Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Very Very Gently Does It When Loading Volvo Boats - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Attention switched to a delicate operation to load the Volvo Ocean Race yachts onto a ship that will transport them to the United Arab Emirates following Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s arrival at a secret ‘safe haven’ in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
Abu Dhabi arrived in fifth place, the final boat that will be shipped following the arrivals of stage winners Team Telefónica followed by CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG and Groupama sailing team.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
“I am upset not to have finished with a better result but on the other hand after the disaster of breaking our mast on Leg 1 I feel a strange feeling of relief to have at least completed the first part of the second leg,” Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker said.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
As part of a raft of measures introduced by race organisers to counter piracy in the Indian Ocean, Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race has been split into two parts with the location of the safe haven kept secret.

As soon as Telefónica arrived on Monday, work began to prepare her for the risky loading operation, an unprecedented move in the 38-year history of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
The five 15-tonne yachts are being craned 40ft into the air onto a ship with their 100ft masts still in place before being transported to the northern United Arab Emirates. Neither the sailors nor the shore crews will be on board the ship during the transit.

Telefónica and CAMPER were first to be loaded in calm seas followed shortly by PUMA’s Mar Mostro. Groupama 4 and Abu Dhabi’s Azzam should be loaded in the next few hours.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
The ship’s loadmaster said: “Things are going exactly to plan so far. And I’m hopeful that all of the boats will be lifted on safely by this evening.”

It is thought the ship will leave for the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, with the arrival due early in January. The boats will then be unloaded and the leg will restart to Abu Dhabi, the Volvo Ocean Race’s first ever Middle Eastern stopover.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
Team Telefónica will enter 2012 at the top of the overall leaderboard after picking up 24 points for winning the dramatic first stage of Leg 2 by an impossibly tight margin shortly before 1800 UTC on Monday.

They move seven points ahead of CAMPER, who they pipped to the line by one minute and 57 seconds after more than 4,000nm of racing.PUMA Ocean Racing followed just over five hours later with Groupama coming in three hours later still.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
“We went into this leg with confidence,” said a disappointed PUMA skipper Ken Read. “It’s a bit of a shame because we had a couple of points in this leg where we did really the right thing and put ourselves in the right position.”

Groupama skipper Franck Cammas added: “It’s frustrating because five days ago we were imagining winning the leg.

“The Doldrums was bad, and then the light spots at the end were bad. We know these conditions are not good for our boat and for our speed but for sure we didn’t manage the start very well.

“Maybe we were too frustrated before and we tried to come back with an option that was just too risky. It was a mistake, I think. We need to be more patient and not fight all the time for first place.”

Team Sanya, the sixth boat in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, were forced to suspend racing and head for Madagascar after suffering rigging damage while in the lead on Day 9.

Their current focus is on getting the boat in the best shape possible for Leg 3 into their home port of Sanya in China.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

The Doldrums Dump On Groupama - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Groupama sailing team had to settle for fourth place in Leg 2, Stage 1 after disappointment in the Doldrums cost them a hard won lead.
Photo: Yann Roui/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race 
Franck Cammas and Groupama 4 began Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi with such promise, leading the fleet on day two. But they quickly descended into last place on day four after splitting from the fleet and heading south, following the old adage ‘if you don’t know where to go in the Atlantic, you have to go west; and if you don’t know where to go in the Southern Ocean, you have to south’. It was a move reminiscent of their Leg 1 strategy where they chose to plough a lonely furrow, away from the main body of the fleet.
Photo: Yann Roui/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race 
The five other teams watched intently as they herded east. Last place belonged to Groupama 4 until December 18, day eight, when the team at last started to make good progress and rose to second place, their southerly gamble placing them further east, giving them a more constant breeze and a better angle of sailing . “We have ended up in a different option for two legs now,” said an undeterred Cammas. “It certainly comes from our experience with multihulls in France,” he explained.
Photo: Yann Roui/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
On day 10, 0700 UTC December 20, Groupama 4 became the new leader, having a clear advantage over the rest of the fleet and enjoying true trade wind sailing at its best. Beam reaching at 20 knots, it was the French team’s easterly position that had paid dividends at last, while the rest of the fleet was battling uncomfortable headwinds. “We are leading at the moment and it’s great,” wrote Cammas. “There are lots of smiles on the faces when the reports come in now,” he said.
Photo: Yann Roui/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
But the Doldrums was fast approaching, and Cammas needed to put as many miles as he could between Groupama 4 and the chasing pack. On day 11, Cammas had just 24 hours to translate his 45 miles of lateral separation into distance ahead. The team was focused, teasing every ounce of speed out of the boat in order to give themselves the best shot possible at crossing the 300-mile belt of Doldrums in the lead.
Photo: Yann Roui/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
They continued to set a blistering pace, extending their lead at every opportunity. “The race is far from over,” Cammas said. “We will enter the light wind area and the fleet will compress,” he forewarned. But, for the moment, the French rocket ship was in first place and led the fleet into the stealth zone put in place to protect the boats from unwanted attention of pirates.
Photo: Yann Roui/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
Cammas took Groupama 4 into the Doldrums at the western end and her speed started to decrease and, on day 13, December 23, Cammas relinquished his lead to Telefónica. Groupama’s lead of 70 nm had slowly dissolved and by 1900 UTC that night, the team was in deficit by 62 nm. The team was disappointed, their hopes dashed by the minefield of clouds and squalls. “Offshore racing is like that,” wrote MCM Yann Riou. “One day you feel very strong, the next very miserable. You have to take it as it is, or do another job,” he said.
Photo: Yann Roui/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
Groupama 4 had maintained third position on Christmas Day, but on Boxing Day, PUMA’s Mar Mostro had stolen her spot after a night of intense racing. Although it was down to the wire for the leading pair, Telefónica and CAMPER, PUMA’s Mar Mostro was now a safe 15 nm ahead and Groupama 4 finished outside the top three. Groupama finished at 0204:20 UTC, more than two hours behind PUMA, and eight hours behind Telefónica and CAMPER.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

