Archive | Volvo Ocean Race

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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Team SCA denied permission for sail change

Posted on 17 April 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Team SCA] The International Jury has denied Team SCA’s request to replace their Race FRO with their pre-race FRO after their sail was badly damaged during a crash gybe on Leg Five from Auckland to Itajai. However, Sam Davies and her crew are keen to take the experience gained from Leg 5 into the 5010-mile leg to Newport, USA, which is due to start on Sunday.

During the incident on Day 7 of Leg 5, the boat broached and the FRO tore down the luff and horizontally across the sail to the leech causing the boat to crash gybe. The majority of the sail ended up in the water where it continued to flog, while the crew recovered from the broach and then recovered the sail.

In their submission to the International Jury, the team stated that they considered that the incident was a racing incident, and one that occurs in trans-ocean races. Indeed two other boats in the fleet also suffered similar wipeouts.

A report from the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard Sail Loft deemed that the damaged sail was unusable. It also questioned the structural integrity. The report stated that ‘given the size of the tear and the area of damaged cloth it is not possible to repair SCA’s FRO to a standard where it would be suitable for the remaining legs of the Race’ and concluded that it was ‘not repairable for the purpose of being used for further racing.’

Sam Davies, Team SCA skipper, comments: “We are of course incredibly disappointed with the ruling. Not being able to use the FRO for two thirds of Leg 5 had a major impact on our performance. We will now look to do everything in our power to try to make this sail as usable and as safe as possible as, if this sail breaks again, there is potential for further damage to the boat and crew. But the reality is that there will always be a huge risk factor associated with the sail especially as we still have some 10,000 miles of racing left.”

Sails have been a subject of much discussion across the fleet since the start of the race and Team SCA raised its concerns on the limited sail numbers when the rule was first published. Race rules allow each team to have only eight sails onboard with four as back-up, which is one of the smallest inventories that this Race has seen.

With the sailing making team hard a work the rest of crew is now making their final preparations ahead of the Leg Start on Sunday. As part of the crew rotation Justine Mettraux and Sally Barkow rejoin the team for this leg, replacing Sara Hastreiter and Elodie Mettraux who sit this leg out. Corinna Halloran will be the OnBoard Reporter.

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The Spanish team MAPFRE given a two-point penalty

Posted on 17 April 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] The Spanish team MAPFRE were given a two-point penalty on Thursday by the ISAF-appointed independent jury for rules breaches during Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. In separate decisions, the jury made key rulings about the use of replacement sails for three teams.

After hearing evidence from Race Management and the team on Wednesday, the jury, headed by Bernard Bonneau, ruled that the Spanish team had applied repairs and alterations on the hull and on an outrigger without informing the Volvo Ocean 65 Class Authority (VCA) and therefore broke the Volvo Ocean 65 class rules as well as the race rules. The Volvo Ocean 65 class rules require that if a team considers that a repair is necessary, it shall inform the VCA immediately.

Bonneau added that the five-strong jury had decided that the work was not done with the purpose of improving the performance of the Spanish team during Leg 5 and their second place in the stage stands. The ruling, however, means that their overall points total is now 20 after five legs and they thus drop from fourth to fifth in the standings. The team had earlier argued in the hearing through their rules advisor, Luis Sáenz Mariscal, that in both cases with their bow and outrigger, skipper Iker Martínez had made the reinforcements because of fears that both were damaged.

Sáenz Mariscal added that the outrigger had broken on previous occasions in the race and the crew had heard a bang from the bow and feared it was delaminating. He said that in Southern Ocean conditions, Martínez feared that the boat and crew were in danger if the measures were not taken. He said the crew had not informed the VCA, but had openly shared video content showing repairs to Race Control in Alicante, Spain.

In a separate decision by the ISAF Jury, Dongfeng Race Team was given permission to replace their damaged race mainsail with their pre-race mainsail for the forthcoming Team Vestas Wnd Itajaí In-Port Race as well as Leg 6, which starts on Sunday (April 19). Caudrelier explained they had no option but to cut the mainsail to prevent further damage, potentially endangering the crew.

However, similar applications from Team SCA, to replace their fractional code zero sail, and Team Vestas Wind to replace their J3 when they return to the race following their grounding on a reef in Leg 2, were denied.

Team SCA’s sail was unusable during the stage after it was badly damaged during a Chinese gybe. It has since been repaired but according to skipper Sam Davies, may tear again once the boat returns to sea on Leg 6 from Sunday.
The race rules specify that if a boat damages beyond repair or loses a sail and does not have a spare race sail of the same code, it may apply in writing to the VCA and to the international jury for permission to use her pre-race sail of the same code.

