News Home Video Gallery Photo Gallery : In Review - Week One of the Volvo Ocean Race

In Review - Week One of the Volvo Ocean Race

'Telefonica Black heads into the Gibraltar strait during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race.'    © David Kneale/Volvo Ocean Race    Click Here to view large photo

When Leg One of the Volvo Ocean Race started in Alicante on October 11, only the most optimistic race fans would have predicted such a tight battle one week into the event. But a look at the leaderboard today shows a compact fleet, where all eight teams can find reason for optimism.

No lead appears secure and the boats and crews seem to be closely matched. Even Ger O’Rourke’s Delta Lloyd squad – a last-minute entry, with a first generation boat – is in the thick of the action. How did we get here?

The start in Alicante followed an incredible two week build up where nearly one million visitors passed through the turnstiles of the Race Village. Over 600 journalists accredited to the media centre and the daily audience on the website is averaging over 120,000 visitors. Additionally, over 30,000 people have registered for and are playing the Virtual Volvo Ocean Race Game.

But the real action, of course, is on the water, where the crews were greeted with ‘grown-up’ conditions for the leg start. Winds hovering in the 25-knot range, three-metre waves, and a tight windward leeward leg before they were set free to make their way to Gibraltar and out into the Atlantic.

It was Torben Grael’s Ericsson 4 who led the fleet out of the Bay of Alicante, riding some immaculate crew work to build a slender lead as Alicante faded into the distance. Over the next 24 hours, Grael’s stablemates on Ericsson 3 would creep up beside them and the two Scandinavian boats would lead the fleet through Gibraltar.

Behind, the heavy conditions were exacting a toll on Bouwe Bekking’s Telefonica Blue. A broken tiller arm on the steering system resulted in several spectacular wipe-outs.

The team reduced sail and made a repair, but eventually decided it would be prudent to stop near Gibraltar, take the 12-hour penalty, and ensure a proper fix.

The team returned to racetrack despondent, but fortunate that calm winds in the Atlantic had slowed the leaders and limited the damage on the leaderboard, as navigator Simon Fisher explained when the boat resumed racing: 'All of last night [during their pit stop] I was constantly thinking about the weather, whether or not stopping was the smart thing to do or not and about how much we were going to lose, were my calculation going to be right or not? When I finally woke up, after six very good hours of sleep, I was pleased to see that on the position report things could have been a whole lot worse…'

Telefonica Blue -!©_David_Kneale-Volvo_Ocean_Race   Click Here to view large photo

In the early stages of the battle of the Atlantic, Ericsson 4 were able to hold their nerve and their lead. But it wasn’t easy, as the attacks came thick and fast. Off the coast of Africa, the breeze was stronger and that’s where you could find Delta Lloyd and Telefonica Blue, cutting the corner on those who went ahead.

Approaching the Canary Islands, Ian Walker’s Green Dragon, in fourth place, became the first team to use their StealthPlay card, a new innovation for this race where once a leg, each team has an option to ‘go stealth’ and be removed from the position reports for 12 hours.

At the time of making this call, the Dragon was positioned to the west of most of the fleet, and the question was whether they would weave between the Canaries, or sail to the west of them.

On Day 6, Ken Read’s PUMA finally pounced and left the Canaries behind with a handy lead over Ericsson 4. Green Dragon came out of StealthPlay in the same position they entered, fourth place, but having lost miles to the leader. Skipper Walker went on to say that at least part of the reason for invoking the play was to let the rest of the fleet know how poorly they were doing.

On Friday, Day 7 of the race, focus shifted to the approach to the Doldrums, an enemy of sailors since men first took to the sea. This shifting zone is usually found between about 4-degrees and 10-degrees of North latitude from the equator and is characterised by calm winds, hot, humid conditions, and frequent squalls and thunderstorms. The faster a team can pass through it and move into the tradewinds south of the equator, the better. Often, the first team out of the Doldrums is well positioned to win the leg.

But there was one more bit of drama to go on Friday, as Ericsson 4 was advised by the Race Medical Team to evacuate Tony Mutter and his infected knee off the boat. With Cape Verde Islands serving as a convenient drop-off point, this seemed a sensible precaution. After the Islands, the next opportunity was some 1600 nautical miles away at Fernando de Noronha.

As the clock rolled over on the first week, the leaders were seeing their hard-earned gains evaporate in the tropical sun of the Doldrums. The backmarkers were making gains of over 100 miles over a 24-hour period as PUMA retained their tenuous grasp on top of the leaderboard. A new threat was emerging from Green Dragon, who had built up some leverage to the west.

