Newport, Rhode Island, USA, 30/06/2012
Emirates Team New Zealand win race four to break US winning streak
Jimmy Spithill’s ORACLE TEAM USA continues to impress in Newport, but were denied a fourth consecutive fleet race win by a hard-charging Emirates Team New Zealand.
“We had a good solid day,” Barker said. “It’s nice to win one and we have some good momentum going into tomorrow. The ORACLE TEAM USA guys are sailing well, but we’ll do what we can do and if we can win the race we’ll be happy.”
Newport delivered another perfect afternoon of racing conditions, with a sea breeze near 15 knots under sunny skies. Thousands took advantage of the warm afternoon to enjoy the sight from Fort Adams as well as in the hundreds of spectator boats crowding the Narragansett Bay course boundaries.
In fleet race three, Spithill threaded the needle at the start, barely squeezing between the Race Committee boat and two of his competitors, hitting the starting line as the gun fired at top speed.
“It was a risky start, but in this type of racing you really have to push things now and then,” Spithill said. “We knew if we got off the starting line well we’d have a shot for being top three in the race, so we’ve been pushing hard.”
From there, Spithill extended away while his rivals were engaged in battle behind him. Young Nathan Outteridge and his Team Korea crew had an impressive race in second place, holding off Emirates Team New Zealand, as Dean Barker threatened early, but couldn’t make the passing move and settled for third. Artemis Racing made its way up from near the back of the fleet to take fourth.
Fleet race four started like the previous one, with Spithill barging across the starting line to take an early lead. But this time Dean Barker’s crew had an answer on the first upwind leg, working a favorable path up the shoreline, away from the adverse current running down the race course, to take steal the lead. Loïck Peyron’s Energy Team too, passed Spithill and then Nathan Outteridge squeezed by on the next leg. But the ORACLE TEAM USA crew fought back to ease around the top mark just behind the Kiwis. Barker and crew held their position however all the way to the finish, with Spithill relegated to third, his worst result of the series.
With a second and a fourth place finish, Nathan Outteridge’s Team Korea climbed off the bottom of the leaderboard and now sits just two points out of a podium position.
“It was much better today,” Outteridge said. “I think we got what we deserved. We had some better starts and gave ourselves a chance in both races. There was a bit more breeze so we were really able to be more physical on the boat. The guys on our boat are awesome when the breeze is up, there’s never an issue with the crew work on our boat. Today has given us a good chance to get right in there and if we sail like we did today, we have every chance of getting on the podium and that’s what we’re here for.”
Meanwhile ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS withdrew from the first race of the day at the halfway point with equipment problems, after hitting one of the turning mark boats.
“I never did like the anchors on those boats,” Coutts joked. “But at least the hull that I was sitting on missed it!”
Coutts went in for repairs, and although he made it out for race four, he was late to start and never in contention, with the last place finish dropping the team to the bottom of the leaderboard.
Before racing started, the teams engaged in the AC500 Speed Trial. Here too, Spithill proved the class of the fleet, his second run setting the standard ahead of Energy Team and Team Korea.
Racing starts at 1430 on Sunday with the final of the Newport Match Racing Championship between the two ORACLE TEAM USA crews.
“It’s a high-pressure race,” Spithill joked. “For whoever loses, it’s going to be brutal!!”
Then it’s the fifth and final fleet race to determine the Newport Fleet Racing Champion as well as the overall 2011-12 AC World Series Championship. There are 30 points on offer to the winner of race five, meaning the Newport fleet racing title is wide open.
Sunday’s racing program is live, coast to coast in the United States on NBC, beginning at 1430. This means it will not be shown live on YouTube.com/americascup in the United States. However, the race replay and highlights will be posted after the live broadcast has concluded.