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A state of play

Posted on 15 April 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Team Vestas Wind] This week, Team Vestas Wind’s Neil Cox updates on the progress from Persico Marine as work continues on team’s VO65 ahead of Team Vestas expected return to the Race in Lisbon. There’s still a lot to do, but things are moving quickly and in the right direction, as Coxy explains:

So the calendar shows us now that we are just under six weeks from needing to be in a position to leave the shed at Persico and load onto the truck for the journey to Lisbon.

It’s a little unnerving to think about this right now knowing what lies before us, but at the same time we have been making solid progress the whole way through the rebuild, and we are doing all we can to put things in place to reduce the risk of what could become problematic over the next six weeks.

The deck is on, the boat is out of the mould, all the primary structure is in the boat and a large percentage of the internal secondary structure and detailing is underway and we are closing in on wanting to have this all finalised before late in the month.

The hull surface has come out of the mould nicely and we have the paint team starting on all the surface prep work here, filling in any pin holes before the application of primer/undercoat, which, all being well, can happen by about the 16th of this month.

Before we get into all the systems install operation, we want to get the inside of the boat closed down in the sense that all composite work is complete and we have all the rule-compliant sealer coat and deck head vinyls in place.

With this done, we want to offer the teams from Diverse, Navtec, Livewire, Cariboni (working on internal components such as the electronics and hydraulics) as much uninterrupted runway through the boat as possible. Admittedly there will still be an exterior paint work program going on in parallel but they are getting the feeling they will be owning the night shift!

We are still receiving required equipment daily by the pallet load and have had the support of both Green Marine and VOR shared services helping with the transfer of both information and parts.

The race measurer, James Dadd, has been on site with us on multiple occasions over the last month as things narrow down to the pointy end of the schedule, and we are looking into dates that can work for getting some of the more critical final measurements taken before departure.

All the guys on the floor are doing an amazing job for us and the support we get from all the suppliers and Persico management has been fantastic.

Like all intense build projects, you can see the signs of wear on the guys but to their credit they have not yet shown any sign of things being in the “too hard” basket, but the reality is we are going to have some challenging days in front of us to hold this all together as required, but we have a pretty determined group.

Hopefully, in the not too distant future, the elements of the rule-permitted work that we can take on as a team can get under way, and from here we can begin the reassembly of all the deck hardware and begin to feel that our boat is starting to look like Vestas Wind again.

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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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High stakes

Posted on 10 April 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Two days after Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race was completed with Team SCA’s arrival, Dongfeng Race Team were in a desperate battle of their own on Thursday to transport their stricken boat to Itajaí for the fitting of a new mast.

The Chinese team were forced to retire from the event’s toughest leg on April 1 after their mast fractured in the Southern Ocean, 20 nm from Cape Horn. They found refuge in Ushuaia, Argentina, and a team of shore crew members plus Chinese sailors, Wolf (Yang Jiru) and Black (Liu Xue), are now sailing Dongfeng under motor and sail to Itajaí. The entire project is geared around having a fully fixed-up boat ready for the Leg 6 departure for Newport, Rhode Island, on April 19. But what if they don’t achieve that? “If we don’t make it? It will be the end of our project as we know it,” said Team Director, Bruno Dubois.

The best-case arrival time for the boat in Itajaí, according to a team statement issued on Thursday, is Monday, April 13. The crew is currently 1,000nm from their destination in the south-east of Brazil.

Meanwhile, a separate journey is underway with the mast being flown from Dubai, via Amsterdam, to São Paulo, Brazil. From there, it will be driven to Itajaí once it has cleared customs. The arrival time for the mast – with a ‘best case’ scenario, say the team – is also Monday.

Dongfeng Race Team’s statement continued: “However, that will just be the beginning of our race against time. “Once we have the boat and the mast, there is the work that normally takes a week to do in half that time – to prepare the boat itself after the tough leg from Auckland, and to prepare, set up and tune the new mast and rigging. Now calculate the odds of everything running smoothly. As it stands, we have no idea if the truckers will be willing to drive over the weekend. So best case scenario, the rig and the boat both arrive in Itajaí on Monday as planned. Otherwise, the rig arrives two days later and we struggle to make the Team Vestas Wind Itajaí In-Port Race (Saturday, April 18).”

The clock continues to tick, but shore crew member, Henry Woodhouse, who is currently helping sail the boat through the south Atlantic to Itajaí, remains bullish.

“Look out Brazil, here we come,” he wrote in a blog from the boat on Wednesday evening. “We may be late arriving, but we will be on that start line for Leg 6 ready to return with a vengeance.”