Photo credit: Rick Deppe/PUMA Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race. PUMA Ocean racing sail towards Gibraltar on leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race -!©_Volvo_Ocean_Race   Click Here to view large photo

After a full week of racing, the action couldn’t be closer. The fleet is now one-third of the way to Cape Town and it’s all to play for on final approach to the Doldrums as Team Russia skipper Andreas Hanakamp explains. 'It seems the leaders are running into lighter air. It’s a complex system ahead so I don’t think we can really sail around them, but it could be a bit of a re-start.'

Make sure you follow week two with the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha the next objective. Teams earn scoring points equivalent to half the leg points at the scoring gate, so it’s a big deal on the overall scoring. The leader is expected to get there on Wednesday or Thursday this week.

Green Dragon heads into the Gibraltar strait during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race. -!©_David_Kneale-Volvo_Ocean_Race   Click Here to view large photo

Photo credit: Guy Salter/Ericsson 4/Volvo Ocean Race. Horacio Carabelli and Phil James dropping the Code Zero onboard Ericsson 4 -!©_Volvo_Ocean_Race   Click Here to view large photo

by Volvo Ocean Race media


Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

6:08 PM Sun 19 Oct 2008 GMT

Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on

Related News Stories:

20 Oct 2011  Puma's Volvo 70 - 'il mostro' - for sale!
17 Aug 2010  Volvo Ocean Race Legends: Caviar, Cocktails and Central Heating
23 Jul 2010  Volvo Ocean Race: Camper announce build, crew and workup for VOR70
05 Jul 2010  Volvo Ocean Race announce Legends Regatta covering all editions
07 May 2010  Stu Bannatyne joins CAMPER/Emirates Team NZ for Volvo Ocean Race
04 May 2010  Second's out for PUMA's Ken Read in Volvo Ocean Race + Video (x2)
30 Apr 2010  Puma announces core team for Volvo Ocean Race
26 Apr 2010  Sports Consultancy secures 10 Host Ports for Volvo Ocean Race 2011–12
22 Apr 2010  Nicholson and Minoprio named for Camper/ETNZ Volvo crew + Audio
20 Apr 2010  Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 – Schedule announced

News - USA and the World

America's Cup Book Review: Winging It - Oracle Team USA's comeback *Feature by Richard Gladwell,

Rolex China Sea Race 2014 - nip and tuck for IRC honours by RHKYC and Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia, Hong Kong

HUD Vision: An interview with Afterguard Marine’s Alex Moret *Feature
ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres - US Sailing Team ready for action
Volvo Ocean Race - Dongfeng Race Team first official qualifier
Springtime boat buyers need to take care of a few key things
ISAF Match Race Rankings for 16 April 2014
ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres – World’s best to race on French Riviera
Rolex China Sea Race – Fleet off to a clean start
America's Cup: Expected de Ridder penalty should be reduced *Feature
World Youth Sailing Week – Second edition officially presented + Video
Rolex China Sea Race - Sailing classic returns
Les Voiles de St Barth – Fired up for battle
CNN Mainsail Down Under for the 75th JJ Giltinan Trophy - 18ft skiffs
Volvo Ocean Race: North Sails on outfitting the Volvo 65
Image gallery: James Cook High's Royal encounter on Steinlager 2 *Feature
Volvo Ocean Race - Maersk Line named shipping partner
Congressional Cup - Victory for Taylor Canfield and crew
SSV Oliver Hazard Perry joins America's Tall Ship fleet + Video
2014 Halifax – Saint-Pierre Ocean Race
Oyster Regatta Antigua - Glorious conditions prevail on final day
WWA Pro Card Qualifier - Pro Cards earned at Freedom Wake Park
Christmas Caribbean Rally - Top class sailors to compete   
Earth Day boater tips   
Anna Tunnicliffe - from CrossFit to Extreme 40's   
Charleston Race Week - Photos by Chris Howell   
Image Gallery: Stratis SL33 flies on the Waitemata   
Audi Melges 20- Sperry Topsider Charleston Race Week - Light final day   
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - PSP Logistics prepares for USA   
ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères - Crème of the crop to compete   
Congressional Cup: Luna Rossa makes podium in first event   
Int 14 World Championships 2015 launch new event website   
International Optimist Regatta Clinic and Team Race - Register now!   
Congressional Cup: World top rankers finish that way in Long Beach   
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week Day 3 finale   
America's Cup: Gino Morrelli outlines the new AC62 design   
Doyle Sails New Zealand signs Andrew Brown as One Design Manager   
America's Cup: Dean Barker's Blog - A sail with the Duke and Duchess *Feature   
29er World Youth Sailing Week Easter regatta - Day 1 and 2 overall   
C Thomas Clagett Jr Memorial Clinic/Regatta - Entries start to roll in   
50th Congressional Cup: See the delayed coverage and media conferences   
Clipper Race 10 Day 27: Closing stages - Qingdao to San Francisco   

For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News  

Switch Default Region to:

Social Media





New Zealand

United Kingdom

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World






Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text


Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery


Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery





Privacy Policy



Cookie Policy



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.