AC World Series Newport – Fleet Racing Championship Results
Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Race 4 Race 5 Total Points
ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL 1 1 1 3 38
Emirates Team New Zealand 6 2 3 1 32
Energy Team 5 4 7 2 26
Artemis Racing 4 3 4 7 26
Team Korea 8 6 2 4 24
Luna Rossa Piranha 3 8 5 5 23
Luna Rossa Swordfish 7 5 6 6 20
ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS 2 7 8 8 13
AC500 Speed Trial
1. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL – 24.77 knots
2. Energy Team – 24.00 knots
3. Team Korea – 23.79 knots
4. Artemis Racing – 23.72 knots
5. Luna Rossa Swordfish – 23.59 knots
6. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS – 23.54 knots
7. Luna Rossa Piranha – 23.48 knots
8. Emirates Team New Zealand – 23.17 knots
AC World Series Newport Match Racing Championships – Standings
The top two teams will race in the Final on Sunday
3. Luna Rossa Piranha
4. Artemis Racing
5. Energy Team
6. Emirates Team New Zealand
7. Luna Rossa Swordfish
8. Team Korea
2011-12 AC World Series Overall Championship Leaderboard (after five of six events)
1. ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill…84 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand…80 points
3. Artemis Racing…71 points
4. Energy Team…65 points
5. Team Korea…56 points
6. ORACLE TEAM USA Coutts…53 points
7. Luna Rossa Piranha…34 points
8. China Team…31 points
9. Luna Rossa Swordfish…21 points
More Images by George Bekris HERE
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing launched an 11th hour comeback in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race to take their tally of in-shore successes to three, while Groupama scored a strong second to pile the pressure on overall race leaders Telefónica.
Ian Walker’s crew were rewarded for sailing a near-perfect race on Saturday when they snatched the lead from Groupama on the penultimate leg and went on to seal a dramatic victory.
Although they were pipped at the post, Groupama’s result moves them to within just seven points of Telefónica, who had yet more in-port disappointment when a penalty for touching one of the turning marks relegated them to last place.
In a thrilling finale, PUMA came from behind to rocket past CAMPER into third just metres from the finish line.
It was a fourth successive podium finish in the in-shore series for Ken Read’s PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crew, and it brought them to within a point of third-placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand on the overall scoreboard.
Team Sanya, the only team not racing in a new generation boat, were unlucky not to finish higher up the leaderboard, having to settle for fifth after a brave battle with their rivals.
“It feels great,” said a jubilant Abu Dhabi skipper Walker moments after crossing the finish line.
“We’ve had a tough time of it. We had no time at all to prepare for the last in-port race and we made a special point of having two full days’ training here. We wanted to show the world that Abu Dhabi hasn’t given up. We’re a good team, we’re determined, and it feels great to win a race.”
With the Volvo Ocean Race entering a critical stage with just three offshore legs and three in-port races left, just 14 points split the top four boats.
Telefónica still lead with 165 points but snapping at their heels are Groupama on 158, while CAMPER and PUMA are dangerously close on 152 and 151 respectively, bolstered by the results of the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race.
In a nail-biting contest peppered with position changes, Abu Dhabi capitalised on a strong start along with Sanya but it was Telefónica who led round the first mark, showing off their blistering speed on Leg 1.
The action couldn’t have been any more intense with Abu Dhabi and Groupama overhauling Telefónica on Leg 2. Meanwhile, after paying the price for heading offshore, CAMPER and PUMA were left desperately chasing the frontrunners.
While the front two stretched their lead, a fierce battle for third developed, climaxing on Leg 6 with Telefónica hitting the mark and the rest of the fleet piling in behind.
Telefónica were penalised by the on-the-water umpires, adding to their in-port misery and ending their hopes of consolidating their overall lead.
Sniffing a chance to pick up crucial points, PUMA, CAMPER and Sanya put pedal to metal and launched an extraordinary comeback that brought them back in touch with then leaders Groupama and second-placed Abu Dhabi with just a few legs left.
Abu Dhabi’s defining moment came when they hoisted a bigger sail than their French rivals, making the most of the smallest of speed advantages to pass Groupama despite having to dodge a spectator boat.
With the breeze fading, race officials chose to shorten the course and Abu Dhabi hung on to claim the win, all the more sweet due to the fact that just a few weeks ago their stricken boat Azzam was on a container ship en route to Brazil.
The sailors and shore crews are now turning their sights on the final preparations for 3,580 nautical mile Leg 7 from Miami to Lisbon, Portugal, starting on Sunday at 1700 UTC (1300 local time).
PORTMIAMI In-Port Race results:
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, 74:09
2. Groupama sailing team, +00:33
3. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, +02:02
4. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, +02:11
5. Team Sanya, +2:35
6. Team Telefónica, +6:28
ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL heads into Thursday’s start of the ACWS – Venice looking to extend its overall lead at the penultimate event of the 2011-12 ACWS season.
ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL leads the overall standings by 1 point after placing second last month in Naples. That helped skipper Jimmy Spithill and his four-man crew leap Emirates Team New Zealand into the top spot. Teams have been accumulating points in the two formats since the first regatta last August in Portugal.
Venice figures to be more than just a change of scenery. The 14th century Gothic architecture of the historic city will provide a photogenic backdrop for the speedy AC45 wingsail catamarans, and a tight racecourse will keep crews jumping more than normal on the athletic cats.
“I think it’s going to be a fantastic event from an iconic picture – racing in the canals of Venice is gonna be cool,” said Spithill, who at 30 years of age in 2010 became the youngest skipper to ever win the America’s Cup.
At today’s opening press conference Spithill recognized Italian soccer
star Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon by wearing a jersey of the Italian national
team. Buffon was goalkeeper for Italy when it won the World Cup in 2006 and also stars for Serie A club Juventus F.C. Spithill and Buffon traded jerseys yesterday after Buffon sailed on the canals with ORACLE TEAM USA.
“Gigi is a legend,” Spithill said. “He sailed with us yesterday. It’s great to be able to show athletes from other codes how athletic our sport is. These guys are blown away by what they see.”
ORACLE TEAM USA BUNDOCK holds fifth in the overall standings,
20 points behind Spithill and crew. Skipper Darren Bundock will welcome a new tactician to his crew: Russell Coutts, the team CEO and four-time America’s Cup winner. Coutts steps in for Tom Slingsby, who is taking time to focus on his Laser campaign for the London Olympics.
“Russell is a true legend in the America’s Cup and a great addition to our boat tactically. Russell has been thrown in at the deep end. He’s up front, pulling ropes and seeing how physical he’s made these boats! How often do you get to boss the boss around? Normally he’s used to be being at the back of the boat giving orders. Now he’s at the front coping with them.”
Racing in Venice will be a mixture of fleet and match racing. The final fleet race on Sunday, May 20, will award more points than the first six races – 30 points for first as opposed to 10 points – which should afford many in the fleet an opportunity to shake-up the standings.
“Most of the teams in Naples put in a lot of practice time. We’re seeing a bit of equalization going on where anyone can win a race,” said Team USA Spithill tactician John Kostecki. “It’s becoming tougher to get an advantage and be at the very top. That’s a good evolution and I’m sure we’ll see more of that to come in Venice.”
“I think the racecourse could be really tricky,” Spithill said. “The racing will be inshore, flat water, narrow lanes…the boundary will be the shoreline. That’ll be great for the spectators and I think we’ll see a lot of people.”
ACWS – Venice is the fifth of six stops on the inaugural America’s Cup World Series. The final event is scheduled for Newport, R.I., home to the Cup for 25 years, in late June.
2011-12 America’s Cup World Series Overall Standings
Team (Country) Match – Fleet — Total
1. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL (USA) 30 – 37 — 67
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 30 – 36 — 66
3. Artemis Racing (SWE) 33 – 21 — 54
4. Energy Team (FRA) 25 – 23 — 48
5. ORACLE TEAM USA BUNDOCK (USA) 26 – 21 — 47
5. Team Korea (KOR) 25 – 22 — 47
7. China Team (CHN) 11 – 13 — 24
8. Green Comm Racing (ESP) 11 – 12 — 23
9. Luna Rossa Piranha 9 – 10 — 19
10. Luna Rossa Swordfish 7 – 5 — 12
(After four of six scheduled events)
The America’s Cup World Series has moved north. After the excitement of Naples, the next stop is Venice and this past week has seen the build out of the AC Village and team bases, as well as the first test sailing by one of the teams.
Within a week of the ship containing all of the AC World Series ‘materiel’ arriving in Venice, team bases were sprouting up, the AC Village in the Arsenale was taking shape, the television compound on Lido Island was being erected and the Italian team, Luna Rossa Challenge, had gone for its first sail with both crews.
With just one World Series regatta under its belt in Naples, Luna Rossa is out of contention for the 2011-12 AC World Series title. But that hasn’t made the team any less keen to be at the top of its game performing on home waters. It’s ‘Piranha’ crew, led by Chris Draper, won the Fleet Racing Championship in Naples – a sparkling debut. Now the team is hoping these early practice sessions will pay dividends in Venice.
