Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 final In Port Race gets underway tomorrow, Saturday 7th July 2012. Even though their victory in this eleventh edition of the Volvo Ocean Race is guaranteed, Franck Cammas and his men won't be mere onlookers on Saturday! There is one more challenge left to take up: to top the standing for these ten short format races and amass the greatest number of victories out of the total of nineteen races run… Given the moderate breeze forecast, the various qualities of the six crews are sure to be called upon.
Prize giving Leg 9 - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
The crew of Groupama 4 could tell themselves that it's no longer necessary to score any more points, since the final result has already been established. Indeed the same is true for all the other teams, as the points racked up in this final In-Port race won't do anything to affect the current hierarchy. However, somewhat paradoxically, this race promises to be extremely hotly contested because no team wants to round off this race on a sour note! Some of this is coloured by pride, but essentially it is about the imprint each crew will leave on the Volvo Ocean Race…
The ten In-port races only count for 18% of the total points awarded throughout the round the world race, but the combination of the two race formats has contributed a great deal towards determining the final hierarchy and also getting a picture of how much each team has progressed prior to the major oceanic legs. In this way, Telefonica has cracked on three separate occasions: in Itajai, where the navigator mistook the correct mark whilst they were leading the race, in Miami where the Spanish boat hit a mark and in Lisbon where the helmsman committed an error at the start. That's over ten points that went astray and could well have made a difference in Galway…
As for the French, the first stage of these one-hour races wasn't the most flamboyant display of supremacy to say the least (5th in Alicante and in Cape Town), but very quickly a series of podiums finishes ensued in this short format racing, with the exception of the Chinese gaff (5th in Sanya). Groupama 4 will take the start line on Saturday at 1200 UTC in the knowledge that she has had two victories in a row, in Lisbon and Lorient. As regards the points awarded for the In-Port races alone, Franck Cammas and his men are third (38 points), just a point shy of joint leaders Camper and Puma (39 points)!
As a result there is a fine challenge on the table. It is always a tough challenge since the VO-70s aren't at all adapted for this type of race, where the start is crucial, and most importantly all the manœuvres need to be performed without a hitch! This is easier said than done when you have to dump more than 500m2 of spinnaker at the leeward mark… Analysis of the nine previous In-Ports is telling: Abu Dhabi and Groupama 4 are the only ones to amass three victories, Telefonica two and Camper one.
In what promises to be a light to moderate northerly breeze (between 6 and 14 knots unless the sun decides to come out and create a thermal breeze), conditions will be ideal for bringing tactical expertise to the fore on a windward-leeward with two short reaching legs. It's not just the final standing which will be appreciated, but also the quality and panache of each member of the crew… Franck Cammas and his men are longing to finish on a harmonious note!
Overall standing after nine offshore legs and nine In-Port races
1-Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas) : 2+20+2+18+5+24+2+30+4+20+6+20+5+25+6+30+6+25 = 250 points
2-Camper (Chris Nicholson) : 4+25+5+24+4+18+3+15+6+15+5+25+3+10+4+25+5+30 = 226 points
3-Puma (Ken Read) : 5+0+4+19+3+17+5+25+5+30+4+30+4+20+5+20+4+20 = 220 points
4-Telefonica (Iker Martinez) : 1+30+6+29+2+27+6+20+1+25+2+15+1+15+1+10+3+15 = 209 points
5-Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker) : 6+0+3+10+6+14+4+10+2+0+3+10+6+30+3+15+2+5 = 129 points
6-Sanya (Mike Sanderson) : 3+0+1+5+2+5+1+5+3+0+0+0+2+5+2+5+1+10 = 50 points
Groupama Sailing Team website