June 30, 2012
GROUPAMA CLOSE IN ON OVERALL VICTORY WITH BRETAGNE IN-PORT SUCCESS
Hometown heroes Groupama completed a last-gasp win in the Bretagne In-Port Race in Lorient on Saturday to take a big step towards overall victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.
Franck Cammas’ crew had spent much of the 9.2 nautical mile race fighting with PUMA for second place but all changed on the penultimate leg when they usurped long-term leaders CAMPER from the top spot and held on to take the win by just 13 seconds, picking up a maximum six points in the process.
The win puts them 25 points clear at the top of the overall leaderboard with just one offshore leg and one in-port race to go.
Five points for CAMPER’s second-place finish puts them top of the inshore series, level on 39 points with PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG after they claimed four points for third, their 11th podium finish in a row.
Telefónica took fourth, with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing finishing fifth and Sanya taking sixth.
"This is a very good day for us, especially seeing as we didn’t plan on winning," said Cammas, who has now led his crew to three victories in the in-port series. "It’s incredible to be doing so well. We were aiming for at least third place today -- we outdid ourselves."
A disappointed Chris Nicholson, skipper of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, recognised that his team had thrown away the victory.
"We snatched defeat from victory there,” Nicholson said. “We had that race. We sailed 95 per cent of it spot on and then just let ourselves down at the end.”
It was CAMPER who enjoyed the best start, overcoming the added pressure of having team manager and Volvo Ocean Race veteran Grant Dalton on board to rocket off the line in around 11 knots of westerly breeze on the waters of Lorient.
A split in the fleet up the first leg saw CAMPER round mark one ahead with Groupama chasing, followed by PUMA, Sanya, Telefónica and Abu Dhabi, who continued to be punished for a late tack during the start sequence.
Using aggressive tactics on the fast-paced second leg PUMA edged ahead of Groupama at the second mark, before dropping back to third when the crew lost control of the jib sheet.
CAMPER continued to lead, while Abu Dhabi were able to capitalise on a Telefónica’s inshore weakness and move into fourth place. Sanya slumped to sixth.
Under the watchful eye of thousands of spectators the teams fought hard to make gains knowing full well that opportunities for scoring points were running out and the importance of each meant more than ever before.
Just as the race reached its climax, a clever call by Cammas’ men saw them squeeze ahead of Nicholson’s crew to take their second win in Lorient following their Leg 9 victory.
Another disappointing result for Telefónica, who led the entire race up until the end of Leg 7, saw them slip further out of reach of the overall win from their fourth-place finish.
Focus now turns to the final offshore leg of the 2011-12 edition, a 550-mile sprint from Lorient to Galway in Ireland, starting at 1102 UTC on Sunday.
The start will be streamed live at www.volvooceanrace.com and www.livestream.com/volvooceanrace. Stay tuned throughout Leg 9 for round-the-clock coverage including live video calls to the boats.
Bretagne In-Port Race results:
1. Groupama sailing team, 56:12 (6 points)
2. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, +0.13 (5 points)
3. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, +0.24 (4 points)
4. Team Telefónica, +1:34 (3 points)
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, +1:48 (2 points)
6. Team Sanya, +4:45 (1 points)
July 1, 2012
TELEFÓNICA RIGHT BACK IN THE GROOVE AS GROUPAMA BID TO CLOSE OUT RACE
Telefónica smoked their rivals off the start line and led out into open water as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet set out on the final offshore leg of the 2011-12 event on Sunday -- with Groupama just needing a top-four finish to close out victory.
Having dropped to fourth overall following their terrible luck on Leg 8 and a fourth place in Saturday’s Bretagne In-Port Race, Telefónica made their intentions clear right from the starting gun of the 550-mile leg from Lorient to Galway, stretching out an early lead around the 6.5-mile inshore course.
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG were the only team who managed to hang on to Telefónica’s coat tails around the inshore section as the two boats eked out a 60-second advantage.
An aggressive start-line manoeuvre from CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand saw them penalised and relegated temporarily to the back of the fleet, but slick crew work saw them pull back to third by the time the fleet rounded the final turning mark.
Meanwhile race leaders Groupama, with a 25-point buffer at the top of the leaderboard, opted for a more conservative approach at the back of the pack, safe in the knowledge that the next 48 hours hold fast conditions that suit their boat perfectly.
Prior to leaving their home port, Groupama skipper Franck Cammas said he was buoyed by the forecast but still mindful of the capabilities of his team’s rivals.
“The conditions are not so bad for our boat for sure, but the routing is very easy, it’s almost straight, and in these conditions all the boats are very fast,” he said.
“If we have one issue on our boat we could lose a lot of miles so it’s a little bit stressful in these conditions.”
Rather than heading straight to Ireland, the fleet must first sail south 25 miles round the island of Belle Ile, which promises to be a quick run in 15-18 knots of westerly wind.
Once round Belle Ile the fleet will get a chance to stretch their legs in south-westerly breeze blowing between 20 and 30 knots – perfect conditions for Volvo Open 70s to hit top speeds.
Although just 550 nautical miles long, the leg will throw up some challenges for the fleet and the first will come this evening in the form of an exclusion zone off the north-west tip of France.
The teams will most likely pass the zone to the south, having to dodge shipping traffic in big winds and total darkness. A cold front between France and Ireland could make things even more interesting with squalls and small storms to negotiate.
Several metres of swell blown across the continental shelf by a powerful low pressure system in the North Atlantic will be yet another challenge for the teams.
By late morning on Monday the fleet should be rounding Fastnet Rock, the most southerly tip of Ireland.
From there it’s a straight run up to the Aran Islands, a set of three islands marking the entrance to Galway Bay that boast 200-metre tall cliffs.
