MAPFRE took first blood in the opening battle of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet – with Xabi Fernández and his Spanish team finding faultless form to smash the established record time for a monohull around the Isle of Wight.
MAPFRE clocked 3 hours 13 minutes 11 seconds in strong conditions off England’s south coast to hold off Team Brunel and notch up victory in the Around the Island Race – the first in a series of four 'Leg Zero' tests acting as qualifiers for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, which starts on 22 October.
1. MAPFRE: 3 hours 13 minutes 11 seconds
2. Team Brunel: 3 hours 14 minutes 55 seconds
3. team AkzoNobel: 3 hours 15 minutes 16 seconds
4. Dongfeng Race Team: 3 hours 18 minutes 26 seconds
5. Turn the Tide on Plastic: 3 hours 24 minutes 16 seconds
6. Vestas 11th Hour Racing: 3 hours 25 minutes 10 seconds
7. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag: 3 hours 29 minutes 53 seconds
The first four of the Volvo Ocean 65s – MAPFRE, Brunel, AkzoNobel and Dongfeng – were all, subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, under the fastest previous monohull time of 3:20, set by the super-maxi ICAP Maximus.
On a grey summer’s day in Cowes, scattered patches of drizzle couldn’t obscure the brightly coloured sails of the Volvo Ocean 65 fleet as the brass cannons of the Royal Yacht Squadron boomed out the first official start signal in the build-up to this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.
MAPFRE brought their team’s Olympic experience to bear as they won the start handily, beating Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Brunel across the line. With wind from the south between 15-20 knots at the start and gusts up to 35 knots, the boats flew down the Solent on the outgoing tide.
The most recently announced team, and thus the team with the least miles in training, Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic was the only boat with a reef at the start.
They were quickly joined by the rest of the fleet as the wind built during the drag race down the Solent. After the southern point of the island the Volvo Ocean 65s were finally able to bear away onto their favourite point of sail, with navigator Joan Vila perfectly choosing MAPFRE’s course and sail changes. There was no surprise that all the top teams around the back of the island had done the previous race, with MAPFRE leading Dongfeng and Brunel.
Bouwe Bekking’s strong performance demonstrated that despite only a week’s training before today, and crew trials still underway, the 39,000 miles sailed in the 2014-15 edition are worth gold.
The boats will now regroup in Gosport as a final opportunity to prepare for the Rolex Fastnet Race, the second stage of Leg Zero, starting on Sunday. After the Fastnet, the teams complete Leg Zero by sailing from Plymouth to St Malo and then on to Lisbon.
Xabi Fernández, MAPFRE
"Of course, I’m very happy wth the crew. It’s one of our strongest points – a lot of us have sailed together already and the new people are all good people, very switched on, and things are coming together nicely.”
Bouwe Bekking, Team Brunel
“I think we sailed well and made the right sail choices. AkzoNobel have been sailing for more than a year but MAPFRE was the fastest today. All in all, a good day!”
Simeon Tienpont, team AkzoNobel
“We felt we had a solid race and it was good to be in the top of the fleet. It gives us some confidence. Absolutely, there’s a few things we can work on but we’ll also take a lot of positives out of it.”
Charles Caudrelier, Dongfeng Race Team
“Windy and wet for sure. We had a nice match with MAPFRE, had a very good day and we were fighting with AkzoNobel and Brunel. We have seen a lot of things to improve and everyone is ready. It was not an easy day!”
Dee Caffari, Turn the Tide on Plastic
"We were a bit conservative with our sailing plan but we were fast and we’re learning how to sail our boats so I am happy. It’s the first time in my whole career, with all the miles I have done, that I have steered a boat on its bow with all its rudders out of the water. It was impressive!”
Charlie Enright, Vestas 11th Hour Racing
“It never feels good to have a poor result but it’s all about the process and making sure we keep within the right times. Plenty of stuff on the list today to get better at, and actually it was pretty constructive.”
