Brutal start to Volvo Ocean Race - a media perspective
by Martin Tasker, ONE Sport on 7 Nov 2011
International yachting commentator, Martin Tasker, describes a tumultuous first 24 hours after the start of the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race:
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s yacht Azzam, skippered by Britain’s Ian Walker, returns to Alicante, Spain after the mast broke in rough weather on the first day of racing on leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. Nick Dana/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing /Volvo Ocean Race http://www.volvooceanrace.org
Traditionally in round the world races the shore crews celebrate their boat's departure with a 'thank God they've gone' party.
But there was little of the party mood in Alicante when news filtered back just hours after the start of the Volvo Ocean Race that Abu Dhabi Ocean had broken its mast and was on it way back to port.
I was about to have a late dinner with some of the TV crew when we heard. A camera crew was scrambled to shoot the action at the 'Crisis Meeting' as details gradually began to filter through.
Of course it had all started so well. Big crowds had gathered for the departures. Big emotions dockside and big winds for the round the buoys racing before the yachts headed out to sea.
Some of the pictures were simply breathtaking. The Team New Zealand sailors had Camper humming round the course, building a big lead very quickly.
Behind them Kenny Read at the helm of Puma was giving his bowman a fire-hose drenching around the marks that took the breath away.
In the commentary box working with Peter Lester we called the race for TV stations around the world for an hour and a half before shifting to internet coverage until the boats were out of range.
We already knew the fleet was in for a kicking without realising how soon and severe it would be.
After voicing the highlights package for the host broadcaster and sending my story for ONE News , I walked out of the TV compound into a howling gale which just never let up.
Back at the hotel the wind was smacking the trees against the building and, for the first time in what will be a long nine months, race followers woke in the night to think of the boys out on the ocean; 'Poor bastards' the common sentiment.
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