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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kiwis Kick Arse In Volvo Start

Alicante, Spain

CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand enjoyed the best of a fast and furious inshore course today before the most evenly matched fleet in Volvo Ocean Race history blasted out towards brutal sea conditions at the start of Leg 1.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
The 60,000 strong crowed witnessed Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe fire the gun to set the six boats on their way at 1300 GMT (1400 CET) for the start of the first ocean leg of 6,500 nautical miles to Cape Town, South Africa.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
Australian Chris Nicholson’s CAMPER were the fastest of the six boats to get away in winds gusting up to 30 knots. CAMPER increased their lead over PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG to 1 minute 39 seconds at the Alicante leaving mark at the end of the eight nautical mile course, with Team Telefónica another 36 seconds behind.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
Abu Dhabi was next, followed by Groupama sailing team, who took a voluntary two-turn penalty after a collision with PUMA’s Mar Mostro just before the start and Team Sanya.

“Our skills are offshore for sure,” said Frank Cammas, skipper of Groupama, the first French team to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race in 18 years.
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
“We are in this race for the first time so we need to learn a few things. It’s important to finish the first 24 hours in good shape because the race is very long and we don’t want to break anything early on. The first night could be the hardest of the whole leg.”
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
A huge crowd turned out to enjoy the excitement pulsing through the docks. Even the most hardened competitors were caught up in the moment as the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, the 11th edition of the race, took up a journey that will take the fleet over 39,000 nautical miles around the world, finishing in Galway, Ireland in July 2012.
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
For Kiwi sailor Sanya’s Mike Sanderson, the race’s most experienced skipper and winner of the 2005-06 edition, it is the first time he has competed in this race as a father.

“Today feels different to any race I have done,” Sanderson said, whose wife Emma competed in the 2001-02 edition on Amer Sports Two. “There are more emotions when you leave for a Volvo Ocean Race and even more so when you have to say goodbye to kids. I’d be lying if I said it was just business as usual. It means so much more.”

Professional big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton, who was on board PUMA's Mar Mostro, said he had “incredible respect” for the crews.
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
The boats departed as their team songs blasted out across the Race Village as hundreds of spectator craft waved off the six Volvo Open 70s.

Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing won the event’s curtain-raiser race last Saturday, the Iberdrola In-Port Race and with six points holds the top spot on the leader board heading out to Cape Town.
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
In Leg 1 the teams will confront the unpredictable Mediterranean, the tidal bottleneck of the Straits of Gibraltar and the strong northeasterly trade winds of the North Atlantic. Then they will face the Doldrums, a constantly-moving high pressure area found a few hundred miles on either side of the equator and notorious for being one of the toughest regions on the planet to sail through.

Once through the Doldrums the teams will search out the southeasterly trade winds close to the Brazilian shore, hoping to pick up the meteorological slingshot effect that will fire them through the South Atlantic to Cape Town.
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
In the first 24 hours of the race the teams with contest with head-on winds of more than 25 knots and choppy seas.

“The conditions at first will be ideal for these boats with fast sailing in fresh breeze,” said Gonzalo Infante, the race’s chief meteorologist. “But within about 12 hours, as the boats race into the night, they will have to punch upwind into winds around 25 knots and confused seas. These boats will be slamming around and it will be very wet on deck.”
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
Rounding positions and provisional times at the Alicante leaving mark: 1. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand 39 minutes 44 seconds, 2. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG +1 min 39 sec, 3. Team Telefónica + 2:15, 4. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing + 2:55, 5. Groupama sailing team + 3:57, 6. Sanya +7:38.

Lulu Roseman

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