Tag Archive | "Puma Ocean Racing"

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Puma assessing viability of all endorsement contracts and sponsorship deals

Posted on 27 July 2012 by Valencia Sailing

As if things weren’t already difficult in sailing, Thursday’s announcement from Puma could make them even tougher. The German sportswear manufacturer presented its financial results for the first half of the year and the best way one could describe them is lackluster. Puma seems to be struggling against Nike and Adidas and if it weren’t for the very good performance of the Italian soccer team, sponsored by Puma, that reached the Euro 2012 finals, the picture could even be bleaker.

Why should you care about the financial details of Puma in such details? Because, as stated in the company’s press release, “collaboration and endorsement contracts that are either not viable or in line with PUMA’s long-term strategy will be terminated.” For anyone even slightly related to grand-prix sailing Puma is well-known for its high-profile sponsorship deals in the Volvo Ocean Race. The German company is the official merchandising of the two organizations in addition to Oracle Team USA and also is the main backer of Puma Ocean Racing, the team skippered by Ken Read that finished third in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race.

No details were provided on the performance of the Puma’s sailing sponsorships but Antonio Bertone, Puma’s Chief Marketing Officer, had set the bar very high at least for Puma Ocean Racing. I’m sure he must have been kicking Ken Read’s ass during the month of July… Seriously though, one hopes that the return has been good enough even without a victory. In the 2008-9 edition of the round-the-world race, when the fleet visited Boston, the Puma store in the race village had its cash registers ringing all week long. In fact, in the stopover’s final weekend Puma sold more merchandise in that store than any other Puma-branded store in the world!

It would certainly be a major blow if Puma abandoned the sport of sailing. One thing is for sure, according to the press release, Antonio Bertone will leave the company by the end of 2012.

Here’s the reply we received by Kerstin Neuber, Head of Corporate Communications, to our question whether Puma’s sponsorship deals in the America’s Cup or the Volvo Ocean Race would be affected:

Dear Mr. Orphanidis,

thank you very much for your inquiry and interest in PUMA.

We are currently assessing all endorsement contracts and will come to decisions once the analysis has been concluded. When this is the case, PUMA will be announcing which contracts and sponsorships will continue and which will terminate.

Thank you very much for your understanding that we cannot be more precise at the moment.

Best regards,

KERSTIN NEUBER

PUMA SE
Head of Corporate Communications

Puma's Mar Mostro rounds the last buoy before heading around the world. Alicante, 5 November 2012. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / VSail.info

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Peter Thornton, new owner of Puma’s il Mostro, talks to VSail.info

Posted on 19 July 2012 by Valencia Sailing

Officially it’s called Chicago Yacht Club’s Race to Mackinac, but to the thousands of sailors who take part in the annual ritual it’s simply “The Mac”. It’s the longest fresh-water race in the US and most probably in the world, covering a distance of approximately 300 nautical miles. I have to admit that before I went to Chicago to cover the Chicago Match Cup, I had never heard of the Mac race. That’s why I was surprised to see Puma’s il Mostro sailing half a mile off Navy Pier. I would have never expected to see one of the world’s best offshore and ocean racing yachts on a lake! However, Lake Michigan is not a pond and Chicago businessman Peter Thornton, member of the Chicago Yacht Club, bought Puma’s il Mostro, the VO70 yacht that sailed in the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race edition, and brought it on his home waters.

Pyewacket, a Reichel Pugh 75, owned and skippered by Roy Disney, set the monohull record in 2002 with an elapsed time of 23 hours 30 minutes and 34 seconds. For multihulls, the record of 18 hours 50 minutes and 32 seconds was set in 1998 by Steve Fossett on Stars and Stripes, the catamaran previously sailed by Dennis Conner in the America’s Cup. Peter Thornton’s intention is to take line honors and, if conditions are favorable, break Disney’s record with il Mostro that will be skippered by Ken Read.