At the top of the overall leaderboard, ORACLE Racing’s James Sptihill holds the slimmest of leads – one point – over Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand. Artemis Racing, with an impressive Match Racing win in Naples, has closed the gap in third place.
So it’s all to play for when the Championship Racing starts in Venice on May 17, in the penultimate event in the opening circuit. The 2011-12 AC World Series will then conclude in Newport, Rhode Island, home of the Cup from 1930 to 1987, at the end of June. And preparations are already ramping up there. It’s going to be an exciting few weeks in the 34th America’s Cup.
AC World Series crews have the opportunity to compete for €50,000 in prize money in the City of Venice Trophy on May 12-13. The invitational regatta, organized and announced today by the yacht club Venice Compagnia della Vela, marks the opening of a nine-day celebration of the America’s Cup World Series in the historic Italian city.
With €50,000 at stake, the City of Venice Trophy becomes an important prologue to the AC World Series championship. The new, two-day event consists of five, 30-minute fleet races, to be sailed on a course just outside Lido Island.
But the highlight will be Sunday’s long fleet race, which starts outside Lido Island and finishes just off St. Marks Square. The first team to finish at St. Marks Square will receive the City of Venice Trophy presented by Arzanà Navi as well as a cash prize of €30,000. The remaining €20,000 in prize money is distributed to the top three crews from the five 30-minute fleet races.
The results of City of Venice Trophy will not count towards the overall AC World Series rankings, but the generous prize money is sure to stoke competitive fires among the teams.
“This is a great opportunity for us to get in some meaningful racing against the other teams,” said Luna Rossa Challenge skipper Max Sirena. “We were always planning on sailing as early as possible in Venice, and now the City of Venice Trophy represents a great opportunity to participate in an additional very exciting and spectacular race.”
“The debut of the AC45s racing in Venice will certainly be very interesting,” said Mayor Giorgio Orsoni. “To have the teams competing for a trophy that bears the name of the city adds prestige to an already important event. Special thanks for this must go to Arzanà Navi, which has chosen to support us.
“This two-day regatta, with the grand finale a unique point to point race from Lido to St. Marks Square, is a first step towards seeing Compagnia della Vela as a host for high level sailing. This is a beautiful way to begin this nine day event, which we hope will be memorable, both for Venetians and for those who want to discover a new face of Venice – one linked to its traditions and the sea, but also to technology and a lesser known part of the city, the Arsenale, where the catamarans berth after racing for the City of Venice Trophy.”
The weekend of May 12-13 also marks the opening of the public event village for the full nine-day festival, highlighted by the championship races of the America’s Cup World Series Venice.
Championship Racing in the AC World Series Venice runs from May 17-20 and here, every race matters. Venice is the penultimate event in the 2011-12 World Series and James Spithill’s ORACLE Racing crew holds the overall lead by just one point over Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand.
Nine crews from seven countries are competing in the AC World Series in Venice, including: Artemis Racing (Sweden), skipper Terry Hutchinson; China Team (China), skipper Fred Le Peutrec; Emirates Team New Zealand (New Zealand), skipper Dean Barker; Energy Team (France), helmsman Loïck Peyron; Luna Rossa Challenge (Italy), with two boats, helmsmen Chris Draper and Paul Campbell-James; ORACLE Racing (USA) with two boats, skippers James Spithill and Darren Bundock; and Team Korea (Korea) with skipper Nathan Outteridge.
A trough of low pressure blocking the fleet’s path brought light winds on Friday and a tactical split in the trio at the front. Leaders PUMA have stuck doggedly to their north easterly course, while CAMPER and Telefónica gybed to the west in search of stronger winds closer to the Caribbean Islands.
By 1200 UTC today Team Telefónica had resumed a northerly track, putting pressure on CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, who must decide to follow suit or press on with a higher risk westerly strategy.
With up to 30 hours of slow sailing likely before the leaders break through into steadier winds, the pressure is well and truly on for the skippers and navigators on the top three boats.
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG navigator Tom Addis said leading into such a scenario was always tricky as it raised the threat of being caught by the boats behind, but was nevertheless confident in the short term strategy.
