Thursday, May 31, 2012

Victory To Abu Dhabi, Winners Of Leg 7 - Volvo Ocean Race Update

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing shrugged off seven months of frustration to secure their first leg victory on Thursday, narrowly crossing the Lisbon finish line ahead of Groupama sailing team who are on the verge of claiming the overall race lead.
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
Ian Walker’s men crossed the finish line at 21:23:54 UTC, just six minutes ahead of Groupama, after 12 days racing more than 3,5000 nautical miles from Miami, across the Atlantic to Portugal.

Just minutes before crossing the finish Abu Dhabi Media Crew Member Nick Dana said the wind was variable from 15 knots to 22 knots, adding to the tension of trying to fend off challenges from Groupama who were visible on their stern.
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
“Everybody is really giving it their all, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster coming in,’’ Dana said. “There’s a lot on the line at the moment. We’ve needed this for a while, so we’re pretty psyched to be in this position.”

After brief celebrations a visibly emotional Walker spoke to, saying that clinching victory in the leg, which they have led since May 26, was one of the greatest moments of his sailing career.
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
“Do you think you can make the last 10 miles of a race any harder than that,’’ he said.

“It’s a massive relief it was such a tough race. Everyone knows we’re not as quick as some of the other boats so we just had to make up for it in other ways.It’s one of the most amazing experiences of my sailing career, that’s for sure. We paced ourselves pretty well, we were even sleeping today.We were preparing ourselves for a while night in the river if we have to, mentally, certainly I’m exhausted, it's just such a relief."
Photo: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race
Abu Dhabi score 30 points for victory taking their total to 104 points in fifth place overall, while Groupama score 25 taking their score to 183.

Should Groupama finish two places ahead of Telefónica the French team will clinch the overall race lead, which has been held by the Spanish team since the first leg finish in November.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
Meanwhile, the battle for the remaining podium spot continues as one of the closest fought legs of the 2011-12 race heats up.PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG leading the charge, ahead of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, Team Telefónica and Team Sanya.

Volvo Ocean Race Media

It's Mathematical - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12

Abu Dhabi and Groupama Draw Swords - Volvo Ocean Race Update

With 33 nautical miles to go to the finish of Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race in Lisbon, Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) are piling the pressure on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), who are now fighting to retain their lead. Winning this leg, with Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) finishing in their current position, would also hand Cammas and his men the overall race lead with two legs to go to the finale in Galway in July.
Photo: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
At 1900 tonight Groupama 4 was just 1.4 nm astern of Abu Dhabi's Azzam as the two teams jostled for position in an unstable band of pressure, which was making it impossible for them to lay the entrance to the River Tagus. Groupama were making one knot faster than Emiratis.
Photo: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
It has been a tortuous time for Ian Walker and the crew of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, who are aiming for a first offshore podium of the race so far. Since they powered to the front on May 26, the Emiratis have been constantly under the threat of attack from the rest of the fleet, as the weather filled in from behind, bringing the fleet close enough to ruffle Azzam’s feathers on many occasions. Today has been no different and is leading to a nail-biting conclusion later tonight.
Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Ahead lies the River Tagus, which the six-boat fleet will have to negotiate under the cover of darkness in order to reach the finish set off Lisbon harbour entrance. There are 10 miles or so of coastal approach before the fleet makes the turn into the river entrance, from where the finish lies approximately five miles.
Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
It could be that this is five miles of an adverse ebb current running at up to four knots. It’s low water at midnight, with the ebb flow between 0200 and 0500 GMT. How sickening would it be to lose the race in the dying stages, but this is a very real possibility and Ian Walker and his team will not rest until they are safely across the finish. Nor will Franck Cammas and his crew, who will also be hoping that Telefónica finish well down the order.
Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA) are 18.9 nm behind the leader, but have a reasonable buffer of 12.3 nm from CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS) in fourth. Telefónica is poised to mount a challenge on CAMPER from just five miles behind. On Telefónica’s tail is Sanya with Mike Sanderson/NZL, who although 73 nm off the lead, still may be able to shake up the order tonight.
Leg 7
31/05/2012 19:01:49 UTC
Volvo Ocean Race Media

