Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad/Oracle Supplier

Volvo Ocean Race - Short but threatening Leg 9

by Volvo Ocean Race on 28 Jun 2012
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK, in rough weather, on the approach to the finish of leg 8, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race© http://www.volvooceanrace.com
In the Volvo Ocean Race, at just 550 miles long it may be the shortest of all the offshore tests, but Leg 9 still has the potential to present race-threatening conditions for the teams.

The sprint from Lorient in northwest France to Galway on the west coast of Ireland will only take a couple of days to complete but as this race has seen so many times during its 39,000-mile odyssey, fortunes can easily be reversed in a matter of hours.


The Celtic Sea, the stretch of water that lies between the Volvo Ocean Race fleet and the overall finish line, is notorious for strong winds and big seas, churned up by the Celtic continental shelf.

On leaving Lorient, the fleet must first sail south, leaving Ile de Groix and Belle Ile, small islands in the Bay of Biscay, to starboard before charging north west towards the next waypoint -- Fastnet Rock.

The iconic landmark, renowned among sailors, is the most southerly point of Ireland, and must be left to port.

The biennial Fastnet Race, from the Isle of Wight in the UK, round Fastnet Rock and back to Plymouth, has on many occasions seen boats hit by ferocious weather in the Celtic Sea.

In 1979 a severe storm swept through the fleet resulting in the deaths of 15 sailors, while in 1985 Duran Duran singer Simon Le Bon was one of five who spent 20 minutes trapped under the hull of his capsized yacht Drum, shortly before he competed with the yacht in the Whitbread Round the World Race.

Most recently in the 2011 race, won by Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, the 100ft superyacht Rambler, one of the fastest raceboats in the world, capsized off Fastnet Rock.

Just to throw an extra challenge into the race, the fleet will have to dodge shipping traffic three miles south east of Fastnet Rock.

Once round the rock, the fleet will likely face strong westerly breeze and huge seas as they pass Blasket Island on the south-west tip of Ireland.

From there it’s a straight run up to the Aran Islands, a set of three islands marking the entrance to Galway bay that boast 200-metre tall cliffs, making the most of the strong currents that accelerate round the many headlands.

Eiragh lighthouse, at the western end of the Aran Islands, must be left to starboard before the fleet turn east and head for the finish line in Galway Bay.

As the scoreboard stands now, Groupama have 219 points and a 23-point lead at the head of the standings over Puma on 196, with Camper just five points further behind in third.

A nightmare for Telefónica on Leg 8, in which they finished fifth after suffering serious breakages, sees them tied on equal points with Camper.

Abu Dhabi have 122 points while Team Sanya have 39.

Leg 9 starts at 1102 GMT, and the Volvo Ocean Race team will be bringing fans round-the-clock coverage. The teams will take part in the Bretagne In-Port Race on Saturday, 24 hours before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race website

Related Articles

Sailing in the Olympics beyond 2016 - A double Olympic medalist's view
Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. Gold and Bronze medalist and multiple world boardsailing/windsurfer champion, Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. A key driver is the signalled intention by the International Olympic Committee to select a basket of events that will be contested.
Posted on 29 Apr
From Olympic flag to Olympic Gold and maybe another
The Sydney Olympics was a Sailing double 470 Gold event for Australia. Having won the 420 World Championship in 2000, the feeder class to the 470, while still at school in Australia young Matt Belcher was given the honour of carrying the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Posted on 28 Apr
The Road to Rio now 99 days short
The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win. The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win in Hyeres, at some World championship events and Weymouth World Cup but for many crews: 'It's 106 miles to Chicago we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.' Whoops wrong movie.
Posted on 28 Apr
America's Cup - Oracle Racing win in Court but with collateral damage
Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Mitchell focussed largely on the circumstances of the matter and introduced into the public arena some interesting documents to support his claims.
Posted on 23 Apr
An interview with Jake Beattie about the 2016 Race to Alaska
In 2014, Jake Beattie and a few friends envisioned the Race to Alaska. Now, it’s time this wild race’s second edition. In 2014, Jake Beattie-the executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Washington, and a few friends hatched the bold idea of a human-powered race to Ketchikan, Alaska, took flight. They decided that their human-powered race would start in Port Townsend, Washington and run to Ketchikan, by way of the inside passage between Vancouver Island and British Columbia.
Posted on 14 Apr
Children of the Internet, Rio and Hong Kong
I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. The kind of conversations I have with her run along these lines.... In the olden days we did not have television until I left school and they had a thing called print magazines, that reported events between two weeks and four months after they happened. And her sceptical response... Hoh! Daddy, Hoh!
Posted on 14 Apr
Go fast girls - 49er FX sailors Paris Henken and Helena Scutt
Paris Henken and Helena Scutt will be representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics, which will be their first Olympiad. American’s Paris Henken (20) and Helena Scutt (23) recently won a berth to represent the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the high-performance 49er FX skiff, a goal that the team has been working on for almost three years. While this is their first Games, writing them off as Olympic newbies would require ignoring their recent results and their strong teamwork.
Posted on 13 Apr
World Sailing Cup V3 - A Dead Rat in a Shoe or Spring Daffodils?
While a host of major sailing events go from strength to strength, the Sailing World Cup has very major issues. Last night my Irish better half was sitting beside me on the sofa watching an Australian version of the popular TV Cooking Program My Kitchen Rules on a tablet with her headphones while I was watching Diehard II for the seventeenth time (it’s a boy thing) on TV. She suddenly spluttered and laughed, took off her headphones and motioned for me to mute Diehard. (Seriously!!)
Posted on 9 Apr
Volvo Ocean Race appoints stadium racing pioneer as new CEO
Sail-World forecast the appointment of Mark Turner as Volvo Ocean Race CEO a month ago. We profiled Turner at that time. Sail-World forecast the appointment of Mark Turner as Volvo Ocean Race CEO a month ago. We profiled Turner at that time. Today his appointment has been confirmed.
Posted on 31 Mar
Large spectator fleet heading north for boat watching season
I’m absolutely not going to lay claim to the phrase, but it is insanely apt and hilarious all at the same time, however. I’m absolutely not going to lay claim to the phrase. It is insanely apt and hilarious, all at the same time, however. Well then, boat watching season is definitely upon us once more. The whales will soon be gathering again off the coast of Queensland to observe all manner of racing and cruising craft as they head North for a Winter in the sun.
Posted on 29 Mar
Kilwell - 4NaiadBarz Optics - Floaters