The final act of the Volvo Ocean race, and indeed the final race for the Volvo 70 class, was run out in the Discover Ireland In-Port Race sailed off Galway, Ireland.
The race determined the final placings in the InPort Trophy, with Puma and Camper tied at the top of the table, with Groupama, the overall race winner, sitting one point behind the two leaders.
Sailing in a moderate breeze and flat water, and infront of a gallery of 30,000 spectators, Camper led off the start line with gennakers set for the first leg of the 8nm course. The fleet split into two groups, with Puma in the group that sailed off to port, along with Groupama.
Camper and Telefonica stayed on starboard, while they initially held pressure, a big windshift as they gybed into the first cross, resulted in a big gain for the Puma and Groupama led group, which they carried into the first mark. Abu Dhabi was penalized for an infringement around the bottom mark with Team Sanya.
Camper pulled through to third at the mark behind Puma, and they both went to the left hand side of the course for the first beat. Puma led around the top mark by a narrow margin, with Camper picking out Groupama, after Camper managed to do one less tack to the mark, and were able to dip at the top of the course and slide through to leeward and around the mark
At Mark 3, Puma led by 23 seconds from Camper and Groupama and stretched by a further three seconds at Mark 4.
Groupama pulled through inside Camper and tactically were able to control the mark rounding at Mark 5, taking second behind Puma, rounding 36 seconds behind Puma, with camper 58 seconds back.
At Mark 6 Camper had pulled into Groupama, but were forced to tack on the mark, and it was a case of déjà vu as this time it was Groupama’s turn to roll through to leeward and round the mark in second place – one second ahead of Camper. That margin was stretched at Mark 7 to 8secs over Camper with Groupama 39 secs astern of Puma.
Camper dropped more time on Groupama on the reach to Mark 8 rounding 21 seconds astern.
The second and third placed boats engaged again at the bottom mark, Mark 9, with Groupama coming in on a poorly judged layline, requiring a drop and gybe, which was complicated by a jam in the spinnker drop and a wrapped jib. Although Groupama held the inside position and right of way, Camper came in on the port gybe, with a conventional drop and sailed through to leeward of the low-speed gybing Groupama and out the others side chasing Puma.
The margin was too great for the Emirates Team NZ crew aboard Camper, and Ken Read sailed Puma to her first ever InPort race win, by a margin of 79secs, and took the InPort race trophy from Camper.
There was a surprise right on the line as Telefonica came in with a big shift, lifting into third place, with Groupama fourth, Abu Dhabi in fifth and Team Sanya sixth.
After the race Ken read explained that their tactics on the opening leg was to go down the leg doing one less gybe and than those who started on starboard. That was the winning of the race for the US-flagged entry.
Second over the line cemented the second place in the overall race for the Chris Nicholson skippered Camper, and placed them second in the InPort Trophy, and they also take the Speed Record prize for the longest 24 hour distance sailed.
by Richard Gladwell
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11:58 AM Sat 7 Jul 2012GMT
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2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race
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