MIxed Bag For Start Of Fleet Racing At RC44 Austria Cup - Day Two

Lake Traunsee, Austria threw everything at the RC44 fleet today for the first day of fleet racing at the RC44 Austria Cup. The day started with a glassy lake that delayed proceedings. A light westerly breeze emerged as the 12 teams hit the water, only to fade away. After a drift in the sun the skies suddenly darkened and 25 knots of breeze filled the lake with white horses.
Just after 14:00 the first race got underway in a perfect 13-15 knots. Everyone seemed to want to head into the shoreline, it was Katusha (RUS) who won the pin-end of the line and seemed to get the longest lift ever before having to call for water on CEEREF and the fleet packed above. Only Aleph (FRA) and Peninsula Petroleum (GBR) had headed right into the lake, and at the first top mark it was Steve Howe steering Katusha with Brad Butterworth calling the shifts who rounded just ahead of the Slovenian Team CEEREF.
Katusha hugged the coastline again down the first run to maintain their lead at the leeward gate, but there was more wind in the middle of the lake and out of nowhere came the Dutch No Way Back, who finished third in Lake Traunsee last year, and the new Italian team AFX Capital who rounded third and fourth respectively.

Katusha headed back inshore, but it was No Way Back and Synergy who seemed to get the best out the lake, both gaining places on each leg to finish first and second in race one.
Race two swiftly followed, Katusha were in charge once again picking a nice lane in the middle of the pack. They rounded the windward mark ahead and maintained their lead until the last gybe into the leeward gate when their spinnaker spectacularly exploded.
It was Vladimir Prosikhin’s turn to take charge and the team from Russia rounded the leeward gate and looked in control before the wind did a 180 shift on the final beat. AFX Capital had to hoist their kite to make the mark, but it was the home team, AEZ, who made it round the top mark first and continued to beat to the finish line. The Austrian team finished just ahead of Torbjorn Tornqvist and the Swedish Artemis Racing with Igor Lah’s CEEREF taking third.
As the thunder and lightning struck and the rain poured, the fleet headed ashore. The home team were sitting at the top of the leaderboard, one-point ahead of the Slovenian Team CEEREF.

For AEZ’s owner and helmsman Rene Mangold it was an excellent end to a very tricky day. “The second race was tough; the wind kept changing on the last leg. You always have to watch the clouds here to try and predict what’s going to happen. We saw it coming on the last upwind under the big black clouds. The two boats ahead hoisted their kites and we saw that the breeze coming was good for us rather than them. The feeling on-board when we rounded the mark in front of everyone was very good, I was very nervous it was a lot of pressure to stay ahead. I hope we can continue.”
What the lake will throw at the fleet tomorrow is anyone’s guess but the last word has to go to race officer Peter Reggio who’s analysis of the day was “For years I felt this lake was trying to kill me but today it was just trying to make me look really stupid.”


Markus Wieser (GER) tactician, AEZ RC44 Team (AUT)

"For the guys on the boat it’s a big deal to do well here, we came out and sailed well, we were lucky in the second race with the big wind shift, but we were in the top of the fleet the whole race, we just had to play the wind shifts to get a good results. We had a lot of luck today too but we sailed well, much better than yesterday.

"There was a big thunderstorm come through at lunchtime and the breeze went up to nearly thirty knots so we had a delay until it passed and went down to under twenty knots and Peter was able to start the racing. We had a really nice first race between 13-15 knots and in the second race it dropped down to 10 – 14 knots until the rain came through were the breeze turned 180° and after that the wind was a messy 5 knots and tailing off."

Michele Ivaldi (ITA) tactician, Team CEEREF (SLO)

"It was a very tricky day, on the edge of being unpredictable especially in the last race when the wind basically shut down and filled in from the other side. We just had to race head down and work hard with what we had to get the most out of the boat. All the guys onboard did a fantastic job they kept the boat going fast all around the track and we were spot on in all of the manoeuvres, with a bit of luck today was our day."

Brad Butterworth (NZL) Tactician, Katusha

"Today was the same for everybody, its vey random and there’s a lot of luck involved with sailing here. It makes it difficult but i think we sailed very well today, Steve is helming the boat and so he’s been a pleasure to sail with, he steers the boat incredibly well and got two brilliant starts to lead around both top marks and then were a little bit unfortunate, we broke a shoot in the second race as we were going for the lead at the bottom mark, most of the fleet went around us there and we got a penalty which just compounded on it, then the beat turned in to a run and the run turned in to a beat so we got everything."

