Wednesday, 22 June 2011

VOR : Team Telefónica Training between islands

After one month in the Lanzarote base, sailing on the new “Telefónica” heats up “Telefónica” continues to train at the Lanzarote base

by Helena Paz

There are many things to try out and to learn from the boat ahead of the start, and training is not only confined to six hour daily sessions, but also 24-hour sessions. It is widely considered that this type of groundwork is key to obtaining good overall results in the regatta.

Whilst two weeks ago “Telefónica” moored at the Pasito Blanco marina, to the South of Gran Canaria, the boat also took on a 24-hour training exercise between the islands.

Training with 35 knots of breeze
A course of approximately 260 nautical miles from the Marina Rubicón at Lanzarote to the North of the island of Gran Canaria, which “Telefónica” reached in just five hours, then entering the channel between Gran Canaria and Tenerife, in search of the Southern breeze that whips between the islands.

“We left with the trades, which were good this week, between 18 and 25 knots, then at the straight between the two islands we got 30-35 knots almost along the entire coast of Tenerife”, explained “Telefónica” trimmer Xabi Fernández.

The Spanish boat's crew therefore found some ideal conditions for testing out different angles and sails. These are conditions they hadn't yet been able to train in to any extent: “For 60 miles we were really able to sail with that breeze, those waves, downwind, with the large spinnaker open... and really, it's the first time we've sailed with so much breeze for the spinnaker, and we are really happy, because it went well.”

The return leg was somewhat less “fun”, as close hauling tends not to be as speedy, with the sail time revealing just that, climbing up to 14 hours, also with no less than 35 knots. Thankfully, there were no faults.

What is a training session like?
Whilst certain sessions are designed to be as much like racing in a regatta as possible, it's true, as Xabi says, that “they are always different, and in training you never reach the level of concentration you have during a regatta.”

What does training mode mean? What happens at daily training? Mainly lots of sail changes, changes of course, and everything else that we can. “For example, we do 20 minutes at full throttle. Then, we change up for 20 minutes and all the time the navigator and the person analysing the data are taking notes and recording all of the information,” says Xabi.

At the same time, emphasis is placed on the ranges of most interest, such as going hard downwind.

When the day is up, the return to the Marina Rubicón is usually more relaxed, as the Basque trimmer on “Telefónica” explains: “That's when we normally have three up on deck and the rest having a break so that we don't risk losing a day the next day.”

How is the new “Telefónica” doing?
With the start of the Volvo Ocean Race we will be seeing all of the world's latest third generation Volvo Open 70s in action. That's when performance can really be compared and one can talk about good choices and bad.

What is clear at least, is that “Telefónica” is a completely different boat to the last edition, and that hasn't gone unnoticed among the crew. “The features and performance are really impressive. This is another evolution, so it is also normal that it runs faster than the others. It gives you the feeling you can push it more and the good thing is that we are getting some very decent conditions,” explained the sailor from Ibarra in Spain.

Training in the Canaries is making a difference. This week it looks like the breeze will drop at Lanzarote and there will be less wind around. Although it may not seem like it, that is also important when it comes to training...

Team Telefónica
Volvo Ocean Race