VOR: The big one begins!—Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond
For ocean-racing fans, the big one began on Sunday, when the starting gun sounded off of Wellington, New Zealand, marking the start to the 6,705-mile leg five of the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR), which will take the fleet from New Zealand, around The Horn to Itajaí, Brazil. Already, Leg Five is living up to its fierce reputation as a powerful storm has churned up the water and created plenty of wind, giving the fleet zero time to acclimate to life offshore.
|Team Telefonica, skippered by Iker Martinez from Spain, in rough conditions, at the start of leg 5 from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race) Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race© |
|Bowman Daryl Wislang from New Zealand onboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, leading the fleet during the Auckland In-Port Race, in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race) - Volvo Ocean Race, In Port Race, Auckland March 17, 2012 Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race© |
But first, some in-port racing excitement. Skipper Chris Nicholson and his Emirates Team New Zealand mates powered their VO70, Camper, around the buoys 19 seconds faster than their next-quickest competition, claiming full home-turf bragging rights. 'The one thing we said all week was how do we thank everyone who has supported us,' said Nicholson. 'I hope this goes a long way to thanking them.' Groupama took second-place honors, followed by Puma Ocean Racing. Overall race leader Telefonica earned an uncharacteristic DFL for the day—a result they're already working hard to rectify.
Flash-forward to the start of Sunday's Leg Five start and Team Sanya led the fleet of six Volvo Open 70s out to sea. While the fleet immediately found themselves taking the weather on the chin, everything was going smoothly until calamity struck aboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Azzam some 50 miles into the leg when they damaged the bulkhead that supports their J4 forestay. Given that a huge portion of this leg will involve that particular sail, skipper Ian Walker and his teammates opted to point the bow back at Wellington and make proper repairs, rather than sailing under the wrong wardrobe combo, or trying to jury rig a solution at sea. 'I don't think it was a structural threat to the boat, but it would have been a big repair to get the bulkhead back in and take the load of the J4, which is a sail we're probably going to use 80 percent of the time in the Southern Ocean,' said Walker. According to the latest news, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has made repairs and Azzam has just already restarted racing, no doubt doing their best to hunt down the rest of the fleet.
|PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, skippered by Ken Read from the USA, crashing through waves in heavy weather, at the start of leg 5 from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race) - Volvo Ocean Race - Leg 5 - Day 1 Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race© |
Currently, Telefonica has taken its usual place at the top of the leaderboard as the fleet charges into the planet's roughest patch of ocean. Currently, bows are pounding and onboard conditions define 'unpleasant'. Tactically, the fleet has split into two groups, with Camper leading the charge to the north and Telefonica (and the majority of the fleet) taking the more easterly routing. Get the full VOR download, including great image galleries of the start of Leg Five, inside this issue.
One Design sailors, be sure to check out ISAF's official statement regarding the much-debated 'Ben Ainslie' incident, which took place at the 2011 ISAF Worlds. After a purported 'fouling' with prop wash and wake, ace Team GBR Finn sailor Sir Ben Ainslie—one of the most decorated Olympic sailors of all time— jumped onto a media boat and threatened its driver for his alleged poor driving. While Ainslie maintains that the driver's lack of behind-the-helm acumen cost him a World Championship, others are less convinced and felt that Sir Ben's deplorable actions deserved more than the slap-on-the-wrist reprimand that Ainslie received from the Royal Yachting Association, and which ISAF seems content to sustain.
Offshore-related but in a decidedly different competition, sailors in the Clipper Around the World Yacht Race are also getting pounded, VOR-style; the Laser World Masters have concluded, and the Extreme Sailing Series' host-venue bidding process has begun for the 2013-16 seasons. Get the long-form reports, in this issue.
|Virgin Gorda, 16/03/12
Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous 2012
Race Day 2: HANUMAN
Photo: © Carlo Borlenghi Carlo Borlenghi ©
And finally, for anyone in need of a Vitamin D injection, check out ace shooter Carlo Borlenghi's great photo gallery of Day Two of the Loro Piana Caribbean Superyacht Regatta.
May the four winds blow you safely home,
David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor
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