then had their own bogey day Friday with an eighth and ninth. With tactician John Kostecki and strategist Kelvin Harrap placing the boat consistently well and no shortage of speed across the wind range, they highlight themselves as 52 Super Series overall contenders.
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
"I never thought that we would be in second position in this regatta and that we would win the first race of the 52 Super Series. I would be crazy to have thought that. I think we did a good job in the pre-season. We had a very good practice at PalmaVela where we competed with some good teams and gathered valuable information. Finally we had five days hard practice in Valencia before this regatta," Soriano said.
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
"We only really made one mistake it was the fourth day because we weren’t fully focused and when you do something wrong in this fleet it is very expensive."
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
The level of racing proved to be above and beyond most expectations. Runners up overall in 2014 Azzurra took time to get firing on all cylinders, finding tiny early mistakes too costly. But today the team of the Roemmers family which sails for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda finished on the perfect note on which to head to the next regatta on their own Costa Smeralda home waters. Two magical back to back wins brought the biggest smiles back to the Azzurra camp, proving they too are finding their mojo.
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
Race wins were shared among the top five finishers. Rán Racing, Alegre, Sled and Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec all won two apiece while Azzurra’s tally included three wins. Takashi Okura’s quiet consistency on Sled sees them finish in third place, Azzurra finished just one point behind in fourth, tied on 54 points with hull sistership Bronenosec.
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
As predicted there is very, very little speed differences between the nine newly built and launched TP52s all from the design offices of Botin Partners and Judel/Vrolijk. Rán Racing is from the Vrolijk office, Alegre and third placed Sled from the Spanish Botin team.
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
A strong fleet is expected for the next regatta of the 2015 season on the Costa Smeralda in two weeks time.
Photo: Martinez Studio/52 Super Series
Final standings Ford Vignale Valencia Sailing Week

1. Rán Racing, SWE (Niklas Zennström SWE) (2,1,2,2,10,5,7,4,1,6,5) 45pts
2. Alegre, GBR (Andre Soriano USA) (1,3,1,5,2,9,2,8,9,5,3) 48pts
3. Sled, USA (Takashi Okura JPN) (7,11,3,3,3,1,11,1,3,3,7) 53pts
4. Azzurra, ITA (Pablo/Alberto Roemmers ARG) (6,5,5,9,1,8,5,5,8,1,1) 54pts
5. Bronenosec, RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS) (8,6,6,1,9,6,1,6,5,4,2) 54pts
6. Quantum Racing, USA (Dalton DeVos USA) (4,7,8,6,6,11,3,3,10,2,8) 68pts
7. Platoon, GER (Harm Müller-Spreer GER) (3,8,11,4,7,2,12,7,7,10,4) 75pts
8. Provezza, TUR (Ergin Imre TUR) (5,2,7,8,8,7,6,12,2,7,12) 76pts
9. Interlodge, USA (Austin/Gwen Fragoman USA)(10,4,4,10,11,12,4,2,4,12,6) 79pts
10. Paprec FRA (Jean-Luc Petithuguenin FRA) (9,10,12,12,4,3,9,11,12,9,10) 101pts
11. Gladiator, GBR (Tony Langley GBR) (11,9,9,7,12,4,10,10,11,8,11) 102pts
12. XIO, ITA (Guiseppe Parodi ITA) (12,12,10,11,5,10,8,9,6,11,9) 103pt

52 Super Series Media