VSail.info: I always like to start my interviews with the owners of big racing yachts talking about their sailing background. What is yours?
Peter Thornton: I started sailing about 35 years ago. I bought my first boat and after three years I had just sailed on the lake front and became quite bored with it, so I decided to start racing. In my second year of racing we won our section in the Chicago-Mac. It was quite exciting for us and that’s when the bug really bit me. I started purchasing boats that some people thought might had been used up and then gradually graduated up to Santa Cruz 70s. I owned a boat called Halua, which I sailed for about eight years and we had quite a bit of success here on the lake front. I never went international with it, we were just sailing in local races. We had the GL70 division which was made up that time of eight-nine boats and raced together for several years.

Back in 2005 I had a first-to-finish in the Mac race and for some strange reason I thought I was done with sailing. I sold the boat to a fellow in California, in fact she is still racing in California and doing quite well. I was sitting around at the beginning of the year with some of my old sailing buddies Brett Reed and Willie Lynch and we were talking about what it would take to beat Disney’s record in the race. Willie Lynch said there was a boat sitting in Providence, Rhode Island, the old il Mostro, but we had no way of getting it here to Chicago. The boat is 18.5 feet wide which prohibits from being trucked. We could have gone to Saint Lawrence with it but at that time of the year it was too cold so we came up with the idea of taking the keel off it, loading sails in the bottom of the hull for stability and running the boat down the east coast to New York, then up the Hudson river and then through the Erie Barge Canal to Oswego, New York where it met with the keel and the rig. We then set her up there, in a commercial yard, and we sailed through all the Great Lakes to Chicago.

Peter Thornton's il Mostro sailing on Lake Michigan. Chicago, 18 July 2012. Photo copyright Bart Zienda / www.ziendaphotography.com

VSail.info: That’s quite a complicated way to bring her to Chicago! However, wouldn’t you say it’s quite an irony that you buy one of the most advanced offhore and ocean racing yachts, designed to sail in the world’s toughest oceans, and you sail it on a lake?
Peter Thornton: This is one hell of a lake! This lake can get just as rough as any ocean. I remember, years ago, Ted Turner referred to Lake Michigan as a big mill pond. He took his boat to the Chicago-Mac, grounded into a storm and changed his mind shortly after that. It’s the longest fresh-water sailing race in the US, and probably the world, and I thought it would be a real challenge. The Royono Trophy goes to the first-to-finish boat and it hasn’t been in the Chicago Yacht Club since 2005, when I won it. I thought I would try to bring it back to the Chicago Yacht Club and I assembled some very good guys, ex Volvo sailors

VSail.info: What will your crew be?
Peter Thornton: We are kind of overloaded but we are doing that because we feel this is going to be a learning experience. I had Kenny Read coming in to skipper the boat. My son Christopher and myself will be helming, along with Kenny Read and Stu Johnston. I have Brad van Liew who is a round-the-world single-handed sailor and will be doing navigation. I have Jared Henderson who was on Sanya in the last Volvo Ocean Race. We have Richard Mason who was on Ericsson in the one before. I have Larry Leonard who was with Quantum Sails and now with North. the balance will be made with quite a few of my old sailing buddies.

Peter Thornton's il Mostro sailing on Lake Michigan. Chicago, 18 July 2012. Photo copyright Bart Zienda / www.ziendaphotography.com

VSail.info: What about your adversaries? If your aim is line honors what boats do you consider to be the ones to beat?
Peter Thornton: We only have one boat, Windquest, owned by Doug DeVos. It’s a 100-foot boat now, they have lengthened it, they have given it waterline, a big bowsprit. It’s quite a formidable boat but I think that given the right conditions we can do a good job. i’m not making any predictions but I’m sure we can do a pretty good job.

VSail.info: What is the prevailing type of sailing in the Mac race?
Peter Thornton: The prevailing winds are southwest, south-southwest. You can get conditions like we had last year with storms rolling in from the Plains that can give you hurricane-force winds. I didn’t do last year’s race but I heard reports that people saw 100mph winds. It can be really dramatic when the storms come through. They could throw anything at you but most of the time you are in moderate to light air. We can build apparents so well, so that if we can average 10 knots of breeze we can probably beat Roy Disney’s record.

