Sunday, 14 December 2008

Volvo Ocean Race: All Eyes Turn Towards the East

by Volvo Ocean Race media

The second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race starts on Saturday afternoon, 15th November, at 1300 local time (1100 GMT) and the eight skippers shared their thoughts on the task ahead at the leg two press conference.

Leg two (4,450 nm) represents a very different type of challenge for the teams than the traditional route into the southern ocean. For the first time, the race is stopping in Asia, with Cochin, India the finish port for leg two. Although the fleet is expected to dip into the Southern Ocean out of Cape Town, the route to India will eventually take the boats north and across the equator for the second time in the race.

Large fishing fleets of small wooden vessels represent as big a hazard here as the ‘liquid Himalayas’ of the traditional southern route. A scoring gate south of Mauritius and along the meridian of 58-degrees east represents a further opportunity to collect points on the leg and keeps the fleet away from known areas of piracy. The scoring gate gives incentive to get east as quickly as possible, but that might not be a winning strategy for the overall leg according to Ian Walker, the skipper of Green Dragon.

“There may well be decisions to make as to how well you want to do at the gate versus how well you want to do at the finish,” he said. “But until we see the weather closer to the time, we won’t know whether passing the gate first is also the best way of finishing in India first. I can see different teams taking different strategies. I can see a team that’s maybe not doing so well on the approach to the gate not worry about the gate and head more directly towards India.”

The weather over this past week in Cape Town has been giving the shore teams a headache, as gale-force winds screamed over the V&A Waterfront, preventing many of the teams from dropping their boats back into the water after maintenance. But, overnight, the weather has turned, with a high pressure system building over the area. Winds have moderated, all eight boats in the fleet are now dockside and the forecast for the start is for much lighter conditions.

“It looks like it will be a tricky start, with a south-easterly blowing tomorrow and it will be interesting to see if it will fill in the Bay here,” explained Telefónica Blue skipper Bouwe Bekking. “We’ve seen in the past there are some areas of 25 knots and then, behind Table Mountain (in the bay), there is nothing.”

The start of leg two is scheduled for 1300 local time (1100 GMT) on 15th November. The fleet is scheduled to ‘dock out’ of the V&A Waterfront at 1145.

At the official leg one prize-giving on Thursday night, Ericsson 4, as leg one winner (and 24-hour record-breaker) walked away with the bulk of the hardware. Skipper Torben Grael paid tribute to his squad, calling the result, “a real team effort from the very beginning, starting with an excellent boat.” He also thanked his crew for pushing so hard.

The media crew member on board Ericsson 4, Guy Salter, was awarded the Inmarsat Media Prize by James Collett, director of commercial solutions at Inmarsat, for his outstanding work over the course of leg one.

“We are entering new territory with the decision that each racing team carries an ‘embedded reporter’. This has never been done before and I know that we have an amazing opportunity in the next nine months to tell the stories that have previously never been told,” said Collett, whose company uses the Volvo Ocean Race to demonstrate the robustness of its Fleet Broadband products, which are fitted on each race boat. Inmarsat will recognise the best media work at each prizegiving over the course of the race.

Leg one prizes
Best 24 hour run – 602 miles, Ericsson 4
Inmarsat Media Prize – Guy Salter, Ericsson 4
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Seamanship Award – Martin Watts, Delta Lloyd
Leg One, 3rd place – Green Dragon
Leg One, 2nd place – PUMA Ocean Racing
Leg One, 1st place – Ericsson 4

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

Volvo Ocean Race

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