Monday, 8 December 2008

TELEFÓNICA BLUE Fifth to Finish VOR Leg One

by Volvo Ocean Race media

Bouwe Bekking/NED with the crew of Telefónica Blue became the fifth team to finish leg one of the Volvo Ocean Race in Cape Town today, 3rd November. She crossed the finish at 1118 GMT (1318 local time) after an elapsed leg time of 22 days 23 hours 18 minutes 37 seconds (22:23:18:37). Even though the team has been sailing for fifth position, the crew has been working as hard as if it had been for first place.

On arrival, skipper Bouwe Bekking said, “It feels great to be here in Cape Town. It was a hard leg and we learnt a lot and I think we came back well after the breakages of the first night. It is nice to be here with my family. Seeing my family is my biggest thing to look forward to.”

Navigator Simon Fisher/GBR said, “It was a wet trip. We had a big couple of days in the south Atlantic when the boat was completely covered in water. We did have to bail out as, with so much water going over the deck, some ended up below. It was good, but hard. I think we were unlucky with the breakages, which put us on the back foot. It was frustrating, though we were improving all the time. We have learnt a lot in the last week, which will help us to be a lot more competitive. Everybody is happy and healthy and glad to be in Cape Town.”

Telefónica Blue has been playing catch-up for the entire leg when an early setback cost them dearly. After motoring out to the start area, with His Majesty King Juan Carlos 1 of Spain and his daughter the Infanta Dona Elena onboard for a short time, on day two, just 20 miles from the start, part of the steering broke.

As only one rudder was working, and the crew was flying a large spinnaker, the boat immediately wiped out as the crew lost control. The boat slowed for nearly six hours while the crew tried to make a repair, but the decision was made to divert to Algeciras, in the bay of Gibraltar, for a 12-hour pitstop.

Back out on the track, the team found good breeze and the pitstop did not appear to be as harmful as the crew first thought. Bekking, and navigator Simon Fisher (GBR), watched the computer carefully, looking at all their options. But, by day six, they were still trying to claw back the miles, and patience was wearing thin.

On day eight, 18 October, the crew dared to fly their big repaired spinnaker. “For the first time, we are back up to our potential numbers,” Bekking wrote. As the fleet ran into the Doldrums’ brick wall, Telefónica Blue was back in contention, just 48nm behind PUMA.

Narrowly avoiding a partially submerged log on day 15, the team had another near miss, this time with something living. “Judging by the hole it left in the water, and the speed it went away, it was pretty big and not best pleased to see us,” said Simon Fisher at the time.

As the fleet waited for the anticipated 40-knot gales to arrive, the crew of Telefónica Blue found themselves situated to the east and rather too near the centre of the South Atlantic High for comfort. “It just hurts badly,” Bekking said when the crew had to sail on the unfavoured gybe, away from Cape Town, to escape.

But, as the gales swept over the fleet, Telefónica Blue had to throttle back and watch the leaders streak off into the sunset. “We were way too close to the edge, too early,” explained Simon Fisher

Day 20 and the Spanish crew took a dive south and spotted their first Albatross. The sun was shining, the wind had eased and the waves were just a little bit smaller.

For the first time in days, life onboard Telefónica Blue was a good. The team had overhauled three boats and was now in fifth place, but, on day 22, once again the boat flipped on its side as she careered out of control. All hands were called on deck to drop the spinnaker, which had fallen in the water, but miraculously had stayed in one piece.

The leg finished with the boat playing her Stealth card yesterday and keeping the advances from Team Russia in abeyance. “We sailed tactically well this last couple of days, and played the ‘stealth’ card very well,” said Bekking this morning.
The next boat to finish will be Team Russia later this afternoon.

Leg One Finishing Order into Cape Town
1. Ericsson 4 SWE (Torben Grael/BRA)
2. PUMA USA (Ken Read/USA)
3. Ericsson 3 SWE (Anders Lewander/SWE)
4. Green Dragon IRL/CHN (Ian Walker/GBR)
5. Telefónica Blue ESP (Bouwe Bekking/NED)

Overall Leaderboard (Provisional)
1. Ericsson 4: 14 points (FINISHED)
2. PUMA : 13 points (FINISHED)
3. Green Dragon: 11 points (FINISHED)
4. Telefónica Blue: 10 points (FINISHED)
5. Telefónica Black: 6 points (RACING)
6. Ericsson 3: 5 points (FINISHED)
7. Delta Lloyd: 2 points (RACING)
8. Team Russia: 1 point (RACING)

Volvo Ocean Race

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