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No hurry to leave!

Posted on 19 April 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] The Volvo Ocean Race fleet bid a lingering farewell after a successful stopover in Itajaí with an almost total lack of wind ensuring a go-slow departure for Leg 6 to Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on Sunday.

After watching the six boats drift in frustratingly super-light conditions in the south-east Brazilian port for nearly an hour, the Race Committee cut its losses and ruled that the fleet could sail into the open seas by drastically shortening the opening in-port lap.

Some 270,000 spectators have visited the Itajaí race village since the Leg 5 winners, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, arrived here on April 5. There were approaching 50,000 more for the departure of Leg 6, a 5,010-nautical mile stage, and the sailors appeared to be in no hurry to leave an electric atmosphere.

April 19, 2015. The start of Leg 6 in Itaja’; The fleet have passed the start line, Team Alvimedica make a good start. Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

April 19, 2015. The start of Leg 6 in Itaja’; The fleet have passed the start line, Team Alvimedica make a good start. Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

Team Alvimedica are the team with arguably the biggest desire to win the leg into their home port and they duly had the honour of leading the fleet out of Itajaí with barely three to five knots of boat speed. MAPFRE were their closest pursuers followed by overall race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Team SCA, Dongfeng Race Team and Team Brunel in that order.

Walker and his crew, who head the leaderboard by seven points after Dongfeng failed to complete Leg 5 because of a broken mast, had a miserable start as they found themselves on the wrong side of the starting line and had to turn around in slow motion before setting off.

Once the fleet escapes the immediate shortage of breeze in almost Doldrums conditions, the fleet should find appreciably more wind up the Brazilian coast through the Atlantic.

The leg is unlikely to match the previous stage’s treacherous conditions through the Southern Ocean and south Atlantic, but there are still plenty of challenges to test the fleet to the full. Light winds, however, could still hamper them along the way.

The boats are expected to take around 17-20 days to reach Newport, the seventh port to host the race.

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Cup competitors agreed on racing format for 2017

Posted on 17 April 2015 by Reporter

[Source: ACEA] The America’s Cup competitors have agreed the format for racing in 2017 with all racing taking place on the waters of the Great Sound in Bermuda, the home of the 2017 America’s Cup.

“At our Competitor Forum meeting this week, the teams agreed on the details of our race program in 2017,” said Commercial Commissioner Harvey Schiller.

All teams will compete in a double round robin format for the America’s Cup Qualifiers, which will be sailed in the new America’s Cup Class foiling catamaran.

The top four challengers from the Qualifiers will advance to the Challenger Playoffs which consist of a match racing semi final and finals. The winner of the Playoffs will meet the defending champion, ORACLE TEAM USA, in the America’s Cup Match.

Racing will take place in June, 2017. A detailed race calendar will be determined by the Commercial Commissioner in consultation with the competitors and Regatta Director and published in due course.

However, on 20th April Emirates Team NZ has challenged the ACEA information posting on the team’s FB a statement that “Emirates Team New Zealand would like to clarify we did not agree on the format or location of the qualifier because we have still have our case for the previously agreed qualifier in Auckland pending arbitration.”

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Dongfeng set for in-port race return

Posted on 14 April 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Dongfeng Race Team breathed a huge sigh of relief on Monday after the boat arrived in Itajaí right on schedule ready for the refit of a new mast. It has been a long journey for the stricken boat since the top of its mast fractured 200 nm from Cape Horn in heinous Southern Ocean conditions on March 30 during the treacherous Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajaí, south-east Brazil.

Suppliers, Southern Spars transported a new mast from Dubai, via Amsterdam, to Brazil and despite some major logistical challenges, that had arrived safely too by Sunday.

The boat itself was sailed by a shore crew team plus two Chinese sailors under jury rig, partly under motor, for 2,000nm through the Southern Ocean and South Atlantic for its rendezvous in Itajaí with the new mast. It had earlier found refuge in Ushuaia, Argentina, following the breakage.

April 09,Dongfeng Race Team mast is loaded in Amsterdam to Sao Paulo. KLM Cargo

April 09,Dongfeng Race Team mast is loaded in Amsterdam to Sao Paulo. KLM Cargo

Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard chief, Nick Bice, and his team will be working flat out with the Dongfeng Race Team shore team to ensure the boat is in optimum condition for the weekend’s Team Vestas Wind Itajaí In-Port Race on Saturday.