“A front has come through to the north and disturbed the trade winds so we’ve all compressed again,” Addis said. “It is unfortunate for us but it’s just how it goes.
“It’s hard to say when the breeze will pick up again. We’ve still got about 10 knots of breeze but it’s going to be a good day and a half before we’re into decent breeze again.
“When the wind goes light and you compress, especially for a good solid day, anything can happen. If someone gets a squall and picks up some wind for a few hours that could easily turn the fleet inside out.
“That makes things more tense on board, no question.”
Addis said PUMA’s current plan was to skirt around the eastern side of the Caribbean to avoid the additional threat of wind shadows in the lee of the island chain.
“The next 1,000 miles is going to be pretty light and tricky and it’s going to be ‘heart in the mouth’ stuff for the majority of the rest of the leg,” he said.
“We think we’ve got a solid plan and most likely we’ll go round the outside of the Caribbean islands,” he said. “Through the Caribbean there’s plenty of water but it’s fraught with lees.
“Those islands are very tall and they create big wind shadows so you’ve got to be very careful going through them.”
On second placed CAMPER, Media Crew Member Hamish Hooper said the mood was equally tense with skipper Chris Nicholson and navigator Will Oxley spending long hours together at the navigation station, deliberating on the best plan.
“It is certain to be a nerve-wracking few days for sure,” Hooper said.
“It has been said from the start that this last 1,000 miles will be where the leg is won and lost, and it’s looking about as tricky as tricky can be, with light fickle breezes throughout.
“It’s a maze. One boat will come out looking famous and it could be one of any of the five boats in the fleet.
“Abu Dhabi and Groupama who are still 100 miles behind are still right in this leg and in fact they are in the sometimes enviable position of having nothing to lose, so able to throw caution to the wind and take a gamble.”
Telefónica navigator Andrew Cape described the final push to the finish as “a bit touch and go”.
“There’s going to be a lot of changes, put it that way,” Cape added. “It’s going to be a tricky one. There’s going to be opportunities both ways but certainly the team that gets it right will be the winner.”
Cape said he was happy with the Spanish team’s positioning at this point but said there would be plenty of other key decisions to agonise over before the finish.
“We’re where we wanted to be, but this is the very first stage of about 25 that we need to get right,” he said.
At 1300 UTC PUMA still led the fleet, from CAMPER in second, Team Telefónica in third, Groupama sailing team in fourth and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in fifth.
Latest estimates show the leading boats arriving in Miami on or around midday on May 9.
The UK round of the award-winning Extreme Sailing Series™ now in its sixth year will be staged in Cardiff the capital of Wales between the 24-27 August, 2012. In a three-year deal, Cardiff won the bid to host the UK event of this global sailing circuit that is only one of four events with ISAF (International Sailing Federation) Special Event status, positioning the city alongside the other seven premium international sporting venues hosting an Extreme Sailing Series Act in 2012. The host venue agreement with Cardiff City is backed by a Welsh Government grant for 2012-2014.
The Extreme 40 catamarans, raced by many of the world’s best sailors, will race on Cardiff Bay over four days with the event open to the public between the 25-27 August as the Extreme 40 fleet race in the circuit’s action packed ‘stadium’ format.
Executive chairman of the organising company behind the series, Mark Turner of OC ThirdPole, said: “The circuit continues to represent perfectly the developments in the world at large, with its balance of east and west, different cultures and languages and variety of conditions.
“Year on year the commercial value to the host cities of securing this event for the host venues has steadily increased, and this is reflected in 2012 developments. A pro-active and innovative host venue is critical to the success of the event, and we are very excited in this respect by the partnership with Cardiff and the Welsh Government.”
Cardiff Council’s Executive Member for Sport, Culture and Leisure Cllr, Nigel Howells commented: “It’s great news that Cardiff has secured the Extreme Sailing series for the next three years, as a council we will do all that we can to support the event.
“Cardiff has proved time and time again that it can play host to a variety of world class sporting events. From top class football and rugby to newer events like Extreme Sailing. Since the opening of Cardiff International White Water (CIWW) in 2010 more and more watersport events are coming to Cardiff, which is helping to attract a new audience to Cardiff and Wales.”