VSail.info: Last but not least, what are your plans for il Mostro after the Mac race?
strong>Peter Thornton: After this race we will bring the boat back to Chicago to do some social sailing with clients and people that have an interest in going out. We will put her to bed for the winter and make some changes that we feel we need to make. I hope somebody buys another one of these boats so that we can have some real competition here.

il Mostro CYC Race to Mackinac crew:

Pete Thornton
Chris Thornton
Greg Fordon
Chris Higgins
Willie Lynch
Rock Roney
Gary Marino
Justin Palm
Dean Tank
Larry Leonard
Stu Johnstone
Brad VanLeiw
Jared Henderson
Richard Mason
Ken Read
Brett Reed

Peter Thornton's il Mostro sailing on Lake Michigan. Chicago, 18 July 2012. Photo copyright Bart Zienda / www.ziendaphotography.com

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Juan Kouyoumdjian talks to VSail.info about the Volvo Ocean Race (Part II)

Posted on 02 July 2012 by Valencia Sailing

We continue our talk with Juan Kouyoumdjian, soon to become a three-time Volvo Ocean Race winner, focusing on the current VO70 yachts, their limits and the breakages they suffered in the current Volvo Ocean Race. Last but not least, we close our discussion by briefly touching on the issue of the America’s Cup and the breakage of the Artemis AC72 wing in Valencia [Click here to read the first installment of this extremely interesting interview]:

VSail.info: I think we covered the issue of the future one-design boat exhaustively. Let’s now switch our focus to the current race and the current boats. The entire fleet, with no exception, suffered severe breakages throughout the race, raising concerns about their seaworthiness. Do you agree that they have been designed too close to the edge, compromising seaworthiness for speed?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: I disagree with that although it all depends on your definition of the word “severe”. None of the boats we designed had to stop racing because of any damage. The most serious issue was on Telefonica that stopped for more or less 12 hours and I wouldn’t call that severe since she could have continued as she was although at slower pace.

VSail.info: Correct me if I’m wrong but both Puma and Groupama dismasted, forcing them to either retire from a leg or stop for a few days in order to make the necessary repairs. Wouldn’t you call that “severe”?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: We didn’t design the rigging on these two boats. However, what seems a little bit worrisome, at least to me, about this race, especially because it’s a very important race for all of us, is that this notion of reducing budgets is not new. Actually, budgets were reduced in this edition but this didn’t bring more teams. If we want to focus too much on the teams that want to spend less what will happen to the teams that don’t? There are such teams and, actually, there is a team that isn’t doing this race because precisely they were not specifically budget driven.

VSail.info: I don’t understand. Are you saying that a potential team didn’t enter the current Volvo Ocean Race edition because they wanted to spend more money?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes, it was Ericsson. What they basically said was “We want to re-enter the race but we want to do it with our philosophy, which means two boats, two-boat testing, development and involvement from our part”. Knut Frostad’s reply was “No way, I’m not going to allow it” and Ericsson decided not to go ahead. At that time there was a notion of budget limit but that proposal was then withdrawn. There are teams that are not directly driven by budget.

Barring any last-minute disasters, Groupama will give Juan Kouyoumdjian his third consecutive victory in the Volvo Ocean Race. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Volvo Ocean Race

VSail.info: You might be right but then it’s the old “existential” question in sailing. Do we want an America’s Cup or a Volvo Ocean Race with three or with eight-ten teams?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: You seem to think that smaller budgets will bring more teams. That’s the way it was presented and this is the bet Frostad himself decided to carry out. I wish him all the luck but it’s not going to work. If the intention was to drastically reduce budgets Knut Frostad should have done better than just 65 feet.

