CAMPER leads boats safely through Gibraltar
With Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Sanya back in port after being forced to suspend racing, it was a relief for the rest of the fleet to make it out of the worst of the conditions and through the tidal bottleneck at Gibraltar.
CAMPER were being chased by Team Telefónica, Groupama sailing team and PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG.
The boats now face the prospect of adjusting to the light airs as they contemplate the remainder of the mammoth 6,500 nautical mile, three-week journey to Cape Town on Leg 1.
"There is some satisfaction on board having left the Med in the lead but also the grounding prospect that there is a long, long way to go in this leg," said CAMPER's Media Crew Member Hamish Hooper.
"'From the sublime to the ridiculous -- 38 knots to five knots,' is how our navigator Will Oxley describes the transition from what we saw before Gibraltar and what we are facing after.
“The next challenge is the big area of light winds ahead, and how best to negotiate through these to hook into the favorable trade winds and remain in the lead.”
Telefónica MCM Diego Fructuoso reported that the team had passed very close to other traffic in the Strait but all was well on board.
"We're OK, with the boat behaving well," Fructuoso wrote.
November 8, 2011
Cammas gambles high on split from the fleet
The fleet has shown its hand and decisions have been made from which there will be no going back. Franck Cammas/FRA has made a bold move to take Groupama rock-hopping just eight nautical miles off the Moroccan coast, while Chris Nicholson/AUS (CAMPER) changed tactics overnight and paid a high price to join Telefónica (Iker Martinez/ESP) and Kenny Read’s PUMA Mar Mostro in the west. She is now 25 nautical miles (nm) behind Telefónica who still leads the field.
Cammas’s decision to split from the pack is risky. It is unusual to have such a defined split in the fleet, and Cammas is clearly confident in his choice. However, there is now no return for Cammas. He has made his decision and to change would be very costly indeed. His plan will be to pick up some thermal driving breeze from heat of the coast.
Overnight, the teams have had to work hard to keep their boats moving, spending most of the night in little or no wind and sailing at speeds more usually found in an Optimist dinghy competition rather than onboard the usually super quick Volvo Open 70.
The boats have been eerily quiet, except for the slatting of sails and the gentle lapping of sea on the carbon-fibre hull, conditions that demand full concentration when trimming the sails or driving the boat, and create plenty of headaches for navigators.
CAMPER’s skipper Chris Nicholson advises that, in these frustrating, drifting conditions, it is vital always to keep the boat moving. Although the Volvo Open 70s are easily able to cover nearly 600 nautical miles in a day, when they stop they are difficult to get moving again. Nicholson says, “Even if you are not going in the direction you want, just keep the boat moving and eventually you will find the direction you need.”
Things improved for the boats in the west very early this morning and patience was rewarded when, at around 0245 GMT this morning, the breeze kicked in for PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Kenny Read/USA). CAMPER also reported that the ‘gas burners’ had been turned on at 0500 and at last the boats are moving again, although it is still upwind sailing.
At 1000 GMT today Telefónica led the field by 3.40 nautical miles ahead of PUMA’s Mar Mostro who has swapped places with Groupama 4 and moved up fleet to stand second. CAMPER is in fourth position, 25 nm adrift of the leader and paying the predicted high price for heading west, but achieving the highest average speed of 14.2 knots.
A pattern of sailing, sleeping and eating is beginning to fall into place after the rigours of the first 36 hours. The mood in the fleet is general good and everyone is settling in now for the long haul to Cape Town.
Meanwhile, back in Alicante, Ian Walker and his team from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are making good progress and have stepped their replacement rig. They expect to go sailing today to tune it up and return to the point where they suspended racing sometime tomorrow. The news for Mike Sanderson’s Team Sanya is less promising and the boat is likely to be heading to Cape Town by ship in order to make repairs to the bow section.
Leg 1 Report: 08/11/2011 10:05:39 UTC
1 TELE 0.00 0.0 14.6 5946.3
2 GPMA 3.40 8.0 12 5949.6
3 PUMA 4.10 0.0 14.2 5950.4
4 CMPR 26.00 5.0 13.8 5972.3
- ADOR Suspended Racing
- SNYA Retired from Leg 1
November 9, 2011
Still smiling in uncertain times
It is clear that this is not your usual first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. In fact, Stu Bannatyne (NZL) co-skipper of CAMPER says, “The traditional first half of the first leg of this race is nothing like we are experiencing now.” Having done this race five times previously, Bannatyne would have a good idea of what ‘normal’ is, and it seems that the weather the fleet is contending with is anything but.
Out in the west it has been straight line sailing for new leader Telefónica (Iker Martinez/ESP, PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA) in second and fourth-placed CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS) who all continue to slog upwind, often without tacking for hours on end.
However, a change in direction will come when this westerly group nears the island of Madeira, some 92 nautical miles ahead. A frontal system is approaching which will bring about a wind shift, so all gear is ready for the tack and the crews are waiting for the signs. Once through this system this group will begin their turn south and enjoy some beam reaching towards the Doldrums, but this, the best type of sailing is still a tantalising 36 hours away at least.
Although the westerly choice still seems favourable, the rock-hopping along the coast had pushed Groupama 4 and Franck Cammas’ team into the lead earlier this morning, but at 1000 UTC today they had slipped back to third place losing 17 nm, largely through having to sail dead downwind in light airs.
