Please select your home edition
Edition
Naiad/Oracle Supplier

Volvo Ocean Race- Tightly grouped fleet in a drag race to the Azores

by Sail-World and Volvo Ocean Race on 12 Jun 2012
Skipper Chris Nicholson takes a compass bearing of the other boats, onboard Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand during leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Lisbon, Portugal to Lorient, France. Hamish Hooper/Camper ETNZ/Volvo Ocean Race©

Telefónica's bid for redemption and the return of their overall lead was well underway on Monday with the Spanish team leading the Leg 8 race to Lorient, France, though the sight of current race frontrunners Groupama on their shoulder are a sobering thought.

At 1300 UTC Iker Martínez and his crew, who won the first three offshore legs but have since slipped, held a narrow 1.1 nautical mile lead over Groupama following the first 24 hours' racing towards the turning mark of São Miguel island in the Azores. Having rounded the island, the fleet will sail directly to Lorient on a course that is more of a passage race than a trans-oceanic leg of a round the world race.

The fleet is sailing at near wind speed, with boatspeeds of around 20kts being recorded, making for a fast trip.

They are expected to slow as the hit the Azores High - currently parked over the islands. They will take 24 hours to traverse the zone, sailing in winds expected to be less than 10kts.

The first boat is expected to round the Azores on Wednesday June 13, 2012 in the early afternoon, UTC based on current wind data. They should finish late on Friday night June 15, 2012.

One of the two weather feeds used by Predictwind, to forecast optimum course and windstrength shows the fleet getting a belting from strong winds from a major depression over the final 36 hours, with average wind strength being over 30kts, which generally means gusting 40kts plus. The other feed shows more moderate winds.

On current standings, Puma Ocean Racing were in third place followed by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand, while Team Sanya rounded out the fleet on a more southerly course more than 26 nm behind.

Groupama lead Telefónica by eight points with two offshore legs and two in-port races to go in what is turning out to be the closest ever Volvo Ocean Race. Puma are in third, 13 points off the lead, with Camper a further 10 points back. With 30 points going to the winner of each of the remaining offshore legs, there is still plenty of scope for lead changes.

The only real opportunity for the places to swap on a tactical basis would seem to be in a spot of light airs through which the boats will have to pass, just short os Sao Miguel, in the Azores.

Telefónica trimmer and Olympic gold medallist Xabi Fernández said the team were revelling in their return to a position at the front of the pack after a difficult run, but were under no illusion about the battle to come to remain there.

'We are still second overall and everything is still in our hands,' said Fernández. 'The only thing we can think about is to keep pushing, try to do a very nice leg and get back in the lead as soon as possible.'

He said the team had more to worry about than just Groupama, with third overall Puma currently in third place and within sight on the race course.

Adding to the pressure is the knowledge that the fleet will compress as it nears São Miguel, which is situated in a notoriously windless area in the middle of the Azores High.

'You are always nervous when you go into a zone with no wind,' Fernández said. 'We will have a very hard 24 hours maybe tomorrow or the next day. It's clear that the first one going out of the light air is going to be the winner, or have a lot of chances, so we have to fight hard in the light air conditions.'

Groupama are not only looking to defend their hard fought overall lead, they are also vying for an opportunity to race into their homeport of Lorient in first place.

Groupama Media Crew Member Yann Riou today reported that his team were focused on capitalising on the fast reaching conditions for which his team are famous for being quickest of the fleet.

'Of course it's a bit of a special leg on different levels,' Riou said. 'Its format is a bit different in terms of length, there is a lot at stake and we don't forget that this is bringing us home.'


The game will change on Tuesday once the teams round São Miguel and switch from reaching to running conditions in a powerful low-pressure system that promises gale force winds in excess of 40 knots.

Abu Dhabi navigator Jules Salter said turning the corner could be likened to a second start and the race would again become wide open.

'It is going to be pretty exciting to see how we play that low and close we go to the centre of it,' he said. 'That will probably decide who wins this leg.'

The latest ETA for the fleet's arrival in Lorient, France is on Friday.

In a later interview with Volvo Ocean Race Media, Camper skipper Chris Nicholson said he would 'sooner smack his thumb with a hammer' than continue leeching miles to his competitors, but with the fleet soon to head into fast running conditions he is preparing to mount a comeback.

Nicholson said the team have been working hard on the reach to the turning mark at São Miguel island, as they try to hang on to the top three teams who all have Juan Kouyoumdjian designed boats that revel in the conditions.