The 2012 Extreme Sailing Series will be staged at 8 different international venues across three continents, attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators. Alongside other significant media exposure, once again a dedicated TV series will be produced and broadcast on up to 40 channels around the world, including CNBC, Bloomberg, Channel 4 (UK), Sky (UK), Al Jazeera, Fox (Latin America, Australia Middle East), ESPN, Sport+ (France), RAI (Italy).
As we enter the final countdown to the first Act in Oman, the 2012 team line-up will be revealed this coming weekend at the Dusseldorf Boat Show.
2012 Calendar & Host Venues:
Act 1 : Muscat, Oman 28th February-2nd March
Act 2 : Qingdao, China 17th-20th April*
Act 3 : Istanbul, Turkey 7th-10th June
Act 4 : Porto, Portugal 5th-8th July
Act 5: Cardiff, UK 24th-27th August
Act 6 : Trapani, Italy 13th-16th September
Act 7 : Nice, France 18th-21st October
Act 8 : Brazil 29th November-2nd December
Due to official Chinese naval activities in the port of Qingdao, Act 2 will now be staged between 17th-20th April instead of the 19th-22nd April as previously communicated
There was a good breeze for this second part of the second leg, between Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, which formed a 98-mile coastal course raced under the influence of the Shamal desert wind. After a prudent start, Groupama 4 was really firing on all cylinders during the two long reaches and ultimately overtook the Spanish leaders thanks to a final solid sprint under spinnaker…
There were rough, short seas for today’s race start at 0530 UTC off the Arab Emirate of Sharjah: around twenty knots of westerly wind with three metre waves and a beat to hunt down the first mark positioned some 18 miles ahead. The New Zealanders on Camper and the Americans on Puma got off to the best start at the end of the line, whilst the Spaniards on Telefonica and the French on Groupama 4 quickly put in a tack to reposition themselves a few hundred metres to weather of the fleet. A long port tack lay ahead as it took over an hour and a quarter for Telefonica, then Groupama 4, to put in their first tack change. The two VO-70s were slightly below the mark and had to make two additional manoeuvres to get around it. The same was true for Puma and Abu Dhabi…
A long leg with eased sheets
The Spanish led around the first mark, boasting a very slight edge over the New Zealanders, whilst the Americans managed to slip under Groupama 4′s bow and Abu Dhabi brought up the rear. The deficits between the five boats were extremely minimal at that point as they prepared for another very long upwind sprint with sheets slightly eased to hunt down mark 2, moored around fifty miles further down the racetrack to the West-South-West.
Three hours later, Franck Cammas and his men were right on Telefonica’s stern as the latter led the fleet around the second course mark: the two sisterships were unquestionably the most at ease in these sailing conditions (17-22 knots of breeze at 70°) since the New Zealanders were relegated to 1.1 miles astern, the Americans 1.3 miles astern and the Emirati boat 2.8 miles shy of the leaders! There were still 23 miles to go and the fleet were continuing to sail with eased sheets as they homed in on mark number 3 offshore of Abu Dhabi, before bearing away sharply for a final twelve mile sprint, on a broad reach to the finish line.
1hr20 later, the Spanish on Telefonica were first around the final course mark of this 98-mile course, though Groupama 4 was closing fast, less than a hundred metres astern of her, whilst the other three VO-70s had dropped back. As such there was just one fast reach under spinnaker to the finish of this drag race, where the two Juan Kouyoumdjian designs were able to show just what they were made of in the breezy conditions which continued to punch into them providing 20 knots or so of wind.
