In the Volvo Ocean Race, Team Telefonica have achieved two victories in two offshore legs and have dominated the race so far but, according to watch captain Neal McDonald, there is no chance of complacency creeping into their approach.
Neal McDonald onboard Team Telefonica during leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Cape Town, South Africa to Abu Dhabi, UAE.
'We have had it all our own way but I have to say fortune and good luck have had a part to play in our success,' McDonald said after the crew closed out an overall Leg 2 victory with a narrow second place in the closing stage into Abu Dhabi. 'We know that we will have bad times in this race and will have to face them as the others have had to do. There is still a huge amount of racing to do yet before we get to Galway.'
Telefónica finished first in Leg 1, the first stage of Leg 2 and won the V&A Waterfront In-Port Race in Cape Town in between. They now hold an eight point margin at the top of the leaderboard. McDonald believes the close knit nature of the crew has a lot to do with the team’s success.
'We were tight before the race started and amazingly I think we are now even more so’' he said. 'Much of that comes from the fact that most of the crew raced around the world together in the last race.
'The guys have been un-phased by anything since we started and that really helps when the racing is as close as this.'
McDonald does not put the Team Telefónica success story down to any speed advantage but also says their Juan Kouyoumdjian designed blue boat is no slouch across the range.
'We haven’t lined up against all the boats in all conditions yet so it is hard to judge relative speeds. For example Groupama were by far the fastest boat in the sprint into Abu Dhabi.'
'We are pretty happy with our all-round speed though, and that has served us well up to now.' Overall McDonald says the crew are happy with their performance so far but still are constantly striving to improve.
'We are just going to keep on doing what we always do,' he said. 'No resting on laurels, we’ll just keep it as business as usual.'
Volvo Ocean Race website