Nicholson said if his team could remain within 20 miles of the leaders once the fleet reach the islands then they would be in with a shot of reeling the frontrunners in on what is expected to be some fast and furious running.

'I reckon if we can get to the Azores, to the parking-lot as such, within 20 miles of them, that’d be OK,' he said. 'Several days ago I thought it could be worse.'

For now, Nicholson and navigator Will Oxley are focusing on how they can capitalise on the opportunities that are to be had at São Miguel, which is enveloped inside the centre of the Azores High, where there is little to no wind.

'There’s big gains and losses to be made getting around the island,’’ Nicholson said. 'Then it’s a pretty fast trip if you keep it all in one piece.'

The fast trip Nicholson is referring to is the second stage of the race, from São Miguel to Lorient, France, which will be powered by a massive low-pressure system that is packing gale force wind.

Nicholson said 'it would be like open season for any of the boats' once they’re on the home run, only it was a question of just how hard each of the teams were prepared to push.



Nicholson is hopeful his team will be contenders in the conditions, which he reckons they’re pretty strong in.

'We think we’re pretty good in those conditions, but to take these boats into 30 or 40 knots down wind anything can happen there,’’ he said.

'You like to say everything will be normal, and we’re just going to plod along. But it won’t be it will be the full gloves off.'

Team Telefónica and Groupama sailing team continue to fight for the top spot, with the Spanish team narrowly holding an edge.

Puma aren't far behind, and hoping to make gains on the second stage of the race to help bolster their overall score. Abu Dhabi, on a more northern course than Camper, are narrowly in fourth. Team Sanya remain on a more southern course in sixth.

Southern Spars - 100Kilwell - 4Schaefer 2016 Ratchet 300x250

Related Articles

Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 2
Yachting NZ's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is unprecedented Yachting New Zealand's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is without precedent. Subject to Appeal, the Kiwis have signaled that they will reject 30% of the positions gained in the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Santander in 2014.
Posted on 22 May
Gladwell's Line - World Sailing changes tack after IOC windshift
Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick. Every blow well earned over issues such as the pollution at Rio, the Israeli exclusion abomination plus a few more. But now World Sailing is getting it right.
Posted on 21 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 1
Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving its goals Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving goals set in the Olympic Commission report of 2010. Around 64 countries are expected to be represented in Rio de Janeiro in August. That is a slight increase on Qingdao and Weymouth, but more importantly a full regional qualification system is now in place
Posted on 19 May
Taming the beast-a conversation with Stuart Meurer of Parker Hannifin
While AC72 cats were fast, they difficult to control, so Oracle partnered with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way. If you watched videos of the AC72s racing in the 34th America’s Cup (2013), you’re familiar with the mind-boggling speeds that are possible when wingsail-powered catamarans switch from displacement sailing to foiling mode. While foiling is fast, there’s no disguising the platform’s inherent instability. Now, Oracle Team USA has teamed up with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way.
Posted on 18 May
From foiling Moths to Olympic starting lines-a Q&A with Bora Gulari
Bora Gulari’s is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class, along with teammate Louisa Chafee. Bora Gulari (USA) has made a strong name for himself within high-performance sailing circles, with wins at the 2009 and 2013 Moth Worlds. In between, he broke the 30-knort barrier and was the 2009 US SAILING Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. His latest challenge is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class as skipper, along with his teammate Louisa Chafee.
Posted on 12 May
Concern for Zika at Rio Olympics is now deadly serious
Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, or the Rio Olympics. Many others have, and they were apt, but things have changed. So here now we have a situation where one man, Associate Professor Amir Attaran, who does have a more than decent string of letters after his name, is bringing nearly as many facts to bear as references at the article's end
Posted on 12 May
Zhik - The brand born of a notion, not its history
here is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline is officially marketed as Made For Water There is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline has been officially marketed as Made For Water, and this is precisely what the company has done for the last eight years before the succinct and apt strapline came from out of R&D and into mainstream visibility.
Posted on 8 May
Shape of next Volvo Ocean Race revealed at Southern Spars - Part 1
Southern Spars has been confirmed as the supplier of spars for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. In mid-April, Race Director, Jack Lloyd and Stopover Manager Richard Mason outlined the changes expected for the 40,000nm Race during a tour of Southern Spars 10,000sq metre specialist spar construction facility. A total of up to seven boats is expected to enter, but time is running out for the construction of any new boats.
Posted on 3 May
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