PUMA's Mar Mostro Keeps Groupama 4 At Bay To Take Third - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Ken Read and his crew on board PUMA’s Mar Mostro took third place in the first stage of Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi on Monday, holding off one-time leg leaders Groupama 4 for the 16 points.

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crossed the finish at 2333:10 UTC, more than five hours behind Team Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) who snatched his second leg win earlier today from CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS).

It has been a difficult leg for the crew of PUMA’s Mar Mostro who were forced to retire from Leg 1 due to dismasting in the South Atlantic Ocean. “We have all had our moments, but the chemistry of the crew has never been better,” said skipper Ken Read.

The tough time began for the crew of Mar Mostro on day five, when the fleet was in the grips of a menacing trough separating two belts of low-pressure. At the time, Read described the conditions as some of the most frustrating and mentally exhausting of his sailing career.

Although the team was briefly in and out of the top three, enjoying a battle with Telefónica for first place in trade wind sailing on day nine, and again on day 11 with Groupama 4, it was Read’s decision to take the westerly side of the Doldrums for which he ultimately paid a high price.

The team made the call to go east, a move that both Telefónica and CAMPER had made earlier with great success, but it was a late and expensive decision. On day 12, December 21, the black cat was barely making five knots and had dropped from second place to fourth, over 78 nautical miles behind Telefónica.

On day 13, Read wrote: “It’s been a long day and it is the ultimate frustration. You work you butt off to get into a really nice position and then it comes crashing down on you.” By day 14, the situation was worse still and PUMA’s Mar Mostro was 133 nm behind CAMPER who had become the new leader. By Christmas Eve, PUMA was over 150 nm behind and still losing miles. “Nobody ever said this sport was easy, but man, I don’t think it needs to be this hard,” Read said.

The fight to get back in the game started on Christmas Day, when Mar Mostro started to pull back some miles. Early on Boxing Day she had passed Groupama and the team managed to hold off the French to claim the 16 points on offer for the third podium spot tonight and retain fourth place overall.

“We went into this leg with confidence,” Read said today as he approached the finish. “It’s a bit of a shame because there were a couple of points in this leg when we did really the right thing and put ourselves in the right position, but there was really one key moment when we entered the Doldrums that didn’t work for us and that was disappointing for us for sure.”

Volvo Ocean Race Media

Monday, December 26, 2011

Telefonica Take Leg 2 - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Team Telefónica will charge into 2012 as leaders of the Volvo Ocean Race after snatching victory over CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand in a thrilling finish to the first stage of Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
The final 24 hours came down to an intense match race between Iker Martínez’s Telefónica, winners of Leg 1 from Alicante to Cape Town, as well as the Cape Town In-Port Race, and CAMPER.

The stakes were high as the two teams headed towards the secret safe haven, with CAMPER needing to finish in front to leapfrog Telefónica to go top of the leaderboard.
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
Chris Nicholson’s team got close, leading for long periods over a thrilling final battle between Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but in the end Telefónica came through, grabbing the definitive lead with just eight nautical miles to go.

They held on to finish at 1757.20 UTC on Monday, just one minute and 57 seconds ahead of CAMPER.
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
"It was a really complicated race and we were fighting all the way through," Martínez said. "For sure, it was really, really tough."