VSail.info: It is still possible that all three of your designs get the three overall podium spots of this race. As a result, I guess you have done many things well. Is there an area where you think you committed errors though? In hindsight what would you have done differently?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: You always learn and progress, every time you do something. I think that the day we think we can’t do anything better, we should close the doors of this office and go do something different. If you want, I could give you a list and there are plenty of things that we should have kept a bigger eye on. If this continues, I think that making very specific cases on quality control and making sure that some pieces on the boat are built the way they were designed; this is very important. If I can make a suggestion to the people that will be involved with the new one-design it would be exactly that.

Even in a one-design there will be rudders that will be built differently, resulting in breakages. That will bring again the issue of responsibility. What happens if Team A breaks a rudder and Team B, with the exact same rudder and under the same weather conditions, doesn’t break it?

VSail.info: You will never have the exact same weather conditions. At some stages, the boats are hundreds of miles apart from each other.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: The other day, Groupama and Telefonica were within meters of each other. One boat broke two rudders and the other one didn’t.

VSail.info: What caused the two broken rudders on Telefonica?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: It is currently being investigated and I don’t think I should get into that right now. There is a pending investigation and we can talk about that some other time.

There is a very important issue here though. You talk about seaworthiness but it’s not about the boat alone. It also concerns the group of people that sail her. While it might be good to try to reduce costs and lower the entry level for the teams, we should always be aware that these boats will sail around the world, achieving great speeds. They will need to have a very professional and highly prepared group of people onboard, which he have in this edition and the previous one. Imagine now the situation where the bar is dropped too low and you have teams that are not prepared in terms of not having enough time on the water, not enough budget, not enough controls on the boat. It’s the debate of quantity over quality.

VSail.info: Let’s assume there are eight teams next time and with a crew of just eight, the total number of sailors in the race will not be different from what we have in this edition, give or take a few. It’s fair to assume most of the sailors would like to race again, so the pool of available sailors will practically be the same. I think we’ll see lots of familiar faces again.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: However, the last entries will sail their new boat just two months before the start of the race. That team is going to break things. The last team to enter will be the one to have the least trained sailors and I still don’t understand why they keep talking about the breakages. The whole issue is wrongly explained by the experts and by that I mean Knut Frostad, because he did the race himself many times as a sailor. I’m surprised that a person that sailed this race doesn’t explain it to the public.

Let me give you very simple example. Take a rally car, the best rally car, give it to an amateur driver and ask him to race in the Finnish Rally, one of the hardest ones in the world. If he drives at 150km/h, jumps a crest and smashes into a pine how would you react? Would you claim that his car wasn’t safe enough? If he goes through a sequence of chicanes and smashes the car again how would you react? Will you claim again that the car wasn’t strong enough? This isn’t even debated in the rally world. If you jump a series of bumps, doing 150km/h and you break the car’s suspension will you blame Ford or Mitsubishi for that?

This is the point where it becomes a joke. Whoever thinks that because of doing a one-design the breakages will be reduced, is mistaken.

VSail.info: Then in your case, do we have to blame Telefonica’s crew for the breakages?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Not based on what I know today and pending an investigation of their construction, however when we design these boats there is a very clear discussion and exchange to what the limits are on the different aspects of the boat. You are very quickly facing the situation where you can design something to have more resistance or more reliability but this comes with a price that you will carry 99% of the race. So you tell the team “I’ll give you a pair or rudders that for sure there is no speed, no wave on this planet that can break them. Even if 95% of the race you’ll have more weight and more drag, in that 5% of the race that you will need it, it’s not going to break.” I can already give you the answer of 100% of the skippers.

VSail.info: Since you are now involved with both the Artemis Racing multihulls (the ORMA60 trimaran and the AC72 catamaran) could you envision the Volvo Ocean Race being sailed on multihulls?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes, I think so. I think that multihulls, in the world of sailing, are much more efficient than monohulls. The flatter the water is, the bigger the difference in efficiency is but multihulls suffer from sea state and waves much more than monohulls. So, in the case of a round-the-world race you would have to condition the design of the multihulls in a way to withstand these conditions and as such it wouldn’t be as fast a multihull as another high-performance multihull of the same length could be.

