Archive | Volvo Ocean Race

Team Alvimedica is First to Cape Horn

Posted on 30 March 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Team Alvimedica] Team Alvimedica, the youngest crew in the Volvo Ocean Race, rounded the iconic Cape Horn first today just after 1400 UTC and only 15 minutes ahead of Abu Dhabi Racing, in a hotly contested battle at the front of the fleet.

While the 6,776- nautical mile stage from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil, is far from over and there are no race points for reaching the iconic landmark first, a Cape Horn passage is what offshore ocean racers dream about. It was the first rounding of the legendary landmark for American skipper Charlie Enright, 30, of Bristol, RI, and five others of the eight-member race crew. The young team has thrived in the downwind conditions that the big breeze and big waves have produced and they are having their best leg performance yet of the around-the-world race.

“It’s the Everest of the race, it’s a personal proving ground, so this is pretty special for us,” Enright said from the boat in a live interview to Volvo Ocean Race headquarters in the final approach to the Horn. “The squad’s done an amazing job. Everybody really stepped up and we looked to the leadership of the guys who have been here before. The team has been absolutely amazing – I don’t think anyone would have picked us to get here first,” Enright said of the young crew’s underdog status in the battle to Cape Horn.

March 30, 2015. Team Alvimedica leading the fleet around Cape Horn.

March 30, 2015. Team Alvimedica leading the fleet around Cape Horn. Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad said he was proud of the improvement the young team has shown since they started the race from Spain in October. “They are big role models for a lot of young sailors.”

The teams have been sailing at breakneck speed with the top four competitors in close quarters. Team Alvimedica executed multiple gybe maneuvers to skirt the ice limits set along the southern edge of the racecourse, leaving the crew exhausted but exhilarated as they rounded the Horn today.

Last week, the crews were sailing in the most remote part of the planet yet they were racing within boat lengths of each other during some of the closest competition the Volvo Ocean Race has ever seen. In a single day of racing, there were 14 gybes while skirting the ice limits, with Abu Dhabi Racing closing in at rapid pace. In the 24 hours before Cape Horn, Abu Dhabi set a new 24-hour speed record for this race with 551 miles. One of the race leaders, Dongfeng Race Team, suffered a setback when they broke their mast before reaching Cape Horn today. No injuries were reported.

March 30, 2013. Team Alvimedica leads the Volvo Ocean 65 fleet around Cape Horn. Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race

March 30, 2013. Team Alvimedica leads the Volvo Ocean 65 fleet around Cape Horn. Rick Tomlinson / Volvo Ocean Race

Enright is one of the six – along with fellow Americans Mark Towill and Nick Dana, Italian Alberto Bolzan, and Kiwis Dave Swete and Ryan Houston – who today successfully completed their first passage around Cape Horn, the bottom of South America where the Southern and South Atlantic oceans meet. They have earned the bragging rights that come with rounding the Horn as well as leading the Volvo Ocean Race fleet through this treacherous patch of ocean.

For New Zealander Ryan Houston this was his third attempt at completing a Cape Horn passage. “I’ve tried to do it twice now and it’s always something I wanted to do since I started sailing. It’s surreal to be the first around.”

The crew is bolstered on Leg 5 with the addition of Stu Bannatyne, a three-time round-the-world winner, achieving his seventh Cape Horn rounding today. Team Alvimedica navigator Will Oxley is also steeped in round-the-world racing experience and a veteran of multiple Horn roundings. OnBoard Reporter Amory Ross completed the Cape Horn passage in the last edition of the race, making this his second time.

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Dongfeng Race Team breaks mast, crew safe

Posted on 30 March 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Dongfeng Race Team] Volvo Ocean Race can confirm that Dongfeng Race Team broke its mast early on Monday (GMT, March 30) but fortunately nobody has been injured and there is no immediate danger to the crew. The incident happened 240 nautical miles west of Cape Horn at 0315 UTC on Monday, in the final hours of the night onboard Dongfeng.

The crew reported that the mast broke above the third spreader. They are not planning to continue racing on this leg and are heading towards Ushuaia, Argentina, under their own sail.

Reached via Inmarsat, a disappointed Caudrelier said “I’m gutted. As you’ve seen from the position reports we have been on purpose backed off a bit, not attacking in any way. The mast broke without warning, in about 30 knots of wind. We are unable to sail safely on starboard tack, but we are able to make reasonable speed on port tack. We will head towards Ushuaia and assess our options for getting to Itajai”

The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) is aware of the situation and is on standby to help if necessary.

We are in constant contact with skipper Charles Caudrelier and are establishing the full extent of the damage to ensure we give him the support he needs to deal with the situation.

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Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing hopes southern route will work

Posted on 29 March 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing] Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is banking on a crafty mini-breakaway south of the leading pack to give it the advantage as the top five teams rush headlong towards Cape Horn on the Southern tip of South America at speeds of up to 25 knots.