The result remains provisional after CAMPER informed race management they had raised a protest flag over a manoeuvre made towards the end of the race.
Photo: Diego Fructuoso/Team Telefonica/Volvo Ocean Race
Telefónica claimed 24 points for first place in the first of a two-stage, 5,430 nautical mile (nm) leg to from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi, where 80 per cent of the available points have been awarded. CAMPER take 20 for second.

The provisional leaderboard sees Telefónica top with 61 points, followed by CAMPER on 54.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
The finish line was set at an undisclosed destination to protect the six-boat fleet from pirate activity. The boats will now be shipped to a point off the Sharjah coastline in the northern United Arab Emirates in time to start what is sure to be an exciting, day-long sprint to Abu Dhabi in early January for the remaining 20 per cent of the leg points.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG are currently in third place, followed by Groupama sailing team in fourth and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing fifth. Team Sanya were forced to suspend racing and head for Madagascar, where they are repairing the rig and focusing on getting in shape for Leg 3 to their home port of Sanya in China.

After a brief period at the head of the fleet for both CAMPER and Telefónica as they fought light airs out of Cape Town, both found themselves at times near, or even at the back of the fleet.

On day four, December 14, Telefónica crossed the notorious Agulhas Current off Port Elizabeth first with CAMPER in fourth place, 44 nm behind the blue boat. As the fleet fought to free themselves from a trough that had formed between two low-pressure systems, it was Telefónica who was still looking sweet, while CAMPER had slipped another 20 nm back. The pot of gold which was the new northerly breeze waiting on the far side of the trough seemed frustratingly out of reach.

After a couple of false starts when the weather gods gave the fleet a brief taste of northerly breeze and then whipped it away, it was Telefónica who found it first and swooped into the lead with CAMPER relegated to fifth place 74 nm behind.

“It’s almost like a sport now to beat this trough line,” said CAMPER’s Chris Nicholson on day six, December 16. “It’s got a personality of its own, and I must say, I don’t like it. It is extremely stubborn and it is refusing to let us through.”

Martínez and Nicholson took the middle road to the east in a move, which ultimately set the pair up for a swift crossing of Doldrums. Telefónica still led, but the comeback kids on board CAMPER were only 2.2 nm behind, and the battle began at 35 degrees south. By day seven, after only 1,700 nm of racing, CAMPER temporarily regained lead and the fleet finally broke free of the trough.

The endless days of no wind and icy cold rainsqualls were now a distant memory as Telefónica, back in front, led PUMA Ocean Racing and CAMPER into some typical trade wind sailing under a shining sun and warm water spray.

It was all about boat speed and straight line sailing on day 11, December 21, but both Telefónica but CAMPER had slipped down the order and were now 93 and 115 nm behind the new leader, Franck Cammas’ Groupama 4 who came swooping in from their position far south.

As the fleet split in opinion on how best to tackle the Doldrums, Telefónica and CAMPER, in third and fourth, set up for the eastern end and began to make steady gains as the fleet compressed on Groupama 4.

By Day 13, December 23, Telefónica had jumped to the lead with CAMPER just 6.7 nm behind nipping at their heels. Their tour through the eastern Doldrums belt had paid off handsomely with boat speeds averaging 15 knots, while the rest of the fleet languished under big clouds with sails flapping.

The CAMPER crew had an early Christmas present, reclaiming the top of the leg leaderboard on Christmas Eve but any festive thoughts were dismissed as the teams prepared for the final battle to the finish with no prospect of a truce. The final day’s racing saw the lead change on numerous occasions with just 100 metres separating the two teams for long periods. As night fell at the safe haven port it was Team Telefónica who emerged as the final victors in the closest of contests.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