The ambition is to have the boat back in the water by Thursday with the new rig fitted and any other minor repairs carried out. “Today we know we’ll be ready for the next leg,” said Caudrelier early on Monday following the boat’s arrival. “Well done to the shore team.” He continued: “We hope to be ready on Thursday and go sailing in the evening to race on Saturday. Breaking the mast was a difficult moment. We lost the joint lead of the race, we lost eight points. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are now far ahead and they have a big advantage. It will be difficult to come back and we’re close in points with the boats behind – we could very well finish fifth. We have to stay focused. We’ll do what we’ve done in the previous legs and we’ll see what happens. Anything could still happen.”

As they did not complete the leg, Dongfeng Race Team collected eight points to go seven behind stage victors Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

However, as Caudrelier makes clear, there is still all to play for. Leg 6 sets off from Itajaí to Newport, Rhode Island on Sunday, April 19, and three more follow it including the transatlantic trip from USA to Lisbon (Leg 7).

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Cagliari cancelled

Posted on 10 April 2015 by Reporter

[Source: ACEA] The first America’s Cup World Series regatta is confirmed for Portsmouth, England, with racing on July 25-26.

The full event in Portsmouth runs from July 23 through July 26, with a wide variety of activities scheduled in the home port of the British challenger, Ben Ainslie Racing.

The event in Cagliari, Italy, previously scheduled for June, has now been cancelled following the announcement that Luna Rossa, the Italian challenger, has withdrawn from the America’s Cup.

The America’s Cup World Series in 2015 will consist of the following events:
Portsmouth, Great Britain – July 23-26, 2015
Gothenburg, Sweden – August 28-30, 2015
Hamilton, Bermuda – October 16-18, 2015

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Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing claim their second stage victory

Posted on 06 April 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing buried the miserable memories of three years ago to win an epic Southern Ocean/south Atlantic crossing in Leg 5 and claim their second stage victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. In 2012, Walker’s crew were forced to return to Auckland with hull damage and eventually retired from the leg to Itajaí, Brazil.

They must have feared more of the same when Cyclone Pam delayed the departure from New Zealand for three days, but despite taking the worst that the Southern Ocean and then the south Atlantic could throw at them, the Emirati team emerged triumphant after nearly 19 days of ultra-challenging, super-tight sailing.

Buda Mendes / Volvo Ocean Race

Buda Mendes / Volvo Ocean Race

Amazingly, skipper Ian Walker reported that they had reached Itajaí with the least amount of work for their shore crew to do of any leg so far in this edition. To add the icing to their cake, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing set the new best mark in the chase for IWC prize for the most nautical miles sailed in 24 hours with 551nm leading up to Cape Horn.

“Awesome. It’s been such a monster of a leg, we were so, so stoked with the 24-hour record,” said a jubilant Walker, 45, straight after crossing the line in front of a waterfront packed by thousands of spectators. “That (IWC record) was actually what got us back up with the leaders. Since then we have sailed very, very well. It’s a very tight finish.” He credited his team’s versatility for much of their success (elapsed time for Leg 5: 18 days 23 hours 30 minutes 10 seconds). “Seven out of eight of our guys drive, so nobody has to drive for too long. We rotate everybody and I can’t speak highly enough of everybody in our team.” He added that he dropped the keel on two occasions in the heaviest of the weather with 50-knot winds (92.6 kilometres an hour) buffeting the fleet, losing some ground, but keeping his boat intact. “In hindsight, that looks a pretty shrewd decision,” Walker said.

Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

The stage victory leaves Walker’s team seven points clear at the top of the standings with five of the nine legs now completed. That gap was opened up following the misfortune of a broken mast, which struck Dongfeng Race Team early last Monday and led to their retirement from the leg two days later.

The Chinese boat is now being sailed, partly under motor, to Itajaí where its shore crew face a race against time to have the new mast refitted in time for the start of the next leg to Newport, Rhode Island, on April 19. They will pick up eight points after failing to finish the stage and now stand on 16, still in second place, but only two ahead of MAPFRE and Team Brunel. Team Alvimedica are one further behind with Team SCA expected to finish on 29.

Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

Walker, in his third race, is far too experienced to take anything for granted yet, however, despite becoming the first team to clinch their second stage win of the 2014-15 edition. The leg was incredibly closely fought throughout its 6,776nm with MAPFRE, Team Alvimedica and Team Brunel chasing Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing all the way to Itajaí and finishing in that order. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing beat the Spanish team by a little over 32 minutes with less than an hour separating the leading four (see panel above). As usual, Walker barely enjoyed a wink of sleep over the final 48 hours with his pursuers no more than 2-10nm behind him all that time.

Apart from the closeness of the racing – virtually unprecedented in the 41-year history of the race – the leg will be remembered for living up to its reputation as the most fearsome in the nine-month offshore marathon.
Along from Dongfeng’s broken mast, there were at least three cases of Chinese gybes when the boats crashed to their sides before righting, and there were numerous cases of other sail and equipment breakages.

Team SCA had more than their share of problems, damaging three sails and then suffering a port rudder breakage on Sunday. They are expected to finish the leg on Tuesday.

In all, the fleet will cover 38,739nm and visit 11 ports and every continent. The race concludes in Gothenburg, Sweden, on June 27.

Leg 5 finishing times
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 18 days 23 hours 30 minutes 10 seconds
2. MAFPRE – 19d 00h 02min 56s
3. Team Alvimedica – 19d 00h 24min 32s
4. Team Brunel – 19d 00h 25min 48s

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A sprint to the finish

Posted on 03 April 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] The enthralling, absorbing Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race will come to a climax on Sunday when any one of four boats could claim victory in Itajaí after three weeks and 6,776 nautical miles full of thrills and spills. The stage has more than lived up to its long-standing reputation as the roughest and toughest of the entire nine-month marathon and a real boat-breaker.

It has seen the retirement of Dongfeng Race Team following a mast breakage early on Monday, shortly before the crew was due to round Cape Horn, and at least three episodes when boats crashed to their sides in Chinese gybes. Much more surprisingly, has been the incredibly tight racing at the head of the fleet and by 0940 UTC on Friday, it was still far too close to call with under 575nm to go. Overnight, there were no less than three lead changes with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing emerging in front after both Team Alvimedica and MAPFRE had briefly taken over at the head of the fleet. Team Brunel were by no means out of contention, either, just 17.3nm behind the leaders.

Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race

Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race

Behind them, Team SCA were doggedly ploughing through the south Atlantic, just over 700nm behind the leading pack with 1,277nm left to the finish in Itajaí (0940 UTC). “It’s like being in a washing machine,” said Onboard Reporter, Anna-Lena Elled.

Victory would put Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in a strong position after joint leaders, Dongfeng Race Team, were forced to abandon the leg and continue under motor and sail to Itajaí for a new mast fit. But the overall race would be very far from over and, in any case, MAPFRE, winners of Leg 4, were clearly in no mood to concede a metre to their Emirati rivals. “We have spent a crazy night, I hope the last like it in this leg,” wrote skipper Iker Martínez in a blog from his boat on Friday.

April 1, 2015. Leg 5 to Itajai onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Day 14. The final evening in Ushuaia before the motor-sail journey to Itajai for a new mast. Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team / Volvo Ocean Race

April 1, 2015. Leg 5 to Itajai onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Day 14. The final evening in Ushuaia before the motor-sail journey to Itajai for a new mast. Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team / Volvo Ocean Race

“The wind increased and veered so much that we ended up sailing at 20 knots against the waves, bouncing around. “It seemed that everything was going to break. A porthole flew off the boat and the only safe place was the bunk, squeezed against the hull because otherwise, as the boat jumped, you could be thrown anywhere. We would have liked to get more miles out of the situation, but it has not been easy to steer. The bowmen could have been washed overboard any time so we’ve been forced to put safety first. This is the third time it’s been like this since the leg started, yet we’ve not had these kind of conditions before that since we’d left Alicante.” He now expects a real sprint to the finish into south-east Brazil. “The dice has rolled. Now it’s down to a high-speed race for the last few miles, while we wait for the wind to veer starboard again.”

The leading four are expected to finish on Sunday afternoon/evening according to the latest estimates from Race Control.