Overtaking under spinnaker
Just after the manoeuvre to hoist the spinnaker, Franck Cammas and his crew screamed into the lead and held onto it to the finish off the port of Abu Dhabi. The final sprint proved to be extremely close since Groupama 4 crossed the finish line just 52 seconds ahead of Telefonica after a little less than seven hours of racing! This victory for the French boat doesn’t alter the hierarchy in the overall standing but it does demonstrate that the French team can make the right choices when it counts, and above all that the crew has made considerable progress in this format of short races and is capable of linking together manoeuvres smoothly. The shore crew now have eight days to prepare the boat in preparation for the next “In-Port” race off Abu Dhabi, on 13 January, then another short leg before once again being loaded onto the cargo and shipped to the secret port in the Indian Ocean…
Quotes from the Boat…
Franck Cammas at the finish in Abu Dhabi
“Telefonica defended itself very well as we were a touch quicker and they gave their all to prevent us getting past them. We had one last chance because we managed to position ourselves to windward of them and thanks to a gust we were able to overtake. They are a very good crew with a very good boat and we’re very happy to have been able to get past them. It has to be said that the conditions were perfect for Groupama, which is particularly fond of reaching in breezy conditions. It was nice to get a bit of revenge after the first part of this second leg, because we were in a winning position at one point and were very frustrated not to pull it off. This morning we were still a bit concerned about finding our bearings, but I think we were so fast that the anxiety didn’t even have time to surface. It’s a fantastic day for the whole of Groupama sailing team, and it’s been a real confidence boost. It may not have given us many points, but this victory is important for the next stage…”
“It was a fine battle, all the way to the finish. On a personal level, this is what the Volvo Ocean Race is all about for me: never give up on anything! We enjoyed a very fine match race in some fantastic sailing conditions… Even though it was very wet on deck! We were with Camper at the start and Laurent (Pagès) viewed the race zone brilliantly. Thanks to our speed, we were gradually able to make up ground on Telefonica. We were spoilt by the warm wind and the sunshine and the sea was rough and vigorous but okay.”
“The course was pretty simple in terms of navigation: it was only the first part which required some tacks. We didn’t go off on any fliers and remained with the fleet as the aim was to stay in contact for the big sprint with eased sheets where we knew we were pretty quick. The success of this leg is the result of the work carried out by all the technical team: we have a research department, guided by Franck (Cammas), which analyses the different parameters. It’s a good feeling to rack up this victory! Indeed, though the boat is quick, it’s also down to the crew which was superb today…”
Standing for the second part of the second leg (Sharjah to Abu Dhabi: 98 miles)
1-Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas) at 12h 22′ 09 UTC
2-Telefonica (Iker Martinez) at 12h 23′ 01UTC
3-Camper (Chris Nicholson) at 12h 27′ 48 UTC
4-Puma (Ken Read) at 12h 28′ 38 UTC
5-Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker) at 12h 32′ 21 UTC
DNS-Sanya (Mike Sanderson)
Overall standing after the second leg
1-Telefonica (Iker Martinez) 66 points = 1+30+6+24+5
2-Camper (Chris Nicholson) 58 points = 4+25+5+20+4
3-Groupama 4 (Franck Cammas) 42 points = 2+20+2+12+6
4-Puma (Ken Read) 28 points = 5+0+4+16+3
5-Abu Dhabi (Ian Walker) 19 points = 6+0+3+8+2
6-Sanya (Mike Sanderson) 4 points: 3+0+1+suspended racing
On this first day of winter in Europe, Franck Cammas is celebrating his first birthday (39th) racing at sea. As such Groupama 4′s pole position can only come as a source of satisfaction to the youngest skipper in this Volvo Ocean Race! Indeed the French boat will enter into the Indian version of the Doldrums this Friday with a lead of nearly 80 miles.
Though winter is proving to be mild in Europe, summer in the southern hemisphere is both very hot and very wet: indeed Groupama 4 is nearly at 11° South and is gradually leaving the high pressure of the Mascareignes High behind her to confront the random mood swings of the Doldrums. Indeed this Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) doesn’t appear to be very easy to apprehend, even though in theory it is supposed to be less ‘twisted’ than in the Atlantic.
“I’m preparing a chocolate cake for Franck’s birthday” announced Yann Riou, Groupama 4′s media man, during the lunch time radio link-up this Thursday. “Together with my pressure cooker and a few eggs, which I’ve managed to keep cool, I’m going to make a change to the usual routine and already the aromas are more reminiscent of a patisserie and have replaced the rather vivid odours resulting from the ambient humidity. Indeed the skies are becoming overcast and decidedly grey even. It is very hot as we’re closing on the Doldrums, which we’re set to reach this evening…”
Happy birthday Franck!
This Friday afternoon Groupama 4 has also been the first to enter the ‘stealth’ zone, an area marked out on the map by the Volvo Ocean Race organisers to combat the risk of piracy. Positioned between the Arabic peninsula, the southern tip of India and the North of the island of Madagascar, this vast expanse will no longer enable us to track the progress of the six boats as far as the finish, but the distances between the competitors will still be broadcast to the public. This ‘stealth’ zone, which begins at 12° South, is also close to the Doldrums, which appear to start at around 9° South.