With under 500 miles to run to the Horn where the fleet will cross from the Pacific to Atlantic side of the Southern Ocean, ADOR currently sits in fourth place. However, skipper Ian Walker and navigator Simon Fisher are hoping their more southerly route could pay off if the other teams to the north need to gybe down to their track to get around the Horn.

As the breezes topped 30 knots overnight the fifth placed Azzam crew were the last ones to change down to a more conservative headsail and consequently gained on the leaders. By first light they had reduced the gap to first placed Team Alvimedica to under nine miles and continued to close. “We won the prize for who could keep the A3 up the longest,” reported skipper Ian Walker. “After a couple of broaches we called it quits and changed to the fractional zero. It was a pretty stressful night with boat speeds between 20 to 30 knots in pitch-black conditions and big waves. We are glad to have made it through.”

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is expected to round Cape Horn around 1800 UTC tomorrow Monday March 30. From there Walker’s men still have 2,000 miles of racing before they reach the Leg 5 finish in Itajaí, Brazil.

March 28, 2015. Leg 5 to Itajai onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Day 11.  Roberto Bermudez, aka Chuny, enjoys a hot meal after his watch as Simon "SiFi" Fisher looks at the latest routing in the Azzam nav station. Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race

March 28, 2015. Leg 5 to Itajai onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Day 11. Roberto Bermudez enjoys a hot meal after his watch as Simon Fisher looks at the latest routing in the Azzam nav station. Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race

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Southern Ocean rollercoaster

Posted on 29 March 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] The Volvo Ocean Race fleet reached the halfway point of their nine-month marathon – midway through the fifth leg of nine – on Friday and were still glued together in some of the closest racing in the event’s 41-year history.

For those on shore, the day offered the chance to take stock following a dramatic week in which three boats suffered Chinese gybes, but for the crews it was business as usual as they tussled head-to-head approaching the key landmark of Cape Horn.

At 1240 UTC, just 7.7 nautical miles separated the first five boats with Team SCA bringing up the rear, some 80nm further adrift. Dongfeng Race Team must think they are on some kind of Southern Ocean crazy rollercoaster. On Tuesday, they were part of the trio of boats – MAPFRE and Team SCA were the others – to crash over on their sides in a so-called Chinese gybe.

March 28, 2015. Leg 5 onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Batten car toggle broken. We had to put the main down. Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race

March 28, 2015. Leg 5 onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Batten car toggle broken. We had to put the main down. Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race

But, remarkably, all the crews managed to right themselves without overly serious damage to either sailor or boat and within 48 hours of the incidents, Dongfeng Race Team found themselves at the head of the fleet. This was no time to take it easy, however, for anyone.

The 1240 UTC position report on Friday showed the Chinese boat had lost pressure again and slipped back to fifth place behind new leaders, MAPFRE, with Team Alvimedica, Team Brunel and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing sandwiched in between. All was certainly not lost for Caudrelier and his crew, however, with MAPFRE virtually within view.

For Dongfeng’s helmsman, Damian Foxall (IRL), it has already been a memorable ride, after being called up to sail just this 6,779nm leg. “It is hard to describe the stress on board after the Chinese gybe – ‘is everyone here, is anything damaged?’ Yet three hours later, incredibly, we were back on track,” he wrote in a blog.

March 28, 2015. Leg 5 to Itajai onboard Team SCA. Day 10. Liz Wardley at the helm. Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race

March 28, 2015. Leg 5 to Itajai onboard Team SCA. Day 10. Liz Wardley at the helm. Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race

Sam Davies, skipper of Team SCA, was also in a reflective mood early on Friday. “It has been a hard few days; full of emotion, stress, adrenaline,” she wrote in her blog. As skipper it is hard to find the balance between pushing the boat and crew, but making sure we stay safe and keeping our boat in one piece. Out here, there is little margin for error. I feel like we have found our limits, and proved to ourselves that we are pushing hard. We suffered from our wipeout with the damage we sustained and it is frustrating to lose the miles like that, but we are slowly getting back to as near 100 per cent as possible.”

The fleet is expected to reach Cape Horn on Sunday, and then their Leg 5 destination, Itajaí in south-eastern Brazil, around April 4.

The race, with four and a half legs still to negotiate and six more ports to visit, remains too close to call, with the two overall leaders, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Dongfeng Race Team, fighting it on a level eight points apiece, and currently just 4.8nm apart.

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Dongfeng retook the lead

Posted on 26 March 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Dongfeng Race Team, almost literally knocked off their feet just 48 hours earlier, retook the Volvo Ocean Race Leg 5 lead on Thursday. The Chinese boat was one of three to crash on their sides in so-called Chinese gybes on Tuesday as a heightened sea state and 40 knots of wind (75 kilometres per hour) played havoc with the fleet.