David Witt, Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag
“It was very wet, very windy and we didn’t do very well but there’s a long way to go. We can take a fair bit out of this. It was the first time we’ve ever lined up against anyone and we were right in it. Far from dire straits. If it all went well then you probably don’t learn as much.” • 2/8/17
Tienpont named a total of eight sailors from seven nations to the team on Monday – just under five months before the race starts from Alicante on 22 October.
New Zealand’s Brad Jackson, Roberto 'Chuny' Bermúdez de Castro from Spain, the Brazilian Joca Signorini and Britain’s Jules Salter are the past winners.
They are joined by Dutch Olympic silver medallist Annemieke Bes, Australia’s Luke Molloy, Danish match racing skipper Nicolai Sehested and New Zealander Brad Farrand.
“The crew I have chosen blends maturity and experience with youth and vigour,” said Tienpont, a two-time America’s Cup winner who competed in the Volvo Ocean Race in 2005-06 with ABN AMRO TWO and 2014-15 on Team Vestas Wind.
“We have an incredible depth of experience in this team, with 24 Volvo Ocean Races and five Olympic campaigns between us. In addition, we have the instinctive high performance skills of our two under-30 sailors, Brad Farrand and Nicolai Sehested, to call on.”
Annemieke Bes is the latest female sailor to be named to a Volvo Ocean Race team following a rule change last year that incentivises mixed crews. Helmsman/Trimmer Bes has represented the Netherlands at three Olympics and won silver in the Yngling at the 2008 Beijing Games.
While Bes is one of two debutants – the other being Bowman Brad Farrand – Brad Jackson will be taking on his seventh campaign in the latest chapter of a glittering Volvo Ocean Race career.
The 49-year-old Watch Leader has three victories under his belt already – with New Zealand Endeavour back in 1993-94, ABN AMRO ONE in 2005-06 and Ericsson 4 in 2008-09 – and he has never finished lower than fourth.
Watch Leader Joca Signorini and Navigator Jules Salter are also veterans of that winning Ericsson campaign in 2008-09, while Helmsman/Trimmer Chuny Bermúdez comes direct from his success on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the last edition. Signorini also sailed with Brasil 1 in 2005-06 and Telefónica in 2011-12, while Salter made his debut with Pirates of the Caribbean in 2005-06.
Chuny has competed in six previous editions of the Volvo Ocean Race, dating back to Galicia ’93 Pescanova in 1993-94. Luke Molloy and Nicolai Sehested have taken part in one Volvo Ocean Race apiece and both have experience with skipper Simeon Tienpont.
Molloy sailed on the ABN AMRO TWO campaign in 2005-06 while Sehested was on Team Vestas Wind. Both will have the role of Helmsman/Trimmer in 2017-18, with Sehested also named as Boat Captain.
While the team has an international flavour, Tienpont spoke of his huge pride at leading a campaign carrying the Dutch flag of his homeland. “To lead a Dutch team in the Volvo Ocean Race is a real privilege because this race has such a huge legacy in the Netherlands,” said Tienpont.
“The Volvo Ocean Race is incomparable with any other sporting event and we are all proud to be flying the flag for the Netherlands.” Shore team members Bryce Ruthenberg from Australia and Dutchman Eduard van Lierde have been nominated as reserve sailors.
Ruthenberg has been part of two America’s Cup victories with Oracle Team USA, while Van Lierde has represented the Netherlands twice in the Volvo Ocean Race – in 2005-06 with Brunel and in 2008-09 with Delta Lloyd.
Team AkzoNobel’s entry in the Volvo Ocean Race is backed by leading global paint and coatings company AkzoNobel. “The Volvo Ocean Race is a wonderful showcase for the unrivalled quality and high performance of our products, so it’s important this is reflected in the team itself,” said AkzoNobel CEO Ton Büchner.
“Simeon has assembled an outstanding crew of real pedigree which is fully committed to winning together and we are proud to have them on board.”
