Volvo, Global Ocean Race and Europe's progress to the London Olympics

Welcome to this edition of Sail-World.com's Europe's newsletter.

In 2009, Ericsson 3 stunned the sailing world with their juggernaut victory in the Southern Ocean leg of the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR), despite a late start due to significant hull delamination. Flash forward three years, and a glance at the VOR’s leaderboard yesterday had revealed a razor-thin separation between Puma Ocean Racing’s Mar Mostro and Groupama. Mar Mostro held a 0.9-mile lead over Groupama).

But suddenly the world changed with Groupama's dismasting.

Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France, suspend racing from leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil, after the mast broke just above the first spreader around 60 nautical miles south of Punta del Este. (Credit: Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)


Telefonica is currently holding second place, some 70-plus miles astern of the leader. Impressive, given that the team had to stop at Caleta Martial, a cove on Chile’s Herschel Island, to make repairs—a mission that cost them 19 hours of racing—but mostly a function of a high-pressure system that stalled Groupama and Mar Mostro, while Telefonica continued to enjoy good breeze.

Now, a few days later, Iker Martinez and his Telefonica crew have all but sewn up a second position (provided, of course, that Telefonica’s repairs hold together for the next 843 miles). The question now, however, is a matter of gold or silver.

While it would be a jaw-dropper to see Telefonica pull an Ericsson 3 and snag this victory, the chances are fairly slim .

Meanwhile, in Puerto Montt, Chile, Emirates Team New Zealand’s shore team is hard at work, scrambling to repair their delaminated Camper. Repairs are expected to take roughly 72 hours, from the time the clock started. Depending on when the Kiwis decamp, they could well see their friends from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, who have also diverted to this Chilean port to make repairs after reporting 'new, funky noises' from their repaired panel aboard the Azzam. Get the full VOR report, inside.

Meanwhile, in actual One Design news, the 43 TROFEO S.A.R. PRINCESA SOFÍA MAPFRE is taking place in Mallorca, where sailors from 50-plus countries are enjoying stellar, Olympic-class racing on the beautiful Bay of Palma.

And in America’s Cup circles, the news has broken that one of the French national teams, Aleph–Equipe de France, has withdrawn from both the America’s Cup World Series and the 34th America’s Cup, citing tough economic times and the reality of building and racing wingsail-powered catamarans. 'We fought hard, with all our drive and enthusiasm, to find a budget allowing us to participate in the final phase of the 34th America’s Cup,' said Philippe Ligot, Aleph’s CEO. 'We did not want to compete with resources that would not allow us to credibly challenge the best teams. France has, without a doubt, all the sporting, technical and managerial talent to win the Cup but the current economic environment makes funding a commercial team extremely difficult.'

Also inside, get the latest from the Global Ocean Race and the Clipper Around the World Race, where two injured crewmembers were rescued from the Geraldton Western Australia by a US Coast Guard ship after a huge wave swept the raceboat several days ago.

And finally, be sure to check out Guido Trombetta’s great image gallery of the final day of racing at the RC44 Cascais Cup.

May the four winds blow you safely home,
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