VOR: Leg six begins—Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond
This week's Grand Prix sailing headlines are being dominated by the start of Leg Six of the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR), which will take the fleet from Itajai, Brazil to Miami, Florida, a course of some 4,800-nautical miles that includes punching across the equator and into the North Atlantic. For the five-strong fleet of Volvo Open 70s, this leg will be as much a test of the shore crews as the sailors themselves, as all boats—shy of Puma Ocean Racing's Mar Mostro— reported significant damage en route from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, forcing teams to abandon or temporarily retire from racing. Interestingly, while Mar Mostro was the only boat not to stop mid Leg Five, they only crossed the finishing line a mere 13 minutes ahead of overall race leader Telefonica, thanks to a private low-pressure system that the Spanish-flagged team rode virtually all the way to Itajai. It will certainly be interesting to see how each team's repair job withstands the next 4,800 miles, which are forecasted to be much smoother sailing than the rough go that all teams experienced racing from New Zealand to Brazil.
|Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France celebrate winning the DHL In-Port Race departure ceremony in Itajai, Brazil, in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race) Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race© |
At the time of this writing, Puma Ocean Racing's Mar Mostro was leading the charge out of Itajai, followed by Telefonica and Groupama 4. Stay current with the website for the latest Leg Six developments.
Meanwhile, Saturday's inshore race proved to be an eye-opener as Telefonica—once again dominating the racecourse—rounded the wrong mark and went from a fly-away first place to a solid DFL performance. While the team can afford the leader board ramifications of this mistake, the fact that their nearest rival, Groupama 4 managed to take first place doesn't help the Spanish team's overall prospects. Expect very close racing between these two boats until the finishing line, as it appears that Franck Cammas and his Groupama 4 boys have found a crucial new gear, which they are using to its full possible potential, as evidenced by their big win on Saturday, as well as their third-place Leg Five finish, which also helped to consolidate their overall standings.
Also offshore-related, the double-handed crews aboard the four-strong fleet of Class 40 that are contesting this edition of the Global Ocean Race (GOR) have now crossed Leg Four's halfway point. This leg will take the fleet from Punta del Este, Uruguay, across the equator and up the U.S. eastern seaboard to Charleston, South Carolina. 'The sky is full of stars and as the clouds come and go we get a chance to see the northern stars,' reported Phillippa Hutton-Squire from Phesheya-Racing. 'We're now at 8 degrees north and we've just sighted the Pole Star below the Big Dipper. Behind us, the Southern Cross is still visible.' While the stargazing sounds amazing, spirits are somewhat sobered by the adverse current that's robbing the fleet several knots of VMG. Get the full GOR report, inside this issue.
|Kristen Lane, Brickouse 812 - Melges 24, Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week 2012 — Day 2 ©2012 JOY | U.S. Melges 24 Class Association |
Stateside, Charleston Race Week has been the weekend's big news, with great racing taking place amongst a variety of One Design and handicap fleets in an unusual weather pattern that has so far featured patchy breezes, rather than the city's famous seabreeze. OD action is especially hot in the Melges classes, with a great battle royal taking place in the Melges 24 class between Kristin Lane's Brick House and Bora Gulari's New England Ropes. Given that the Melges 24 class is using this event as their Gold Cup, there's little doubt that the fight for first place will go down to the last day of racing (this Tuesday, April 22). Stay tuned for more, as it becomes known, and be sure to check out all the great Charleston Race Week coverage, inside.
|Megan Pascoe, 2,4mR class - Semaine Olympique Francaise de Voile 2012 © Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR |
And finally, strong winds disrupted racing on the first day of France's Semaine Olympique Francaise de Voile, which serves as the ISAF Sailing World Cup's second European stop. The RCs got in as many races as possible before the big breezes necessitated an early return to the dinghy park, but, sailors being sailors, everyone made the most of the conditions they were dealt. 'I don't think I've ever surfed the whole way down a run before,' said 2.4mR Paralympics sailor Helena Lucas, 'but the faster you went, you knew you were safe as the boat started bouncing on top of the wave. It was when you slowed down and then the next gust and wave would come and the bow would just disappear. At one point I was up to my waist in water, with all the pumps going!' Get the full report, in this issue.
May the four winds blow you safely home,
David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor
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