Tomorrow Groupama 4 should pass through the corridor between Lanzarote and Western Sahara where winds will build. They are now over 300 miles to east of the rest of the fleet and 42 nautical miles offshore. Although the French crew describes their position as the ‘highway to hell’, they also say: “With Morocco just under our eyes, we really feel like this is the start of a round the world trip… A lonely one, and one that really wasn’t planned.” Speaking to Race Headquarters this morning, PUMA’s Ken Read said he was surprised by Cammas’ choice and would not want to swap places.
No one likes not being in the lead and on board CAMPER the crew has been left with a bitter taste after sacrificing considerable miles to edge west yesterday. They are now 60 nm behind Telefónica and have lost another 16 nm in the last three hours. A steely determination prevails among the crew who wait anxiously for the results of each position report every three hours. When the update arrives, good or bad news is met with barely a word; it is just about clawing back the lost miles and getting back into the game. The crew reports: “Everyone is still smiling and all still giving each other grief purely for the entertainment of everyone around them!”
Leg 1 Report: 09/11/2011 10:03:01 UTC
DTL DTLC BS DTF
1 TELE 0.00 5.0 17.3 5766.7
2 PUMA 8.00 1.0 17.8 5774.7
3 GPMA 16.70 17.0 10.2 5783.4
4 CMPR 60.90 16.0 14 5827.6
- ADOR Suspended Racing
- SNYA Retired from Leg 1
November 9, 2011 - 2200 UTC Leg One Day 5
Groupama 4 back on top
It’s losses all round tonight at 2200UTC as Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas/FRA) extends her lead.
Telefónica with the Spanish super star Iker Martinez has lost 20 nautical miles (nm), PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Kenny Read/USA) 19 nm, and the worst casualty CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS) has lost 24 nm. She’s now 105 nm in deficit and has only averaged 5.4 knots out to the west, while the French team is creaming along at 13.8 knots as the boat heads into fresher breeze on their inshore course.
Telefónica and PUMA’s Mar Mostro are just a mile apart, still clinging tightly to each other and watching every move, while CAMPER is out of sight, 21 nm further west with Madeira 60 miles on their port beam. Groupama 4 has about 60 nm to sail before the French team reaches the Canary Island of Lanzarote. But, it’s going to be a long painful night for the three in the west until they reach Madeira and a potential change of fortune.
November 10, 2011 - 1300 CET
IKER AND XABI NAMED ISAF SAILORS OF THE YEAR; GROUPAMA MAKES TACTICAL MOVE; ABU DHABI RETURNS TO THE SEAS
Alicante, Spain – Three different storylines dominated the mid-week action in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. Team Telefónica’s star duo of Iker Martínez and Xabier Fernández – who were honoured this week as ISAF World Sailors of the Year – led half of the fleet west into the Atlantic, while Groupama continued their tactical move along the West African coast, choosing the shorter, but potentially slower, route south. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing resumed sailing after re-fitting their new mast, departing Alicante on Wednesday evening.
IKER AND XABI NAMED ISAF SAILORS OF THE YEAR
The Volvo Ocean Race once again proved the world-class calibre of its competitors as Team Telefónica’s star duo of Iker Martínez and Xabier Fernández were crowned the best sailors in the world.
The two Spaniards were named ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year, 11 years after they were first nominated for the award. It’s the fourth time the prestigious award has been presented to competitors in the Volvo Ocean Race, the world’s premier round the world race.
Martínez and Fernández both appeared on video from on-board their boat Wednesday to speak about winning the prestigious award.
Martínez and Fernández, who have sailed together since 1999, won Olympic gold medals in Athens in 2004 in the 49er dinghy class before taking on the 2005-06 Volvo Ocean Race with movistar. In 2008 they returned to 49ers winning silver in Beijing before signing up for Team Telefónica’s Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 campaign, which they finished in third.
In 2010 they were named 49er world champions, and shortly after jumped onto the IMOCA Open 60 Mapfre for the doublehanded Barcelona World Race, claiming second.
GROUPAMA MOVES AHEAD WITH TACTICAL DECISION
Groupama’s bold call to split with the fleet and sail a more direct route close to the African shoreline appeared to be paying off Thursday morning. The team sailed under a full moon, with no clouds and temperatures around 20. The winds have been moderate at 10-15 knots.
Whether Groupama’s gamble pays off depends on whether they can break away from dying wind corridor down close to the shore and find the stronger, more consistent tradewinds, before their rivals do. Team Telefonica, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand all opted to punch west into the Atlantic in search of stronger breeze.
Around 450nm to the north west of Groupama, Team Telefónica were in second place Thursday, with PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG snapping at their heels close behind. CAMPER, in fourth, were some 90 nautical miles behind Team Telefónica and PUMA on the westerly course.
ABU DHABI CAUTIOUSLY RESUMES RACING
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are back in the game, resuming racing this morning five days after losing their mast in violent Mediterranean seas.
The team, led by British double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker, radioed Race Control at 0216 UTC to notify that they had resumed racing as they passed close to the point where, just six hours and 85 nautical miles after Saturday’s Leg 1 start, disaster struck.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing left Alicante following a round-the-clock effort by their shore team to rig and fit their spare mast to their bruised Volvo Open 70 Azzam.
Walker, who skippered the Irish/Chinese entry Green Dragon in the 2008-09 race, said his crew would take “one step at a time” and would not be able to fully test the mast until daylight – but promised Azzam would “soar again”.