April 1, 2015. Leg 5 to Itajai onboard Team Alvimedica. Day 15. Conditions worsen as the fleet outuns a nasty system of low pressure moving east off the coast of South America, with upwind sailing in 35-40 knots of wind creating uncomfortable sailing. Dave Swete driving upwind in wet and rough conditions.. Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race

April 1, 2015. onboard Team Alvimedica. Day 15. Conditions worsen as the fleet outuns a nasty system of low pressure moving east off the coast of South America, with upwind sailing in 35-40 knots of wind creating uncomfortable sailing. Dave Swete driving upwind in wet and rough conditions.. Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race

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Commercial commissioner comments on Luna Rossa

Posted on 03 April 2015 by Reporter

[Source: America’s Cup] The America’s Cup is disappointed to learn that Luna Rossa intends to withdraw its challenge for the 2017 America’s Cup. While we have not yet received a formal notice of withdrawal, we take the team’s media statement that they are leaving the America’s Cup as real.

“I know all are disappointed with this decision taken by Luna Rossa, especially based upon their significant history in the America’s Cup,” said Commercial Commissioner Harvey Schiller.

“Since we started the Competitor Forum, I’ve worked closely with skipper Max Sirena on many issues facing the America’s Cup and our teams. We offered a range of solutions for reducing costs by introducing a new America’s Cup Class. Unfortunately Luna Rossa wasn’t prepared to accept the majority decision, as written in accordance with the rules of the event.

“It’s difficult to understand this withdrawal when our shared purpose has been to control expenses, encourage additional entries and build a better future for the Cup. It’s even more puzzling as it was Luna Rossa who insisted on the switch to majority rule on these issues.

“But looking at the bigger picture, the America’s Cup is now more accessible for new teams and with a new generation of people like Ben Ainslie, Nathan Outteridge, Jimmy Spithill, Franck Cammas and Pete Burling we have a strong foundation for a very competitive event.”

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Luna Rossa Challenge announces its withdrawal from the 35th Americas Cup

Posted on 02 April 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Luna Rossa Challenge] The result of the vote proposed by the Event Authority with the agreement of the Defender of the 35th America’s Cup has overturned, with a majority vote, the America’s Cup Class Rule for the boat with which this edition will be held; this happened notwithstanding the fact that such rule had been previously adopted unanimously by the teams and was in force since June 2014.

Following a careful evaluation of the serious implications of this unprecedented initiative, Team Luna Rossa confirms that it will withdraw from the 35th America’s Cup.

Team Luna Rossa indeed considers illegitimate the procedure adopted and founded on an evident abuse of process by surreptitious use of procedures to modify the Protocol in order to overturn the Class Rule, which instead requires the unanimity of the teams entered.

This is an attempt to introduce boats that are substantially monotypes and in total contrast with the ultra-centennial tradition of the America’s Cup, not to mention a two-month extension period to introduce further modifications to the rules, decided by the majority.

All of the above contributes to a lack of credibility and uncertain technical grounds for what should instead be the most sophisticated sailing competition in the world.

This radical change also implies a waste of important resources already invested based on the rules that were sanctioned in June last year. This means that the claim to reduce costs reveals itself as a pure pretext aimed to annihilate research and development achievements of some teams, and to favor instead preconceived technical and sporting positions by means of changing the most important element in the competition, the boat.

As a confirmation of this, it is important to underline the fact that Luna Rossa frequently advanced proposals aimed at containing costs that however would not have changed the nature of the boats, but these proposals have systematically been rejected by the Defender.

Team Luna Rossa has also taken into consideration the possibility to protest through the Arbitration Panel as foreseen by the Protocol; it has however noted that, ten months after signing the Protocol, the Defender is only now initiating the first formal procedures to compose this important body. This fact contributes to making the entire governance of the Event even less credible and reliable.

Team Luna Rossa regrets the repercussions that this difficult decision will have on the members of the Team – although it will honor all of its contractual obligations – and on the sailing event planned to take place in Cagliari next June and obviously understands the disappointment of the many fans who have supported Luna Rossa during the last four editions of the America’s Cup.

Patrizio Bertelli declared: “I want to thank the whole team for its hard work during this past year; regretfully this effort has been frustrated by this manoeuvre that is unprecedented in the history of the America’s Cup.

However, in sports, as in life, one cannot always go for compromise, after compromise, after compromise; sometimes it is necessary to make decisions that are painful but must be clear cut, as only these can make everybody aware of the drifts of the system and therefore set the basis for the future: respect of legality and sportsmanship”.

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