Sunday, December 10, 2017

J/Sailors Leading Sweep of Volvo Ocean Race?

Team Vestas 11th Hour sailing Volvo race (Capetown, South Africa)- J/sailors leading sweep of Volvo Ocean Race after two legs? The skippers with extensive J/one-design experience were 1st- J/80, 2nd- J/24, 3rd- J/80, or in other words- MAPFRE, VESTAS 11th HOUR RACING, and DONGFENG Race Team. Yes, indeed, knowing how to cut your teeth on the knife-edge against one-design world champions hones your instincts to sail fast, consistently 24x7, and continually tweak the boat and sails to gain tenths of a knot, here and there.

The Spanish flagged MAPFRE team won Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race on November 24, the 7,000 nautical mile marathon from Lisbon, Portugal to Cape Town, South Africa.

“It’s amazing, we’re super-happy. We came here in one piece and in front of the others, we can’t ask for more,” said skipper Xabi Fern├índez (a long-time champion J/80 sailor in Spain). “This is what we will see all the way around the world. Super-tight racing, everyone has good speed and small mistakes are very expensive. This time we were luck to do the least mistakes and that’s why we won.”

MAPFRE trailed Dongfeng Race Team on the long charge to the south, but last weekend, 14 days into the leg and after crossing the Doldrums, navigator Juan Vila (another J/24 and J/80 sailor) and skipper Xabi Fern├índez put in a quick gybe to the southwest that Dongfeng didn’t match. It turned out to be a winning move; within hours the Spanish team had a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

In contrast, after leading from the first night, Dongfeng suddenly found itself in fourth place two weeks into the leg. But skipper Charles Caudrelier led his team to an inspiring fight-back. Over the final days, Dongfeng clawed its way back into a well-deserved second place.

“A good second place,” said Caudrelier (who selected and trained many crew on J/80s in China). “For sure, at one moment we were hoping for better, but a few days ago it was much worse and we made a fantastic comeback. Well done to MAPFRE, they made fewer mistakes than us, but we never gave up, the crew never complained, they just worked on the comeback… We have amazing speed in strong winds, we’ve worked on that a lot, and it was unbelievable, we were nearly a knot faster sometimes.”

Charlie Enright- skipper of Team Vestas 11th Hour in Volvo raceCompleting the podium was Vestas 11th Hour Racing, the winner of Leg 1. Skipper Charlie Enright’s team (long-time J/24 sailor and World Champion) was always in the mix with the leaders on this leg, but couldn’t find a way to slip into the lead.

“We’re happy with a podium result against a lot of good teams,” Enright said, dockside in Cape Town. “We’re not satisfied yet with how we’re sailing the boat, so we still have a lot of work to do, but we’ll keep chipping away. We’re still trying to get faster through the water and streamline our decision-making, but it’s a long race. We have time.”

MAPRFE won Leg 2 and now takes the overall lead. For Leg 2, MAPFRE sailed 7,886.5 nautical miles over the ground at an average speed of 17.3 knots!

The teams will now prepare for the In-Port Race on December 8 before the 6,500nm Leg 3 from Cape Town, South Africa to Melbourne, Australia that starts on December 10.  Follow these three teams on the Volvo Ocean Race here- http://www.volvooceanrace.com Add to Flipboard Magazine.