The 2011 UK-Halsey Boxing Day Dash - Melbourne, Australia

After such an interesting time in Melbourne yesterday afternoon and evening, it was fantastic to see 96 of the 102 entries in the 2011 UK-Halsey Boxing Day Dash make the start line.
Photo: © Alex McKinnon  
Unless you were in a different town for Christmas, you would have been hard pressed to miss that there was more water in the streets yesterday than in the Bay itself. Now that is more than a slight exaggeration, but the point is still valid. Swimming, not yachting was the idea.
Photo: © Alex McKinnon  
In 1976, the trophy was first awarded as part of the precursor to getting the fleet down to the bottom of Port Phillip, ready to be re-started the following day on the best suitable tide. By 1979, the event had grown so popular that now just over half the fleet is not continuing on the next day in any of the ORCV’s Tassie Trio of races to the Apple Isle.
Photo: © Alex McKinnon  
The UK-Halsey Boxing Day Dash is the first race, from right around the entire country, to get away on December 26. The attraction of an all-in fleet start gets the crews very motivated, however six were a little too exuberant and called On Course Side. Unfortunately, just the two of them returned, so the other four have had a bad day. PB Towage sent the firefighting tugboat, PB Plenty, out to add to the spectacle of the day and it very much worked. Speaking of spectacles, by the end, you would even need your sun variety, but more about all that later.
Photo: © Alex McKinnon  
A solid 18-knot Sou’souwester and a lumpy 1m sea greeted the fleet under a grey sky with the hint of sunny patches. Perhaps this is why the retirements started early and kept coming as the day wore on. In the end, seven vessels called it quits, but thankfully, damages were insignificant, which is always fantastic to not see. Interestingly, the breeze would climb in to mid-20’s as the day got sunnier.

There are many stories inside an event like this. Watching three Beneteau First 40s finish within a couple of minutes of each other is great, as too were the crews hiking hard for the last part of the charge along the Mornington Peninsula. Equally, there was an armada of cruising type vessels allowing many types of sailors to partake in the event.
Photo: © Alex McKinnon  
“Great to see so many out, given the weather this morning, especially the cruising type boats. One of the main reasons we have got behind this terrific day long event, as UK-Halsey, is because it does draw out all manner of boats and styles of vessels, which is exactly whom we cater for as a premier sail maker, looking after the core of yachting right around Port Phillip.” said Sam Haines of UK-Halsey.

Ultimately, Gusto won the 2011 UK-Halsey BDD arrived at 15:13:55, with Goldfinger next 15:28:18 and XLR8 in third at 15:40.30. A win is a win, but it is a bit of a shame for Gusto, who was just under four minutes short of her own record. Brian Pattinson, Gusto’s Skipper, said, “It was a good day. Certainly wet and windy, but with no breakages, we’re all set for tomorrow’s Eastcoaster down to Hobart.

International Rule, Club (IRC) is the premier racing category and provisional results in Division One, have eXtasea take it from Bandit and Goldfinger. In Division Two, it was Mercedes III, from Stitched Up and White Noise. The Australian Measurement System (AMS) is ever growing in popularity and in Division One, the truly consistent Alibi took it from Bandit and eXtasea. Division Two in AMS was taken out by Avanti from Stitched Up and then Mercedes III.

Finally, Veloce took out the Performance Handicap (PHS) Division One, which is great when you think they’re off to Hobart tomorrow. Alibi and Bandit, who are also going in the Heemskirk Eastcoaster to Hobart tomorrow, were second and third. One of the largest vessels out there and competing for the first time, Sympatico, won PHS Division Two. Déjà Vu was second. Third was Avanti, who collected some loot last year as well, so we think they’ll certainly be back for 2012, as too will be out great sponsor, UK-Halsey.

The Cruising Division is another new category gaining great attention. Fantasy of Man took that from Ingara and then Adamant.

“Great to see a pretty clean start, when it was such dark and gloomy day, backing up from the night’s tempest. We believe the measure of a successful event is seeing the number of smiles out on the water and at the destination port,” said ORCV Race Director, George Shaw.

For further information visit orcv.org.au

John Curnow

CAMPER and Telefonica Battle for Bon Bons - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Team Telefónica and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand are engaged in a close quarters battle for the lead as they approach the finish of the first stage of Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.

For almost a day the two teams, who lie in first and second overall, have at times been within shouting distance of each other as they head for a likely photo finish at the safe haven port.

With 24 points on offer for first place and 20 for second, whoever gets there first will top the leaderboard ahead of the leg’s second stage into Abu Dhabi.

After exiting the Doldrums in second place Telefónica inexorably ground down CAMPER’s lead, closing to within two nautical miles on Christmas Day. Since then the contest has got even closer with the pair trading the lead several times today.

“[They have been] about four or five boat lengths, 100 metres away,” said Telefónica watch captain, Neal McDonald earlier today. “We have been like that for the last 20 hours.”

The sailors are exhausted, having had little sleep for days on end, but with the overall race lead riding on the result, there is no chance for rest and both crews have everyone awake to coax the maximum speed out of their boats.

At 1300 UTC today and with the breeze having dropped to 7 knots, CAMPER were maintaining their lead, but only just. As darkness fell this evening CAMPER helmsman Adam Minoprio described the intensity of the racing:

“Right now the atmosphere is incredibly tense,” he said. “Telefónica are less than 100 metres behind us and we have everyone up working the boat as hard as we can. The darkness will just serve to ratchet the tension up even more.