“Thanks for wishing me happy birthday! Usually I’m on land at this time of year… However, the current preoccupation is more geared around the Doldrums: it’s always a fairly hazardous zone and it’s hard to find the best way through. We’re happy with our positioning for tackling it as we can still control the fleet behind us. We already know that our pursuers will make up some ground on us over the coming hours since we’ll be the first to be slowed… We’re the pacesetter and everyone will be watching where we go to get an idea of the ambience. However, it remains an enviable position: we have a lead of 80 miles with a finish lining up after around 1,000 miles. The coming days will be more complicated than in recent hours though and we could lose a lot of ground” indicated Franck Cammas at noon this Thursday.
Two hundred difficult miles
Franck Cammas has opted to traverse the ITCZ at 67° East for several reasons: first of all because an opening appears to be taking shape along this axis as a depression isobar (1008 hPa) is bending round between Sri Lanka and the Diego Garcia atoll. The south-easterly wind of around fifteen knots on Thursday morning, will ease to just ten knots or so as it gradually clocks round to the South, then the South-West at around five knots at noon on Friday. Furthermore, by remaining further to the West, Groupama 4 is giving herself the opportunity to dip back down to the North-East, ahead of her rivals, should the opportunity present itself. It’s easier to luff up in the light airs and accelerate rather than bearing away under spinnaker as you slow… Finally, the third element to take into account is the rotation of the wind to the West at 7° South, followed by a gradual shift round to the North-West and then the North on approaching the equator. By positioning herself further to the West, Groupama 4 won’t have to put in any tacks to complete this first part of the race.
“It’s said that the Indian Doldrums are different to those of the Atlantic but when I asked this same question to those who traversed this zone three years ago, they told me that they’d been stuck fast for three days… It doesn’t have the same shape as it’s more cross-shaped with a fairly thick North-South axis, quite a way off, and an East-West branch which we’re going to traverse. The exit is due North in any case! As a result we’ll have to gain miles in all the squalls so as to stand a chance of being the first to exit the zone and latch onto the westerly wind near the equator.”
What of the wave?
Ian Walker, the skipper of Abu Dhabi announced that the formation of a tropical wave could reshuffle the cards as they pass through the Doldrums. In line with this, the Spanish on Telefonica and the New Zealanders on Camper have curved their route inwards over recent hours, which would suggest that they’re keen to attack the ITCZ at 72° East. Indeed it would appear that another way through is opening up at 75° East, but this involves extending the trajectory with a more easterly exit from the Doldrums and hence a final beat to round off the leg.
“A tropical wave is a weather phenomenon, a kind of atmospheric trough, which traverses the tradewinds in the direction of the Doldrums: this generates stronger activity with southerly wind. This in turn breaks the ITCZ and enables connections between two breeze systems, and hence opens up ways through. There doesn’t appear to be a very pronounced tropical wave at the moment, but there are some small elements on the files…”
“We going to pass through some fabulous areas with some very remote islands: there are flying fish at the moment, but not too much activity in the water and in the air. Added to that we’re going to have even less movement over the coming days! Aboard the boat it’s very hot and at times we’re envious of you back in Europe… However, it’s also a quiet atmosphere: it’s a good thing for Jean-Luc (Nélias, navigator) and I that our option paid off after the failure in the first leg. It’s always good to have confidence in oneself and in one’s crew… Furthermore, we won’t be cut off from the world in this stealth zone as we’ll still receive all the data from the organisation.”
After eleven days at sea and lots of turnabouts since the start in Cape Town, the arrival in the secret port is scheduled for Monday, the day after Christmas… The question is, will there be another present for Franck and his crew at the end of it?
Position of the competitors in the Volvo Ocean Race in the second leg from Cape Town – Abu Dhabi at 1600 UTC on 22/12/2011
1. Groupama 4
2. Puma – 65,4 miles astern of the leader
3. Telefonica – 82,9 miles astern of the leader
4. Camper – 124,6 miles astern of the leader
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 210,2 miles astern of the leader
Team Sanya – suspended racing