VSail.info: I don’t disagree but they would still be faster than the current monohulls.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Yes, they would still be faster than the current monohulls but the difference lies in the fact that a VO70 is today a very fast 70-footer, probably the fastest 70-footer there is. The fastest 70-foot multihull is probably the AC72 but you can’t race her around the world. The comparison isn’t applicable to multihulls.

VSail.info: Even if you don’t have the fastest 70-foot trimaran it will always be faster than a VO70 and it will allow you to cut the duration of the legs, let’s say from two-three weeks down to 10 days.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Multihulls is definitely a way to do that and it could be a good way of reducing costs as well.

VSail.info: Let’s now talk about the future. What’s in store for JYD after the end of this Volvo Ocean Race?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Our main focus, for sure, will be the America’s Cup. We will have to decide at some point whether we are involved in the next Volvo, even if it’s a one-design race, depending on the rules they establish. Maybe they write a rule which says that Juan Yacht Design cannot be involved. Maybe that makes it even easier for us. It’s sad to see that there is a possibility that we, as a design office, are not involved with the Volvo Ocean Race in the future.

The Volvo Ocean Race made the announcement about the new one-design and they now have to work to make it a reality. Making announcements is the easy part, making it work is the most difficult one. If it works, good luck to them but I still believe they is a big hole for grand prix offshore races.

VSail.info: Will you be involved with the IMOCA60′s?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: We have designed the new Cheminées Poujoulat and we have been offered the possibility to design another one. However, in that class as well they are talking about one-design and as a result we don’t know what the future holds. If the IMOCA60′s don’t go one-design, for sure we will be involved.

VSail.info: If they do decide to go one-design what will the process be? Will they invite bids from various designers? Would you make a proposal if asked?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: I don’t think IMOCA will be one-design because in my opinion one-design is not the way to go in these grand prix offshore races. One-design is not grand prix racing. It’s just a marketing event.

VSail.info: The MOD70′s are another one-design class that pretends to build a niche in offshore racing.
Juan Kouyoumdjian: It’s not grand prix either, it’s just a marketing event. They still haven’t raced and we don’t know whether it will be a successful class or not.

VSail.info: Last but not least, I can’t avoid talking about the Artemis AC72 and the breakage it suffered here in Valencia a few weeks ago. First of all, did your office design it?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: Well, the Artemis design team designed the wing and our office is very much embedded in the Artemis design team. What I can tell you is that we learned a lot from that experience. We are certainly applying that knowledge into what we are doing next and I truly don’t think this is going to be the last wing to have issues. We are in a very competitive world and, for the moment, I would to like to keep for myself what we have learned and I don’t want anyone else to benefit from that knowledge.

It is obviously, a setback because we would have liked to have the wing ready right at the moment the Protocol would have allowed us to sail the first AC72 boat. That’s not the case, so we will lose some momentum, we will lose some scheduled times we had originally but that’s how these projects go.

VSail.info: What kind of racing should we expect to see from the AC72′s?
Juan Kouyoumdjian: I think it depends a lot on what the organizers want. If they just want a parade of boats around some buoys for marketing purposes, we will just have that. If they allow enough runway and movement for the boats and crews to express themselves I think it will be very spectacular. Since the Challenger Series and the America’s Cup itself are match races the quantity of teams is almost irrelevant. At the end of the day you just need two teams. As long as you have two, you have an America’s Cup. Whether you have five, ten or twenty challengers at the end you’ll only need two. So if your question was whether a match race race between two AC72′s would be spectacular, I think the chances are it will be very spectacular.

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Puma first to round Fastent Rock as Groupama chase overall victory

Posted on 02 July 2012 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] PUMA led the fleet on the rounding of the iconic Fastnet Rock at 1031 UTC on Monday, marking the final 150 nautical mile stretch to the finish at Galway, Ireland, where the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 race will be decided.