“It’s been this close for hours now, in fact for the last few days we have been sailing within in sight of each other almost all the time.

“Tactically it should be straightforward now as we are heading directly towards the finish, but we still need to be very careful and make sure we match their speed and stay between them and the line.”

Meanwhile, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG have moved into third after over hauling Franck Cammas' Groupama sailing team.

“We’ve had a good day and a half and managed to position ourselves so that we managed to get back past Groupama,” said PUMA skipper Ken Read “Now we are feeling good and sailing well and have managed to start to build a margin over the French.”

Read said he was disappointed not to be challenging for the lead and cited a difficult Doldrums crossing as the reason why.

“We didn’t get it right at all and Tom [Addis – navigator] and I have talked long and hard about how we can work on our positioning in those situations in the future.

“For sure there were some frayed nerves on board in the Doldrums but that’s why we have this remarkable team who can deal with setbacks and just move on.”

Groupama had themselves previously held a big lead on the fleet before also falling foul of the Doldrums, as skipper Franck Cammas explained:

"It’s frustrating for us because a few days ago our thoughts were about winning the leg,” he said. “But now I think there is no chance of catching PUMA now and we just have to accept the result.

“This is our first Volvo Ocean Race and we are continually learning. We learn by our mistakes and we have learned a lot that way during this section of the leg. I feel we have improved and we will come back stronger in the second part of the leg."

Having struggled to re-engage with the fleet in the Doldrums Ian Walker's Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing lies in fifth, around 110 nautical miles adrift of the leaders.

“It was a tough leg for us once we split from the fleet in the Southern Ocean section,” said Media Crew Member (MCM) Nick Dana. “Each team was sailing very well and it seemed as if we were always just falling off the systems that were carrying the leaders ahead.

“In the end we had one last go at the leaders, making up a massive amount a miles in a matter of 24 hours coming into the Doldrums. But again, the fleet was sailing very consistently and each managed to protect their lead on us.

“Now we are looking forward to part B of the journey, and getting home to Abu Dhabi.”

On CAMPER, MCM Hamish Hooper said he expected the close tussle with Telefónica to go on all the way to the finish line tonight.

“It will be full on, close quarters, neck and neck, all guns blazing racing all the way down to the wire.

“I think most of the guys will pretty much collapse once we cross the finish line. But that’s OK - they can sleep as long as they want after that, but believe me they will be doing everything possible to make sure they will be sleeping contently having crossed the finish line first.”
Leg 2
Report: 26/12/2011 13:01:30 UTC
1CMPR (STE)0.0008.8
2TELE (STE)0.3009.5
3PUMA (STE)47.4029.4
4GPMA (STE)69.0057.3
5ADOR (STE)110.00510.5
-SNYASuspended Racing
Volvo Ocean Race Media

Leaders Live on The Knife's Edge - Volvo Ocean Race Update

It is down to the wire for the top two boats this Boxing Day with the pair throwing punches at each other in a bid to draw head. Overnight, Iker Martínez/ESP and his men temporarily overthrew Chris Nicholson/AUS and CAMPER’s lead, but at 1000 UTC, Nicholson was back at the top of the leg leaderboard with Telefónica just half a mile astern and averaging 11 knots, half a knot slower than CAMPER.

“Boxing Day is appropriate because we have a full on street fight right here with Telefónica over my shoulder,” wrote CAMPER’s co-skipper Stu Bannatyne/NZL earlier this morning. “The guys are working on getting every ounce of boat speed out of the boat. The conditions are pretty light, so we are just trying to milk everything out as of it as we go along. It’s going to be a very long day,” he said.

After several thousand miles of ocean racing it is nothing short of a match race for the leading pair. “Every metre, every run is decisive,” describes Team Telefónica’s MCM, Diego Fructuoso.

It was a very intense night for these two boats as they fought it out under warm and cloudless starry skies. The crews are exhausted after this extended battle, many of them only having had snatched sleep for days on end. “It will be full on, close quarters, neck and neck, all guns blazing racing all the way down to the wire,” says Hamish Hooper, MCM on board CAMPER.

Meanwhile, in third place, Ken Read/USA has been able to draw PUMA’s Mar Mostro 15 nautical miles (nm) ahead of Franck Cammas and Groupama 4, while Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam (Ian Walker/GBR) is still over 115 nm in arrears.

Leg 2
Report: 26/12/2011 10:01:24 UTC
1CMPR (STE)0.00211.4
2TELE (STE)0.50011
3PUMA (STE)49.20010.2
4GPMA (STE)64.4029.6
5ADOR (STE)115.4029.9
-SNYASuspended Racing
Volvo Ocean Race Media