AkzoNobel’s brand new Volvo Ocean 65 is scheduled to sail for the first time in early June, with an official christening ceremony planned to take place soon after at the team’s base in The Hague, the Netherlands. The team AkzoNobel crew will then begin four months of intense on-the-water training, including a number of transatlantic crossings.
A total of four teams have so far been confirmed for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, with more to come in the next few weeks. Among AkzoNobel’s rivals will be Dongfeng Race Team (skippered by Charles Caudrelier, France), MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández, Spain) and Vestas 11th Hour Racing (Charlie Enright, USA).
The race starts from Alicante on 22 October and will cover 46,000 nautical miles, taking in a total of 12 Host Cities around the world. The finish is in The Hague at the end of June. • 5/17
COCEMFE Alicante y AMIF Villena se suben a bordo del barco del esfuerzo, la superación y la diversidad.
Entre los primeros en sumergirse en esta experiencia ha estado COCEMFE Alicante y AMIF Villena, que con un grupo de más de 40 personas con discapacidad han compartido con una decena de asociaciones de la provincia de Alicante una visita guiada en exclusiva por los más de 40.000 m2 de la Race Village.
Asistidos por un buen número de voluntarios, los grupos de personas con discapacidad han visitado algunos pabellones de patrocinadores, han estado en la zona de juegos y se han adentrado en el mundo de la vuelta al mundo a vela a través del Museo Volvo Ocean Race. Los simuladores y la zona interactiva “Another day at the office” (“Otro día en la oficia”) han sido otras de las actividades más seguidas.
El presidente de COCEMFE Alicante, Antonio Ruescas, ha destacado que “se trata de un recinto con accesos sin barreras” y ha agradecido a Alicante Puerto de Salida la “buena organización, especialmente por la formación que se ha hecho a los voluntarios sobre la atención a las personas con discapacidad y el manejo de sillas de rueda”.
“Hemos traído a unas 40 personas con distintas discapacidades, con el objetivo de participar en una jornada lúdica para conocer mejor la Volvo Ocean Race y las muchas posibilidades de ocio que ofrece el Race Village de Alicante”, ha añadido Ruescas, cuyo grupo ha asistido con mucho interés a la presentación del Team Jolokia, un equipo de regatas con base en Lorient (Francia) que promueve la diversidad y que incluye a tripulantes amateurs con discapacidad, que navegan en las principales regatas de altura del mundo a bordo de un VO’60, un modelo antiguo de barco de la Volvo Ocean Race.
Pero lo más emocionante ha sido, sin duda, subir a bordo del barco del Team Jolokia y hablar con sus tripulantes, entre ellos personas con discapacidad que defienden ante todo que “la diversidad promueve y renueva la energía de trabajo del equipo humano”. • 10/14
El nuevo Trofeo Volvo Ocean Race se ha mostrado por primera vez a representantes de los diez puertos en los que la prueba hace escala, de los equipos, de las autoridades locales y de los patrocinadores de la regata.
La presentación del espectacular Trofeo ha tenido lugar en el Cuartel General en Alicante y ha puesto fin a la primera jornada de la conferencia que se está celebrando sobre la Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.
El Vicepresidente de la Generalitat Valenciana, Gerardo Camps, acompañó a Knut Frostad, Director General de la Volvo Ocean Race en la presentación del nuevo trofeo.
Al igual que sucede en los Juegos Olímpicos, no hay premio en metálico por ganar esta regata vuelta al mundo de 37.000 millas náuticas; sin embargo, este trofeo de elegantes líneas simboliza la gloria de ganar lo que todavía es uno de los desafíos deportivos más extremos del mundo.
El mejor ejemplo de esto lo dio Mike Sanderson, patrón del ABN AMRO ONE, tras cruzar la línea de llegada en Gotemburgo, Suecia, y proclamarse campeón de la edición de 2005-06 cuando dijo: “Este es mi oro olímpico, mi monte Everest, mi sueño de la infancia.”