The final offshore leg has seen some of the closest racing yet, with the top four teams on the overall leaderboard Groupama, PUMA, CAMPER and Telefónica each switching the role of leader since the race started from Lorient, France, on Sunday.

Just six minutes separated the top four around Fastnet Rock and at 1400 UTC with 113 nautical miles remaining it was PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG who held the narrowest of advantages over Team Telefónica, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, Groupama sailing team, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Sanya.

“The motivation is still there,” said PUMA bowman Casey Smith. “We’re racing hard, we’ve got all the boats around us, and we’re not going to let them get past.”

Ken Read at the helm of Puma Ocean Racing as they round the Fastnet in the lead. Fastnet, 2 July 2012. Photo copyright Amory Ross / Puma Ocean Racing

Fourth place would be enough to give Groupama overall victory from their first appearance in the race, though with conditions still far from easy nothing is certain for Franck Cammas’ team.

“No one is giving an inch,’’ CAMPER navigator Will Oxley said after a cold, rough and uncomfortable night’s sailing in the English Channel, which has pushed each crew to the limit as they fight to pour every ounce of their flagging energy into the final day’s racing and keep their winning ambitions alive.

“This leg and this Volvo race is going to come down to the wire.”

Abu Dhabi still have ambitions of winning the in-port series although their hopes of overall victory were ended by damage to their boat some time ago — and they were struggling for speed again on Monday with suspected keel damage.

“We normally struggle a bit, but now we’re struggling a lot,’’ skipper Ian Walker said. “I suspect we’ve got some damage to our keel, but there’s no way to find out till Galway.”

Sanya are eager to gain a place on the podium before the race is out and at 1400 UTC they remained in touch with the leaders, just behind Abu Dhabi.

Though the miles are decreasing the level of difficulty is not. After rounding Fastnet Rock, the most southerly tip of Ireland, the fleet sailed head first into westerly winds gusting in excess of 25 knots.

Proving key on the remaining course is the gybe that the teams will have to measure-up near the entry to Galway and a potential light wind approach, Volvo meteorologist Gonzalo Infante said.

“The leg could be won or lost on the back of how the teams play a critical gybe later today,” he said. “This gybe will set their layline to the waypoint at Inishmore Island off the coast of Galway, and if they get it wrong it could cost time and distance.

“There could also be opportunities for gains and losses in the final 30 nautical miles from Inishmore to the finish because a warm front passing over the area is causing unpredictable rain and light winds, likely less than 10 knots.”

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GoPro HD: Puma Ocean Racing – Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012

Posted on 12 June 2012 by Valencia Sailing

GoPro HD: Puma Ocean Racing – Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012

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Puma Ocean Racing leads fleet out of Lisbon for start of Leg 8 of Volvo Ocean Race

Posted on 10 June 2012 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Puma Ocean Racing] The PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crew won the start and led the fleet around the inshore course for the start of the penultimate leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 on Sunday. Leg 8 will take the fleet approximately 1,900 miles, out from Lisbon, Portugal, around the Azores and in to Lorient, France.

“It looks like we’re going to have some good conditions over the next few days and get to Lorient pretty quick,” said skipper Ken Read. “This is the time in the race you have to get a little lucky with what conditions suit your boat best. So, we’re probably going to need a little bit of help in the tight reaching stuff ahead, and hopefully in the power running after the Azores we can do some damage.”

PUMA led off the line down the first leg of the inshore portion of Leg 8 and sailed along the city side of the Tagus River, under the 25th of April Bridge to the first mark. PUMA’s Mar Mostro remained in front of the fleet around Mark 1 and 1:08 ahead of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand. The crew stayed out front as they went back down river, past the final two turning marks and headed out into the Atlantic Ocean.

Puma takes early lead of Leg 8. Lisbon, 10 June 2012. Photo copyright Paul Todd / Volvo Ocean Race

Based on the current forecast, the leg could take around six days to complete. The route will send the fleet northwest into the Atlantic around the archipelago of the Azores and on to Lorient.