Eiragh lighthouse, at the western end of the Aran Islands, must be left to starboard before the fleet turn east and head for the finish line in Galway Bay.
The current ETA for the fleet is 0000 UTC on Tuesday.
Follow all the action from the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race at www.volvooceanrace.com including rolling updates, regular live calls to the boats and a live race tracker.
Last edited by mpowlison; 07-02-2012 at 09:00 AM.
July 2, 2012
TELEFÓNICA LEADS IN HIGH STAKES FINAL SHOOT OUT
It has been an intense night on the race-track for the six-boat fleet racing in the final offshore leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP), desperate to put on a good final show after losing the overall lead on the Atlantic Leg 7, is in pole position, but all six are under 16 miles apart and the throttle is fully down.
In the past hour, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA) have pressed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS) to take second place, while overall leaders Groupama, are currently in fourth place as the fleet approaches the infamous Fastnet Rock 52 miles ahead, which must be left to port.
Overnight, as the fleet close reached across the Western Approaches at 18 – 20 knots, the English Channel produced its worst. Cold and tired crews were miserably huddled on the rail in 25 knots of wind, rainsqualls, fog and shivering cold temperatures in a furious race where no one is prepared to give an inch.
As the fleet approaches the coast of Ireland the wind is expected to drop, sending the fleet upwind for a short time before sheets can be cracked. There will be one critical gybe before the fleet can head towards the finish line in Galway later tonight.
Speaking from CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand earlier this morning, navigator Will Oxley explained that his team had decided on a very light boat for this leg with a massive stack. “It seems to be working so far. Also our timings on our sail changes have been very good and we seem to be hanging in there,” Oxley said.
Looking ahead, the navigator from Australia expects to see teams cutting the corners where there is favourable tide. “People are going to be pushing it, going as close as they can to the bricks. Probably the VMG run and the final gybe into Galway will be significant,” he said.
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA) chose an offshore option mid-afternoon on Sunday in search of more favourable wind angles, closing back with the pack as it converged on the western tip of the shipping exclusion zone set north of Ushant. The top three boats are less than 0.6 nm apart, while Groupama is just two miles off the lead. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) and Sanya (Mike Sanderson/NZL) are a mile apart, but 15 miles from Telefónica.
This is the final full day at sea for the class of 2011-12 and the last appearance offshore in the Volvo Ocean Race for the Volvo Open 70, which is to be replaced by a new one-design 65 from the board of Farr Yacht Design for the 2014-15 Race and beyond.
July 3, 2012
Groupama complete victory after epic journey
While CAMPER were celebrating victory in the ninth and final leg, Groupama skipper Franck Cammas led his team home in second place to take an unassailable 24-point lead with just one in-port race to go.
Groupama crossed the finish line at 00:49:11 UTC, just seven minutes behind CAMPER. PUMA finished in third place at 00:55:01 UTC ahead of Team Telefónica, who finished at 00:59:33 UTC.
Team Sanya crossed the finish line in fifth place at 03:14:27 UTC ahead of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, crossing the line in sixth at 03:23:29 UTC.
"It's a very happy moment for us and for all the team,'' Cammas said to the roars of tens of thousands of fans who came out to welcome the team -- including Irishman Damian Foxall -- to the Glaway finish. "I didn't think we could win. This is my dream."
Cammas, the 39-year-old Frenchman, threw his arms up and pumped his fists in the air while fans gathered on the dock of Galway Bay.
Groupama are the first team to represent France in the Volvo Ocean Race since Eric Tabarly's La Poste in 1993-94 and they are only the second French winners after Lionel Péan on L'Espirit d'Equipe in 1985-86.
The team gallantly fought back from a deficit that was as high as 28 points following the HaiTang Bay In-Port Race in Sanya, winning the next leg to Auckland and steadily improving their knowledge of their boat and cohesion as a team to surge to a commanding lead going into Leg 9.
With the sort of nerve that quickly became their trademark in the race, Groupama stayed serenely out of trouble on the 550-nautical mile race through wild conditions in the English Channel and around the iconic Fastnet Rock, to finish second across the line and seal their place among an elite band of winners in an event that began life as the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973.
CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand led the procession across the finish line much to the delight of surrounding flotilla of spectators, at 00:42:13 UTC -- their first leg win of the race.
CAMPER are almost certain to secure second place with 226 points, six points clear of third place PUMA, with just the final in-port race remaining.
Six points will be up for grabs for first place, five for second, four for third and so on when the final race of the epic 39,000 nautical mile ocean race starts on July 7.
July 3, 2012
Crews celebrate success at Derry-Londonderry prize giving
All ten teams competing in the last leg of the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race came together for the Race 13 prize giving last night at Derry-Londonderry’s Millennium Forum.
Welcome to Yorkshire was delighted to reach the podium in third place with Singapore taking second.
First place Gold Coast Australia deservedly celebrated their eleventh win and also received a special trophy for Race 13 presented by Hill Dickinson, the official supplier of legal services for the Clipper 11-12 Race.
The Hill Dickinson Cup depicts two racing yachts and was presented by David Ferris, from the company, who has won a competition with Hill Dickinson’s global offices to take part in the race. David joins the race in Derry-Londonderry to Southampton, UK via Den Helder in the Netherlands.
David is also planning to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care, a charity close to his heart.
The Mayor of Derry City Council, Councillor Kevin Campbell was present throughout and congratulated all the crews. He presented the Derry-Londonderry team with new ‘Legenderry’ polo shirts reflecting the city’s attest branding.
The evening concluded with a light hearted talent contest called ‘Clipper’s got Talent’ which went down well with all the crews.
The next few days continue with open boats, sponsor guest sailing and essential maintenance. However, the Clipper Race crew, friends and family are also having the opportunity to see the local tourist attractions and cultural venues in a series of organised tours.