by Roger Nilsson (navigator)
0141 GMT this morning we managed to do what we have tried to achieve many times during the last eight months...To win a leg!
After an intense tacking battle with PUMA, which happened the last 30 min of the race, we crossed the line no more than one boat length ahead of her. Telefónica Black has finally developed to a winning team, perhaps it has been helped by not changing any crew the last five legs.
Our skipper Fernando was the master of this match between PUMA and Equipo Telefónica and it was great to watch him. He was totally focused as if it was the medal race in the Olympics.
We got the opportunity to attack PUMA half way up the last beat, the very last 10 nm to the finish line. The crew worked hard, fast and ever so swiftly as Fernando with Gonza at the helm, ordered tack after tack, to protect the right side of the course.
Suddenly it was easy to understand why Fernando won an Olympic Gold last summer! In spite of a broken jib sheet shackle in the midst of the hot tacking duel, we managed to stay ahead. This kind of tight, intense racing fits the Blackies really well as many has a background from America’s Cup or Olympic sailing.
After 21 flawless tacks the highly skilled PUMA team was, for the first time beaten by The Blackies. The Spanish team will surely be one to watch out for during next Volvo Ocean Race.
As this race now is all over I would like to thank my great shipmates onboard Telefónica Black for a fantastic time: Fernando, Gonza, Jamie, Javi, Neti, Pablo, Anton, Mike, Cicho, David. You have been great company these 13 months. Also many thanks to Pedro Campos who made this project possible and Bouwe Bekking who invited me as navigator onboard Telefónica Black.
Before that phone call in December 2007, I was sure that I was too old for such a demanding job, both physically and mentally. But all went well with my body/mind and it has been a fantastic experience. I will miss you all but on the other hand, it is time for a 60 year old to have a rest and taking it a bit easy... if I know how to do that...
Volvo Ocean Race