“We’re just concentrating on the leg out at the moment,” said navigator Tom Addis. “We’ve got a pretty big uncertainty around the Azores where it could get quite light. So, we expect some good reaching out there, light around the corner and then it’s looking like a really fast trip home.”

PUMA has 176 overall points in the race and is currently in third place in the standings with two legs and two In-Port Races remaining on the schedule. The Groupama Sailing Team holds the top spot with 189 points, while Team Telefónica is second at 181.

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Iker Martínez: “I am one hundred per cent sure that the jury’s decision today was totally incorrect”

Posted on 09 June 2012 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Team Telefonica] 19 knots of breeze were blowing in the River Tajo today as the tide began to come in, at the predicted time of 12:00 UTC. That’s when the eighth inshore race so far of the Volvo Ocean Race kicked off. It took place in Lisbon with a course marked out originally along 18.6 miles, split into four legs, but after 40 minutes of racing, the regatta was cut down to 11.6 nautical miles.

The race began with the spinnakers hoisted, a downwind course and that was good for “Telefónica”. However, an early penalty which skipper Iker Martínez has qualified as “totally incorrect”, forced the Spanish boat to make a turn of 360º that wiped out any possibilities they may have had in the race, despite some good sailing. “A penalty with these winds, a few seconds after the start totally blows you out of the water”, said Martínez.

“We had to make a penalty turn at the start which obviously pushed us right to the back of the race”, explains the Basque skipper, back on shore. “The level at which we’re sailing the inshores now is much higher than it was previously and for that we were fairly happy, but today what threw out our chances in the race was quite simply a decision by the International Jury”.

The person in charge of rules and regulations on Team Telefónica is Luis Sáenz Mariscal. He explained what happened in the following terms: “What the umpire is saying is that we infringed Rule 17 which says that if an overlap occurs from clear astern you mustn’t sail above your proper course. My conclusion is that the umpires have made a serious error here and confused a leeward tack by “Puma” to hoist the spinnaker with a luff by ‘Telefónica’”.

In the Spaniard’s opinion: “They said what they saw on the water and they say that out on the water they saw a luff by “Telefónica” which meant that they weren’t able to keep clear of “Puma”, but the reality is that in cases like these, the rules are structured in a very simple fashion. There is a basic rule, which is the Windward-Leeward rule. Leeward has the right of way over windward. We were leeward and “Puma” was windward. “Puma” had to keep clear and they did absolutely nothing to keep clear. Then there are a series of limitations which state that we can’t luff too forcefully, that we can’t sail above our proper course… but these are exceptions applied in case of doubt and in this case “Puma” did nothing to keep clear and there was a moment where they did not halt the hoisting of the spinnaker and it touched our shrouds”.

In any case, as the lawyer points out: “The umpire’s decision is final and the matter is closed out on the water. There is nothing to be done and there is no channel for a redress or an appeal”.

“Groupama” won the race, about which Iker Martínez said that they sailed a great race. “I congratulate them, and they’ve also boosted their lead by five points, which is an important advantage for them”. American team “Puma” finished second and is now six points from Martínez and co in the overall rankings. The podium was finished off by “Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand”.

The penultimate leg kicks off tomorrow

The eighth and penultimate leg in this edition of the round the world race starts tomorrow at 12:00 UTC and 13:00 local time in Lisbon.

It will take the boats across 1,940 miles from Lisbon to Lorient, home of “Groupama”, and the crew on “Telefónica” are now completely focussed on it.

“We’ll start a new leg tomorrow and we have to give it all we’ve got, as always. Out on the water there are things that come up and different possibilities which open up, but here on shore, until we take the start we have to prepare as best we can, rest up and make good sail choices etc. to then go on to compete at one hundred per cent on the leg. That is what we are going to do, as angry and disappointed as we might feel today. We feel that this is completely unjust but all we can do now is focus on tomorrow and prepare as best we can”, said Martínez.

