In this issue:
Yacht wreck leaves two missing – more here,
Volvo Ocean Race – world record speeds,
Sail-World Volvo Ocean Race Newsletter – latest issue here,
Sail-World NZL – latest issue here,
France’s Groupama completed a heroic comeback victory on Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Friday, strengthening their grip on the overall standings and realising a dream homecoming to the port of Lorient.
Franck Cammas and his men were cheered by thousands of fans on the Brittany coast after crossing the Leg 8 finish line at their home port at 13:31:02 local, 11:31:02 UTC, earning 30 points and extending their advantage over Telefónica, whose own victory hopes were dashed when they broke a second rudder while leading overnight.
It is an impressive comeback for Groupama who dropped to fourth place just two days ago when their mainsail jammed and the team spent a costly two hours with bowman Brad Marsh at the top of the 31-metre mast effecting repairs in storm conditions.
But the never-say-die crew fought back to reclaim the lead less than 12-hours before the finish with blistering pace in the North Atlantic low pressure system that packed 45 knots winds and four metre waves.
The French team’s victory hopes were bolstered by the misfortune of their arch-rivals Telefónica as the Spanish team were forced to slow to survival speeds after breaking both their rudders on the furious run to the finish.
Telefónica skipper Iker Martínez said the damage had effectively ended their chances of overall victory, with Groupama now enjoying a significant lead with just one leg and two in-port races remaining.
Brad Marsh Photo by Ian Roman/ Volvo Ocean Race
Leg 8 Winner Groupama 4
Camper 2nd Puma 3rd
Photo Credit: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race
Race leaders Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France, lead the fleet at full speed, on the approach to the finish of leg 8, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lorient, France
Photos Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race
Telefónica hopes of victory on Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race were dashed in the early hours of Friday when they suffered further rudder problems and were forced to reduce speed drastically.
At 0300 UTC Iker Martínez’s crew were limping towards Lorient in fifth place almost 50 nautical miles behind the leaders Groupama, who are on course for a triumphant return to their home port as overall race leaders.
Late on Thursday, Telefónica had held a one-mile lead over Groupama after making their gybe towards France.
That looked likely to seal an incredible comeback after they had successfully managed to fit a replacement after breaking their starboard rudder in winds of 25 knots.
However, during that gybe they suffered damage to the port rudder as well, effectively ending their leg hopes.
Leading the fleet, and with less than 300 miles to Lorient, the Spanish boat landed awkwardly off a huge wave in a seething seaway and suffered damage to the port rudder as well as a breakage in the spare starboard rudder fitted as a replacement on Thursday afternoon. Fortunately, the single effective rudder is the port one needed to sail on starboard gybe towards Lorient.
“It’s the first time that something like this has happened to me and it will be difficult to accept, but I’ll have to worry about that once we reach land and any risk is over. I can’t say much more for now. It’s a sad day for Telefónica and tomorrow is my birthday. It’s the right moment, then, to ask as a present that we are all on land safely,” the skipper said.
“When we gybed we were in 40-45 knots and big waves,” watch captain Pepe Ribes explained. “After the gybe we were sailing with the fractional and it was very difficult. We changed sails, a big wave hit, we Chinese gybed and broke the starboard rudder again. We’ve been sailing all night with the J4, no main, and we’re trying to get to Lorient safely.”
Skipper Iker Martínez added: “The mood on board is everything it could be in these circumstances. We’ve just lost any chance of winning the race around the world.
“More than two years’ work have gone in a few minutes. Now I’m content with just arriving without any more trouble.”
0240UTC: Reports on Team Telefonica’s Spanish website say that the former Volvo Ocean Race overall leader has broken both rudders and their skipper has conceded that they now have no chance of winning the race overall.
The message translated from Spanish by Google and converted to English essentially says:
The ‘Phone’ (Telefonica) was the first boat to jibe followed by ‘Groupama’. They both led the fleet and were within 300 miles of Lorient. An hour later the Spanish entry suffered damage to the port rudder and then the starboard rudder , so it has been forced to proceed to the French city at reduced speed.
‘ We sailed smoothly towards Lorient, about 12 knots. The situation on board is normal, but we must be very careful as we only have a rudder and damaged. Fortunately the rudder we can use is the port one, which we need to navigate to Lorient on starboard’, were the first words of Iker Martinez after the incident.