MAPFRE and Team SCA suffered similar setbacks though, mercifully, none of the sailors involved were injured in the incidents and all boats are now sailing normally.

As they have proved time and time again in the race, Caudrelier’s men react only positively to such setbacks.
In Leg 4, their mast track needed an on-the-move repair for the third time in the race, yet they still recovered for third place in Auckland.

On Thursday morning (0940 UTC), while the overnight leaders were becalmed in a rare spell of respite from the brutal Southern Ocean conditions, Dongfeng Race Team found excellent pressure to make up 24 nautical miles in a three-hour period and move from fifth to first. Their lead, however, is still paper-thin in relative terms over the course of a 6,777nm, three-week leg from New Zealand to the south-east Brazilian port city of Itajaí.

The fleet still has the notorious Cape Horn to negotiate, probably towards the end of the coming weekend, and then the south Atlantic in the run-in to Brazil next week. They are currently expected to arrive around April 4.

Dongfeng’s Onboard Reporter, Yann Riou, not surprisingly, says that morale is sky high after taking the lead for the first time since the fleet left Auckland on March 18 – despite the challenges they are facing every hour.
“We have regular squalls interrupting us. It’s a constant switch between long periods of great surfing under blue skies and sunshine, and then intense periods of manoeuvres, often in the rain. Reef in, reef out, furl, unfurl,” he wrote in a blog from the boat. “The atmosphere onboard is excellent, but it will be even better once Cape Horn is behind us.”

The Chinese boat is ideally placed in both the leg and the race. The team shared the overall lead before setting out for Leg 5 with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, both on eight points from four legs.

The Emirati boat, however, had a sliver-thin advantage courtesy of a superior in-port series record.
Caudrelier and his crew can hardly rest on their laurels on Leg 5.

At 0940 UTC on Thursday, the first five boats were all within seven miles of each other, with Team Alvimedica, Team Brunel, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and MAPFRE leading the chase.

Team SCA were the fastest in the fleet over the early hours of Thursday, chopping huge chunks off their earlier deficit following Tuesday’s Chinese gybe. They trailed the pack by some 86nm at 0940 UTC, but were gaining all the time in relatively strong pressure.

We could yet see a completely bunched fleet negotiating Cape Horn.

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Wild night in the Southern Ocean

Posted on 24 March 2015 by Reporter

[Spurce: Volvo Ocean Race] Four of the six Volvo Ocean Race boats suffered big hits as the Southern Ocean gave the fleet its roughest ride of the race in 12 dramatic hours.

Team SCA, Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE did Chinese gybes* from Monday to Tuesday but all three crews escaped injury despite the boats toppling over. Damage was still being assessed in the aftermath of the incidents although Dongfeng Race Team appeared to have avoided any serious problems with the boat.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing also endured a drama-filled night, reporting a “night of two gybes: a wild one in pitch black with a massive wipe-out and then a ‘controlled’ one at 30 knots”.

Dongfeng Race Team were first to reveal a Chinese gybe, with their Onboard Reporter Yann Riou (FRA) reporting: “It took two to three hours to sort out the mess, the boat was on her side, we took 300 litres of water in to the boat through an air vent.”

Then Team SCA were similarly upended at around 0500 UTC, the all-women team’s Onboard Reporter, Anna-Lena Elled, reported. “We ended up on the side for maybe two to four minutes before slowly getting back in the right position,” she told Race HQ.

The crew was assessing the damage and already starting to effect some repairs, Elled continued.

MAPFRE also reported a third Chinese gybe, which happened around 2000 UTC. There was no immediate news from the Spanish boat regarding damage.

All four boats were still able to continue sailing.

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Rude awakening for Dongfeng Race Team

Posted on 23 March 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Dongfeng Race Team] This leg has been a rude awakening for Dongfeng Race Team. Until now, working collectively as a team, they have been able to compensate for the lack of experience of the Chinese sailors. Despite the fact the Chinese sailors are smart, learning quickly and their enthusiasm unparalleled – you can’t fool the Southern Ocean. And for the first time since the beginning of the race, performance is compromised as Charles openly admits that to perform well in bad weather conditions, experience is the only thing that counts.

Charles’ latest email from the boat tells you everything you need to know: “We’ve been trying our hardest over the past 36 hours to make a comeback. Unfortunately our 4 tacks to get some separation to the south haven’t worked out, and the leading trio have stretched out their lead – the right solution was to continue straight ahead. In our group of Southerners, we have really suffered from the anticyclone and its unstable wind.

Yesterday we were totally stopped in a wind hole and we lost 10 miles on SCA and 5 on Mapfre in just 2 hours. Last night Mapfre seemed to have been the victim of the same hole, and in a few minutes we sailed straight past him to leeward. This afternoon I awoke from my nap to see SCA again. Finally something positive, and we have found our speed again.