El diseño del nuevo Trofeo Volvo Ocean Race es el producto de un concurso extremadamente reñido que ganó la empresa española Proximma Comunicación. El trofeo, que tiene 70 cm de alto y pesa nueve kilos, consta de once anillos con forma de ola, y cada uno representa una edición de la regata. En cada futura edición se añadirá un anillo. A través del mástil que sustenta los anillos se vislumbra el océano azul escondido dentro.
Hecho de aluminio y plata, este trofeo representa una regata a la vez moderna y legendaria, con 37 años de historia. El diseño de vanguardia, la comunicación por satélite así como la tecnología e innovación han jugado siempre un papel importante en el desarrollo del evento y el nuevo trofeo refleja esto.
En cada uno de los anillos está grabado el año de una edición y la ruta, junto con el nombre del barco ganador y su patrón. El undécimo anillo se grabará al final de esta regata cuando termine en Galway en verano de 2012.
“Pensamos que el nuevo Trofeo Volvo Ocean Race abarca todas las facetas de la Regata”, explica Knut Frostad, Director General de la Volvo Ocean Race. “Es un Trofeo distintivo con una imagen moderna que muestra la visión de futuro de la regata. A la vez los anillos que representan las pasadas ediciones describen nuestro orgullo en el legado histórico que tiene la prueba.” • 16-11-10
Australian Luke Parkinson, who won the trophy as a rookie onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing last edition, will race as part of skipper David Witt’s crew – and he is joined by navigator Steve Hayles, who returns to the event after almost a decade.
Hayles made his debut as a 20-year-old onboard Reebok/Dolphin & Youth in 1993-94 – and still holds the title as the youngest ever navigator to compete in the history of the event.
He went on to make it five consecutive races over 15 years, onboard Silk Cut in 1997-98, Tyco in 2001-02, Ericsson in 2005-06 and Green Dragon in 2008-09.
Also named in Witt’s squad are New Zealand’s Mark Fullerton, who raced with Brunel in the 2005-06 edition, Briton John Fisher, Hong Kong local Tiger Mok and Australian trio David Mann, Alex Gough and Ben Piggott.
“I’m delighted to have a crew of guys I’ve known for a long time – they’re all great sailors, and we’ve done a lot of miles together over the years,” said Witt.
“Steve Hayles is the best navigator I’ve ever sailed with, and Luke Parkinson comes with bags of Volvo Ocean 65 experience. That’s one of the areas where we’re a little bit light, so he’s a big asset to us and brings a lot to the team.”
He added: “We want to create a team ethos where everyone can reach their potential in whatever their role is – and to do that, you’ve got to trust and respect each other 100%.
“We want Hayles to become a Race-winning navigator, we want Piggott to become the next Parko, and we want Parko to become a future skipper in the race.
“We’re all a team and want to succeed in a team, but we recognise that part of our role is to promote and let everyone be as good as they can in an individual role in the team without ego or conflict.”
The team, which is backed by Seng Huang Lee and Sun Hung Kai & Co., the Hong Kong-based owner of super-maxi yacht Scallywag, aims to promote competitive sailing in Asia and build a long-lasting youth sailing legacy in the region.
“Tiger (Mok) is Hong Kong born and bred, and he’s a great sailor,” continued Witt. “He will race some legs – and he’s also the backup navigator, so will do a lot of onshore navigation and work closely with Steve (Hayles).
“Having him onboard will help to build the profile of the sport in the region, and encourage kids in Hong Kong to see that there’s a real future in offshore sailing.” Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag had their first taste of competitive Volvo Ocean 65 action in the opening stage of Leg Zero – and now prepare to tackle the Rolex Fastnet Race, departing on Sunday 6 August.
He added: “We’ve finished with our squad selection for now, but the only thing that’s up in the air with us is whether we need to take more crew on the boat or not. “Right now, we’re playing catch up a little bit with all of the idiosyncrasies of the boat. We still think we’re on the right track going with minimal crew – but we’re still open, and that could change as the race draws nearer."• 8/17
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