Damage to the rudder to port and starboard rupture has occurred falling off a wave.
We’ll bring you, the fans, right to the heart of the action as the six teams dash for the line in Lorient, France — and you can also watch all the action unfold on our race tracker HERE, updating every 60 seconds.
0430 UTC – CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand
0500 UTC – PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG
0530 UTC – Groupama sailing team
0600 UTC – Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
0630 UTC – Team Telefónica
0700 UTC – Team Sanya
We’ll have our live blog running alongside the live video calls, so drop in and post a question to your favourite team — we’ll do our best to ask it.
scroll through to 6:30 for the start of the Camper innerview.
The overall result of the closest ever Volvo Ocean Race could hinge on a risky manoeuvre the teams will try to pull off in heavy weather, fading light and close to the eye of a violent storm later on Thursday.
With less than 500 nm to go before the teams reach Lorient, and just one more offshore leg to come, the 2011-12 race could all come down to how well the six crews, led by Groupama sailing team, carry out a daring gybe in winds of up to 40 knots in the last 24 hours of Leg 8.
Telefónica, the overnight leaders on Leg 8 and one of four teams still in the running for the overall prize, posted a 24-hour run of 564 nautical miles to set a new best mark in the IWC Schaffhausen Speed Record Challenge.
Iker Martínez’s team were then given a reminder of how everything could yet change, however, when they slipped from top spot on the leg to third at the 1300 UTC position report after briefly slowing down before picking up speed again.
Telefónica are in second place overall, eight points behind Groupama. PUMA are 13 points off the leaders, with CAMPER 10 points behind them.
With just five miles splitting the top four boats the manoeuvre all are now contemplating could prove pivotal and will put the skills of the teams to the ultimate test when they’re at their most exhausted.
“The gybe is going to be super crucial — it will decide the winner,” said Andrew Cape, navigator on Telefónica.
“It’s a question of how far you want to push into the low — do you want a bit more wind, is it too much wind, how much shift do you get up for the gybe?
TELEFÓNICA OVERCOME RUDDER DAMAGE AND RACING GOES DOWN TO THE WIRE
In an adrenaline-filled afternoon in the North Atlantic Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) overcame damage to their starboard rudder and regained first place, while CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS) overhauled PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA), snatched third place and logged a distance of 565.82 nm in the previous 24 hours. The top four protagonists are all within 20 minutes of each other and not giving an inch.
It doesn’t seem possible that the final 350 nautical miles to the finish line in Lorient can be any more action-packed, however this afternoon as the wind increased, Telefónica were forced to back off in spite of previously notching up a 24-hour run of 564 nm, in order to replace their starboard rudder. With the wind rising to 40 knots and huge seas, the crew of Telefónica replaced their broken rudder with a spare carried as part of the mandatory inventory. Although their speed was temporarily reduced by 90 per cent, they were quickly back in the running and at 1900 GMT this evening they were back in their customary first place.
Telefónica navigator Andrew Cape described the current situation as ‘hairy’, with gale force winds predicted to continue until at least midnight. “It’s on the edge,” he said, adding that the team will be sailing with high boat speed until late evening when they gybe on to port tack for the approach to the Lorient finish.
Franck Cammas and his crew on board Groupama are still struggling with the mainsail headboard car, which jammed at the top of the mast yesterday. Bowman Brad Marsh managed to install another car so that the crew could shorten sail to two reefs. “We will see how things go on Friday morning when we try to shake a reef because right now, the profile of the mainsail doesn’t look great,” said skipper Franck Cammas.
Meanwhile, a serious arm wrestle is in progress as CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand race side by side with their three closest competitors. The team’s earlier run of 565.82 nm may yet be good enough to claim the IWC Schaffhausen 24-hour Speed Record Challenge, and the thought of winning the prized IWC Schaffhausen timepiece is keeping every sailor on board fully motivated. Tonight, the team were deliberating when to gybe and which sail to use to survive the night and maintain their podium position.
The crew of PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG in fourth place had hoped to gybe during daylight hours, but at 1900 GMT the fleet was still powering downwind at breakneck speeds on starboard tack into fading light.
“The worst is still to come. We just have to try to keep it all together,” said PUMA navigator Tom Addis said. “If you’re too conservative, your chances of winning are pretty slim because you’ve got very little time to make up the extra distance. We will see how we go,” he added.