RC44 Austria Cup 2012 Ranking
(After two races sailed)

1 AEZ RC44 Team 6 1 – 7
2 RC44 Team CEEREF 3 5 – 8
3 No Way Back 1 8 – 9
4 Synergy Russian Sailing Team 2 7 – 9
5 Artemis Racing 9 2 – 11
6 Team Aqua 8 4 – 12
7 Aleph Sailing Team 11 3 – 14
8 AFX Capital Racing 4 11 – 15
9 Peninsula Petroleum Sailing Team 7 9 – 16
10 Katusha 5 12 – 17
11 Team Nika 12 6 – 18
12 RUS7 Sail Racing Team powered by 10 10 – 20

RC44 Media

Match Racing Highlights - RC44 Austria Cup 2012

Tense Times Ahead For CAMPER with ETNZ in the Volvo Ocean Race

The next 24 hours will deliver a tense end to Leg 7, the crew will have battled over 4,800 miles and it may just come down to the last hundred. This 'anything but normal' Atlantic crossing has proved to be a twisted road for the fleet, and last night was one of the most tortuous for CAMPER as they crossed the ridge of high pressure.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
Speaking onboard this morning skipper Chris Nicholson commented, “Overnight wasn't too good, we went into the ridge with Groupama & Telefonica and popped out fifth, but we believe being in the south is a better place to be overall. Even though Puma and Abu Dhabi made good miles on us overnight, we think by sticking to the south we'll be able to eat away some of those miles throughout today.”
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
This was a strategy that has paid dividends this afternoon (Thursday 31st) as the fleet started to compress as they turned their bows directly towards Lisbon. At the 1800 UTC position report CAMPER was 11nm from Puma who were currently defending third place.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
CAMPER’s strategy is based around positioning. “By staying south we should have a better angle into the finish, as we all make the final approaches the fleet is extremely spread out, normally everyone is on a straight line side by side with one another, but this time we are all finishing from wide angles. I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't lots of changes before the finish,” Chris Nicholson.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
The final miles into the finish will see the the breeze soften and the remaining section will prove even more testing. With current, darkness and tide all working against the crews as they battle for the pivotal podium positions. “The current could well be a problem, it is certainly one of the things to look at on the approach, the adverse current can be up to 2 knots, I think it will be a later finish than what is being predicted it's going to be a a very interesting night," Skipper Chris Nicholson.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
The current ETA for the first boat is from 2300 UTC on Thursday 31st into the early hours of Friday 1st June.


After Midnight, That's When Groupama Are Going To Let It All Hang Out - Groupama Update

Free of the high pressure offshore of Portugal, Groupama 4 has her sights on the finish line in front of the Belem Tower, just a few miles shy of the Emirati leader. The results of this final sprint in a good northerly breeze should be decided in the Tagus River at nightfall. Victory is still possible and second place is highly probable.
Photo: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
Midway through the afternoon this Thursday, there was barely a hundred miles left to separate Abu Dhabi, which has been leading this transatlantic sprint for the past five days, and Groupama 4, which made a spectacular comeback to the North of the Azores. The first to enter a zone of light airs, which was being dished up between the Atlantic archipelago and the Iberian peninsula, Ian Walker and his crew opted for a passage level with Porto, whilst Franck Cammas and his men preferred to position themselves fifty miles further South, so as to aim straight for Lisbon. The two VO-70s escaped the clutches of the system shortly after sunrise, with a slight edge on the American boat.

Better Angle Of Attack
Photo: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
Behind them, the chasing pack benefited from this nocturnal stalling to catch up a number of miles and at one stage the whole fleet were scattered across the race zone within just thirty miles of each other in relation to distance to the finish. As such, everything could have been turned on its head by this important wind shift from the South to the North. Fortunately, the hierarchy didn't really alter, aside from the fact that the New Zealanders saw the Spanish pass to the South of them, before they had a chance to make up the deficit further down the track...
Photo: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
At around 0700 hours this Thursday, Abu Dhabi finally reaped the rewards of its northerly option by powering up and out of the zone of calms under spinnaker. After that it was Groupama 4's turn to latch onto the northerly winds with a deficit of around fifteen miles on the leader. Between the duo, Puma was still dragging her heels in fickle breeze. Meantime, in the wake of the French boat, Camper and Telefonica were struggling to extract themselves from the high pressure trap. At that stage in the game, there were just 200 miles to go, which is when the importance of the North-South separation and the crews' ability to slip along to the finish line kicked in. Franck Cammas and his men broke through into a northerly reaching wind of around twenty knots, whilst Ian Walker and his crew had to bear away 20° further to dive down towards the entrance to the Tagus River.

Landfall By Night
Photo: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
Making an average speed of close to twenty knots in a wind which is gradually easing the closer they get to the coast, the frontrunners are expected to reach Lisbon at between 2100 and 0100 UTC. With around ten miles between them at 1400 hours UTC, uncertainty still reigns over who will be best placed to be the first to enter the Portuguese channel. Groupama 4 has the advantage of making her approach via the South, whilst Abu Dhabi's ability to make headway may be more disrupted by the wind shadow of Cascais. The wind files for the river are indicating that the grand finale of this leg will be extremely close: a mass of cloud will invade Lisbon early tonight, with more erratic breezes as the fleet attack the last fifteen miles of the course. As such, it is impossible to say whether or not the Emirati boat will be able to contain a comeback by the French boat...