The crew have been making the most of these anticyclonic conditions to rest. The violent exit from New Zealand, combined with seasickness for some of them, really woke us up after 4 legs in the tropics. In 24 hours time its all going to speed up again, and we need to be ready to try and catch up a few miles.

Onboard life is now quite orderly, and our Chinese friends are discovering the cold, its still 15ºC and they are already dressed like its the Southern Ocean. They had better acclimatise because in 3 days time the air and the water will be just 5 or 6ºC. I admire them – with so little experience to have the courage to be here and to fulfil their roles onboard. I can see they are worried and stressed but they want to be here and go past this famous rock. Wolf just asked me how many days to the Horn. Nine. He seems reassured and satisfied, 9 days doesn’t freak him out after 4 long legs. I remember 5 months ago, I can still remember his face when I told him it was another 9 days to Cape Town. He was so fed up after suffering on that first leg that he wanted to give up sailing. In Auckland he was the most motivated to go in to the Southern Ocean. He’s almost certainly going to have some moments of regret though before passing his first Cape Horn.

Black got his smile again when he woke up and I handed him a completely new oilskins top. Yesterday he tore the waterproof collar of his Musto top. Since yesterday he’s been sailing with his spare top, but that one doesn’t have a hood. A detail when you are in the tropics, a real crisis in the south!”

Parallel to what Charles has sent from the boat Wolf also dropped a note to let us know he’s feeling like a Hobbit, the sea sickness has passed and he knows now that there’s no turning back.

“I did get seasick in the first few days, actually it didn’t affect me as much when I was working on deck. But I was silly and spent 20 minutes below deck and then I got seasick and I couldn’t help myself. Fortunately the wind got lighter afterwards. They say you’re supposed to look at the horizon more, so I took the medicine, and managed to adjust myself in the end. Everyone got a nice break in yesterday afternoon. It was such torture for us before, Black and I had only 5 meals in total in the past few days, Black had 2 meals and I had 3. We didn’t have the energy to eat, it was tough. That’s what seasickness does to you.

To be honest, this leg surprised me, it has been easier than I anticipated. We are taking the path sailing towards the east, there’s no big change in the temperature and it’s all acceptable. For now…

I remember the day I was suffering from seasickness, when I put my head out of the cabin, I saw a huge wave behind us. I’ve never seen such a huge wave in my life! I wasn’t scared, but you still feel something. After all, you’ve never seen something like this before.

I’ve been having a certain daydream recently, I feel like I’m a hobbit. I’m leaving a normal ordinary life – I meet with friends, we eat and drink together. And all of the sudden I ‘win the lottery’, (and the prize is that) I’m going for an expedition. Instead of the characters (in the computer games) that fight all the time, the hobbits love peace and not ready for the battle at all. But once you ‘win the prize’, you have to be ready to pack your bag and go fighting. For me, the most difficult thing is not the situation I’m facing right now, like all the other movies, the most difficult moment is (before you start to fight in the battle) you have the feeling that it’s going to be tough. But since the moment when you step onboard it means you can’t turn back anymore, you have to put your fear aside when you step on the boat. There’s no turning back.”

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Place your bets

Posted on 23 March 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Team Brunel] Going to the casino and putting a fiver on red is great fun. But let’s be honest, putting fifty quid on red is even more fun. It’s simply more exciting because the stakes are higher! “Within two days, we’ve a good chance of a 400 or maybe 500 mile split in the fleet,” says Bouwe Bekking.

Let’s all move closer to the roulette table, because the stakes are about to get raised in the Volvo Ocean Race. Within two days, the navigators need to choose between two totally different routes. The northern route (let’s call it red) or the southern route (black).

Betting your hard earned lead on red would seem to be a simple choice. Full blast Southern Ocean weather with 30 to 40 knots of westerly wind. In other words, hard hats on and go like lightening! The question is: will the boat survive?

Black is a somewhat more cautious choice: there is much less wind and the route will be upwind. So why would you opt for black? Black is more southerly. And more southerly means shorter.

Make a circle using your thumb and index finger. That’s the world. The distance from where your thumb and index finger meet, to the palm of your hand, is a lot longer than “down through the dip”. That’s the South Pole. To exaggerate a little: A trip around the world via the equator is quite simply a fair bit longer than a trip around the world via the South Pole. On a smaller scale, it can therefore be interesting to opt for a southerly route.

If the teams make different choices, we’ll see the same large split as in the previous leg. And we won’t know which colour is best until the ball stops rolling a few days later.

In the previous legs, our navigator Andrew Cape has proven that he dares to bet on a different colour to the rest of the fleet. It’s about time that this is rewarded with the jackpot. Even if it only means I’ll be enjoying my Brazilian mojito sooner. No further bets!

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