Saturday, February 4, 2012

Three Times Lucky For Telefonica - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Telefónica became the first team since Steinlager 2 in 1989-90 to win the first three legs of the Volvo Ocean Race when they held off the challenge of Groupama sailing team to arrive first into the Chinese port of Sanya on Saturday.
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
Team Telefónica, skippered by co-World Sailor of the Year Iker Martínez, finished at 03:58:22 UTC to complete the stage from the Maldives in 12 days and take 24 points. Groupama came in at 05:45:25 UTC to clinch second place.
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
With three points in the bag from their performance in Stage 1 of the leg – a one-day sprint from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah – Telefónica sealed overall victory in Leg 3. The result also sees them strengthen their position at the top of the overall standings. Groupama have a total of 24 points from the leg.
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
“You always dream to start a race like this and I just hope everything is going to keep going smooth,” said Martínez, whose team have a total of 95 points.

“I think it was by far the most dangerous leg I’ve ever done in a boat. The Malacca Strait put us in a lot of difficult situations so that’s why we are so happy. Now we start feeling more relaxed. We have a very nice boat in very good shape with only little jobs.”

Leg 3
Report: 04/02/2012 7:03:33 UTC
1TELEFIN012d 19h 58m 21s
2GPMAFIN012d 21h 45m 24s

Navigator Andrew Cape, who masterminded Telefónica’s route from the Maldives to Sanya, added: “I never thought we were going to win this leg to be honest. I just felt that something was going to go wrong because there are too many stages where I couldn’t see the outcome, so I’m really relieved to get in without anything going bad.

“Mentally it was very difficult, tactically very difficult, physically it wasn’t as tough as a long southern ocean leg but mentally it was really hard. It’s one of the toughest legs I’ve done.”

Crossing the line, Groupama skipper Franck Cammas said the result had once again boosted confidence on the French boat.

“I think we did good work on the first two legs without seeing a result but now we’re seeing results. For sure the confidence is high on Groupama 4 now.

“The last few days were very hard for the crew. There were lots of manoeuvres, we tacked about 25 times in the last 24 hours in rough seas which was very tough on the crew. It wasn’t easy but the result was we got second place.”

Telefónica´s latest victory was remarkable given the damage they suffered to their code zero sail just hours after the start in the Maldives, a setback that pushed them into last place.

After completing a repair job overseen by Jordi Calafat, Telefónica made the strategic decision, along with CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, to take a hitch to the north. Showing a loss on the leaderboard, Martínez said, “We know that the lost miles to the finish will be important, but we’re hoping that it will be better for us when we arrive at the Malacca Strait in two days’ time”.

How right he was. Sailing conditions for this drag race to Pulau We at the northern end of Sumatra were about perfect, with warm air, warm seas and clear nights lit by countless stars.

By day four, the code zero was hoisted and Telefónica rose up the order by seven miles to fourth place. They then overtook Groupama 4 to move into third place, within a mile of CAMPER in second.

Setting up for the entrance to the Malacca Strait, Telefónica took another hitch north which swapped the order again, but the leverage gained in the high lane was looking sweeter by the hour. On day five, January 26, she snatched second place and the crew’s attention turned to their final victim, CAMPER. By 1900 UTC that day, sailing two knots faster than any other boat in the fleet, Telefónica was in the lead.

Sticking to the middle of the Strait on day seven, Telefónica pressed on, dodging commercial shipping, fishing nets and all kinds of ocean debris, while CAMPER broke away towards mainland Malaysia and Groupama 4 became the new challenger.

On day eight, Telefónica’s lead was reduced to 0.4 nm from Groupama 4 and 1.1 nm from PUMA. The pressure was on, but Olympic gold medallist Martínez kept a cool head and by that evening they were leading the fleet to the open waters of the South China Sea.

Dodging the small archipelago off the eastern coast of Malaysia, Telefónica led the race through gales to the relative safety of the coast of Vietnam. On Day 12, the fiercest battle of the leg took place as the fleet beat up the coast. Tack after tack, Telefónica held off Groupama and extended her lead to win the leg, not only claiming a third victory but making history too.

Hundreds of fans flooded to the Sanya Race Village prior to Telefónica’s victorious arrival to help celebrate the official opening ceremony. A colourful array of fireworks exploded overhead as several local dignitaries addressed the crowd.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

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