If everything pans out as it should, the deltas are likely to be sufficient for these two crews not be too worried by the Americans, who have been relegated to over 30 miles back (with only 100 miles left to go). However, they themselves have a lead of some twenty miles or so over Camper, whilst the New Zealanders are being pressured by the Spanish. If the present hierarchy is respected (with Groupama 4 finishing 1st or 2nd into Lisbon), it will have been a superb leg for the French crew, who will move up into first place in the overall standing ahead of the Iberians, whilst also getting a little further away from the menace of the Americans and Kiwis!

Overall standing on leaving Miami

1-Telefonica (Iker Martinez) : 1+30+6+29+2+27+6+20+1+25+2+15+1 = 165 points
2-Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas) : 2+20+2+18+5+24+2+30+4+20+6+20+5 = 158 points
3-Camper (Chris Nicholson) : 4+25+5+24+4+18+3+15+6+15+5+25+3 = 152 points
4-Puma (Ken Read) : 5+0+4+19+3+17+5+25+5+30+4+30+4 = 151 points
5-Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker) : 6+0+3+10+6+14+4+10+2+0+3+10+6 = 74 points
6-Sanya (Mike Sanderson) : 3+0+1+5+2+5+1+5+3+0+0+0+2 = 27 points

Groupama Media

Leaders Are Hanging By A Thread - Volvo Ocean Race Update

The overall race lead is hanging in the balance as Groupama sailing team battle longstanding Leg 7 leaders Abu Dhabi for a crucial victory with just over 100 miles remaining in what has been the closest leg of the 2011-12 edition yet.
Photo: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
At 1300 UTC Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were vehemently fighting to protect an 18 nautical mile lead, one that they have held since May 26 and which promises to deliver the Emirati team their first leg victory.
Photo: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
But while Abu Dhabi were doing enough to stay clear, Groupama's more southerly position had the potential to deliver better angles in conditions that are very much the French team’s strong suit -- close reaching.
Photo: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race
Should the French team secure their second leg victory and finish two places clear of overall race leader Team Telefónica, who were struggling in sixth place at 1300 UTC, it would be enough to catapult them to the top spot, depriving the Spanish team of the lead they have held since the race started in October.
Photo: Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
The high-stakes finish in what Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker regards as one of the “blue ribbon” legs of the race is keeping the double Olympic silver medallist on high alert.

“It’s quite a tricky finish all the way to Lisbon up the river against the current and the wind is forecast to go lighter, so I’m sure there’s going to be plenty of nervous moments,’’ Walker said. “Right now, although we’re ahead of Groupama they’ve got a slightly better angle so it’s really, really close. It’s going to be right down to the wire.”
Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, currently in third place, are not giving up hope of edging back into second, a position that they have been exchanging with Groupama for the past two days.

Having survived the dreaded crossing of the 200 nm wide ridge overnight relatively unscathed PUMA skipper Ken Read said it was great to be back sailing in consistent wind, with the Portuguese trades propelling the fleet.
Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
Another challenge awaits, however, in the form of the two to four knot current that will work against the teams as they race the final miles to the Lisbon finish line.

Read said he had scoped out the waters of the finish once before, while navigator Tom Addis had been doing his usual exhaustive homework with the help of watch captain Tony Mutter, who has special insight having lived nearby.
Photo: Amory Ross/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race
“Let’s hope if we are behind it is as fluky as hell and if we are ahead let’s hope for a straight shot in,’’ Read said. “It is very frustrating to go from a dominant position to a spot where you are fighting for your life.”

In fourth place CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand are expecting to gain some miles on the top three, using their position in the south, near Groupama, to their advantage.
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
“We should have a better angle set up down south. That is yet to play out but it seems a strong possibility," skipper Chris Nicholson said.

“We are concentrating on maximising the boat speed and will be sailing flat out to the finish. To be honest, though, that is just business as usual and it’s how we have gone around the world.”
Photo: Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race
Team Sanya are in fifth place, holding a narrow lead of about seven nm over Team Telefónica in sixth.

The first team is expected to cross the finish line at 2200 UTC. A maximum 30 points is up for grabs for the winner, which could prove vital with just 14points separating the top four teams.

Currently, Team Telefónica are on top of the overall race leaderboard with 165 points, followed by Groupama, 158, CAMPER, 152, PUMA, 151, Abu Dhabi, 74, and Team Sanya, 27.
Leg 7
31/05/2012 13:20:46 UTC
Volvo Ocean Race Media