Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 is due to start on 29 October 2011 in Alicante, Spain and will finish in Galway, Ireland in July 2012. Team Telefonica are the first team to arrive into Alicante ahead of the race start.
'This is a big moment for us,' said Telefónica’s Spanish skipper Iker Martínez. 'Our training time is finished and we now need to just do the final preparations for the race.'
A warm Spanish welcome was on offer for the crew, led by Martínez and also featuring Xabi Fernández. The pair, who have sailed together since 1999, are Spain’s most successful sailing duo, winning gold and silver Olympic medals together.
Volvo Ocean Race Chief Executive Knut Frostad hailed the arrival of Telefónica to the Mediterranean port, which also acts as the race HQ. 'It’s a very significant moment for the race,' Frostad said. 'In the build-up it’s easy to forget that this is a boat race but once the teams start arriving it really drives it home. Until now the teams have been doing their own things but once they get to Alicante they really are in the Volvo Ocean Race.
'I’m impressed that Telefónica are the first team to arrive – it shows that they are very well prepared and they are clearly going to be very competitive. The other teams will now start to arrive and we are very much looking forward to welcoming them to Alicante.'
Team Telefónica have a total of seven Spaniards on board their latest generation Volvo Open 70, Telefónica, which was built in the King Marine shipyard in Valencia and launched in Alicante in May.
The arrival marks a new phase in preparations for the team, who have clocked up more than 9,000 nautical miles of training in the past four months. 'We’re feeling great but we know that the other teams will be good too and unless we’re at 100 percent it will be impossible to beat them,' said Martínez. 'In order to be fighting at the end of the race you have to be in great shape at the beginning and I feel we are.'
Not far behind Team Telefónica are Team Sanya, due to arrive in Alicante in the next few days following a 2,000 nautical mile qualifying passage from the UK. Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand are at their base in Palma de Mallorca and are due to arrive in Alicante next week.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Groupama sailing team and Puma Ocean Racing powered by BERG Propulsion will all join their race rivals in Alicante before the cut-off date of 3 October.
The Race Village in Alicante opens to the public on 14 October with the Alicante In-Port Race kicking off on 29 October.
The first of the nine ocean legs, from Alicante through the Atlantic to Cape Town in South Africa, starts on 5 November. Team Telefónica crew list:
Iker Martínez (Spain), skipper
Andrew Cape (Australia), navigator
Neal McDonald (Britain), watch captain
Joao Signorini 'Joca' (Brazil), watch captain
Jordi Calafat (Spain), helmsman & sail coordinator
Xabi Fernández (Spain), trimmer
Pepe Ribes (Spain), boat captain
Pablo Arrarte (Spain), helmsman
Ñeti Cuervas-Mons (Spain), bowman
Zane Gills (Australia), bowman
Diego Fructuoso (Spain), media crew member Volvo Ocean Race website