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Team SCA finally completed a gruelling Leg 5

Posted on 07 April 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Team SCA] Battered, bruised, but defiant to the last, Team SCA finally completed a gruelling Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Tuesday and arrived to a well-deserved Brazilian welcome fit for heroines. Itajaí reserved its very best weather for the arrival of the first all-women’s crew to enter the race for 12 years, a sharp contrast to the conditions the team have battled with since leaving Auckland on March 18.

At the beginning of last week, having struggled in 50 knots of wind and a confused sea state, Team SCA were one of three crews to crash on their sides during a Chinese gybe, damaging their fractional code zero, a key sail in the process.

The setback left them with no chance of keeping pace with the main racing pack led by winners, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), which completed the 6,776-nautical mile leg on Sunday. At one stage, they also lost their electronics overnight, effectively sailing blind in the Southern Ocean. Then, last Sunday, they were rocked again by three collisions with unidentified objects as they raced up the Brazilian coast in the South Atlantic, the first doing considerable damage to the rudder.

Undaunted, Davies and her 11-strong crew battled on to finish the event’s toughest leg at around 1352 GMT (local time 1052) on Tuesday. “We made it to dock! We made mistakes, we had things go wrong, but we fixed it all and we’ve made it here, and we’re in one piece so we’re happy,” said the British skipper. “We proved at the beginning that we could keep up with the others, but then we broke our fractional sail, the sail that we really needed for this leg. So we kind of let ourselves down by losing that sail. It was really, really hard; we were frustrated. There was nothing much we could do in certain conditions without our fractional. The race became a bit of different challenge from then on.”

Team SCA have earned five points to take their overall tally to 29.

The shore crew, working with the race’s Boatyard team, will now have a busy few days ensuring the boat is back to optimum condition ready for the Team Vestas Wind Itajaí In-Port race on April 18 and the Leg 6 departure for Newport, Rhode Island, a day later.

Meanwhile, Dongfeng Race Team, who were forced to retire from the leg after breaking their mast on Monday last week, are delivering their stricken boat to Itajaí under sail and motor.

They will have about four days to have their boat repaired in time for the Newport departure.

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Team SCA women battle on

Posted on 06 April 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) were still doggedly battling the elements on Monday to reach their destination in Itajaí, south-east Brazil, more than 12 hours after the leaders had finished Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Rarely in the 41-year history of the race can a team have worked so hard to clinch points for fifth place.

A week after crashing to their side in a Chinese gybe and damaging a key sail, the all-women crew found themselves toppled again after colliding into an unidentified object in the south Atlantic. That did some damage to their port rudder, yet their run of bad luck, which denied them a possible finish alongside leg winners Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, MAPFRE, Team Alvimedica and Team Brunel on Sunday night, was not over yet. They suffered two further ‘hits’ in the dark – mercifully, causing little damage – before continuing on their way. By 0940 UTC on Monday, they had just over 400 nautical miles (nm) of the 6,766nm leg to sail, with an expected time of arrival in Itajaí of 1600 UTC on Tuesday.

Team SCA’s Onboard Reporter, Anna-Lena Elled (SWE), summed up one hell of a tough day at the office for the first all-female team to contest offshore sailing’s most challenging race in 12 years: “As is so often the case, when you least expect something to happen it does and BOOM! we hit something with the port rudder,” she wrote in her daily blog from the boat. “The boat turned around, tacked and capsized, and once again, we were on our side. The crew managed to right the situation quickly without any further damage, except on the rudder that got hit. “A two-hour long process of surveying and attempting to restore the damaged parts followed before we could continue our journey towards the finish line again. “A few hours later we had one more hit, this time in the keel – and before sunset another one. What are the odds?”

At least they had the consolation of knowing that they weren’t alone in their misfortune during the longest and toughest leg in the 12th edition.

Dongfeng Race Team were forced to pull out last week after the top of their mast fractured and a delivery crew is currently nursing the boat to Itajaí where they will have a new rig fitted. It will be a race against time to be ready for the start of Leg 6 to Newport, Rhode Island, which departs from Itajaí on April 19.

Meantime, victors Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were celebrating Sunday’s epic Leg 5 victory, which leaves them seven points clear at the top of the standings, and front-runners for the IWC 24-hour Speed Record Challenge, having covered 551nm during the stage from Auckland to Brazil.

And there was more good news for skipper Ian Walker, with the crew’s sole Emirati, Adil Khalid (UAE), once more back to full fitness having missed the previous two legs due to illness. “As part of my recovery plan, I stayed on Sir Bani Yas Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi, where I had a rigorous fitness regime. I did six hours in the gym every day and had a nutritionist and physical trainer on hand to monitor my progress,” said Khalid. “It was tough, but I’m now fully cleared for action and right back up to the levels I have to be at to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race.”

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