MORE QUOTES

IKER MARTÍNEZ, skipper

I think that it’s very unfair that this happens, because the inshore races can decide the round the world regatta, although it’s the same for us all. The juries need to take the correct decisions and I’m one hundred per cent sure that today’s was a totally incorrect decision. I hope there’ll be no complaining later that the regatta rested on these points, which is something that could happen.

XABI FERNÁNDEZ, trimmer

It was a difficult start, and downwind starts are always tricky and you don’t have as much control over the situation. It was a very tight start, especially with “Puma”, and everyone was lined up. Before the start “Puma” had won the position over us, so they made a better start. Just after the start there was an incident in which they came up very close to us as they were hoisting their spinnaker and as we were leeward we protested, thinking that they would be penalised for it. Of course we didn’t agree with this at all, but we had to take the penalty and that’s when we trailed behind in the race and it was very difficult.

Tomorrow the eighth and penultimate leg begins with a lot to play for. It’s a fairly short leg where we are likely to get a mix of conditions. We’ll set off with breeze and then we head for the Azores where there won’t be any and then as we exit it’s likely to pick up again. It’s an incredibly important leg and today we dropped some important points on “Groupama”, but I hope we’ll have a good leg. Everything slipped away today because of a decision by an International Jury and I don’t think we sailed badly, so we’re positive about tomorrow.

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No room to breathe for Abu Dhabi

Posted on 30 May 2012 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] The lead, which Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) has built up in Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Miami to Lisbon, Portugal, is approaching the critical time, with just 467 nautical miles to run to the finish. Will it be enough of a buffer to hold off PUMA Ocean Racing powered by Berg (Ken Read/USA) and Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA), both of whom have a shot at winning the race overall?

In the three-hour period to 0700 GMT today, PUMA had reeled in another six miles to close to within 22 nm, while Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) had taken eight miles to lie just three miles astern of Ken Read and his PUMA crew.

On the upside, Ian Walker and his men have seen the breeze drop and head, which has allowed them to sail a slightly lower and faster course. “Hopefully, our tighter angle can give us an advantage,” commented bowman Wade Morgan. But although the team morale still burns strong, navigator Jules Salter and skipper Ian Walker have been analysing performance and weather updates nonstop according to Media Crew Member Nick Dana. “It feels like we are being chased by a pack of dogs, and one cat,” he said today.

By midnight tonight, the fleet is expecting to be becalmed in a ridge off Portugal’s coast and Thursday will be tortuous. “Should make for some nail-biting hours in the sun,” said Abu Dhabi helmsman/trimmer Anthony Nossiter, as the crew prepared for what could be a ‘mind-bending’ experience in the last few miles to the finish.

A slow day yesterday led the crew of second-placed PUMA to re-appraise the setup of the boat, dropping the daggerboard lower, putting water back in the stern ballast and changing staysail combinations. “Thankfully the boat responded,” wrote MCM Amory Ross today. The team, who is looking for its third consecutive win, is more concerned with their nearest rivals for the overall lead; Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP), Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS). “There is more to lose against them than there is to gain against Abu Dhabi,” explained Ross today.

Meanwhile, the crew of CAMPER are smarting about their fifth position, having a tough time against Groupama and Telefónica who are now ahead of them. “These hard reaching conditions are right in their sweet spot,” said MCM Hamish Hooper. “They are like rockets in this stuff. Unfortunately for us, we are quite the opposite. It’s our Achilles heel and, as a result, we are bleeding miles, unable to stop them,” he added. “It feels wrong for us to still end up in the fifth spot, so we need to pull something out of the bag,” declared skipper Chris Nicholson.

Mike Sanderson and Team Sanya are still in touch and sailing fast enough to take six miles out of the lead. Although in sixth position, they are now within 60 nm of the lead and planning to try to ride the front for as long as they can.

With the breeze progressively easing between noon today and midnight tonight, the leading boat is expected to cross the finish in Lisbon late on Thursday night.

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