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PD Staff
04-08-2013, 09:33 AM
Lorient completes daunting route for Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15

12th edition of sailing’s premier round-the-world race to begin October 4, 2014 in Alicante, Spain


Alicante, Spain – 8 April 2013 – The French city of Lorient will return as the penultimate stopover in the Volvo Ocean Race for the 12th edition in 2014-15, completing a route that will test the world's best professional sailors to the limit in a race around the world lasting almost nine months and 40,000 nautical miles.

The Race will start on October 4, 2014, day of the first In-Port Race in Alicante, and finish with a final In-Port Race on June 27, 2015 in Gothenburg, the Swedish home of Volvo. The total course distance will be 39,895 nautical miles – the equivalent to 45,910 miles or 73,886 kilometres – and will see the sailors tackle an extra Southern Ocean leg between Recife in Brazil and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in their brand new Volvo Ocean 65 boats.

Race CEO Knut Frostad said: “We have a route which we are sure will appeal to every serious offshore sailor, full of super-fast, challenging conditions. The Southern Ocean leg from Recife to Abu Dhabi is the most diverse ever presented in the Race and will contribute to what could turn out to be the toughest Race in our 40-year history.”

Lorient will be the penultimate Host Port along the route and will come immediately after Lisbon, as it did in the last edition, and before the grand finale, which this time will be in Gothenburg.

The full route will see the teams sail their One Design boats from the Race's home in Alicante, Spain to Recife on the north east tip of Brazil over 3,421 nm. From there, the teams will sail the longest leg of the race, making their first dive into the Southern Ocean on their way to Abu Dhabi (9,707 nautical miles) before heading to Sanya in China (4,670 nm).

As in the last race, the boats will sail from Sanya to Auckland, New Zealand (5,264 nm). From the City of Sails they will leave for Itajaí in Brazil (6,776 nm) before going north to Newport, Rhode Island in the United States (5,010 nm). The teams will then cross the Atlantic to Lisbon (2,800 nm) and stop in Lorient (647 nm) before the final run to the finish around the British Isles to Gothenburg (1,600 nm).

Lorient, the Breton city on the west coast of France, hosted the Race for the first time in 2011-12 and provided an incredible spectacle for fans. French team Groupama sailed into Lorient as winners of the penultimate leg from Lisbon and had another emotional success in the In-Port Race. The team skippered by Franck Cammas went on to seal their debut victory in the Volvo Ocean Race at the finish line in Galway.

"Lorient is France's sailing capital and the response we had during the last Race was phenomenal," said Race CEO Frostad. "It will be a real pleasure to come back to this stunning part of the world, where the people are so knowledgeable about the sport and the whole set-up suits the Race so perfectly. Lorient will be a real highlight on the route."

Frostad described the route as "an immense challenge" for sailors.

"The leg from Recife to Abu Dhabi will be one of the most interesting, diverse and difficult ever sailed in this Race," Frostad said. "There then follows an incredibly challenging section of the race on the way around Cape Horn before a long overdue visit to Newport and a trip back across the Atlantic to a fantastic three-stop European finish.

"From brand new ports like Recife to now familiar stops such as Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Itajaí, Lisbon and Lorient, and classic sailing cities such as Auckland and Newport, this route gives just about the perfect mix of old and new. Add to that the start in Alicante and a mid-summer finish in Gothenburg, my only regret is that I'm not sailing the route myself."


2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race details in full:

In-Port Race: October 4, 2014
Leg Start: October 11, 2014
Leg Distance to Recife: 3,421 nm

In-Port Race: November 8, 2014
Leg Start: November 9, 2014
Leg Distance to Abu Dhabi: 9,707 nm

Abu Dhabi:
In-Port Race: January 2, 2015
Leg Start: January 3, 2015
Leg Distance to Sanya: 4,670 nm

In-Port Race: February 7, 2015
Leg Start: February 8, 2015
Leg Distance to Auckland: 5,264 nm

In-Port Race: March 14, 2015
Leg Start: March 15, 2015
Leg Distance to Itajaí: 6,776 nm

In-Port Race: April 18, 2015
Leg Start: April 19, 2015
Leg Distance to Newport: 5,010 nm

In-Port Race: May 16, 2015
Leg Start: May 17, 2015
Leg Distance to Lisbon: 2,800 nm

In-Port Race: June 6, 2015
Leg Start: June 7, 2015
Leg Distance to Lorient: 647 nm

In-Port Race: to be decided
Leg Start: to be decided
Leg Distance to Gothenburg: 1,600 nm

In-Port Race: June 27, 2015
Total Race Distance: 39,895 nautical miles

05-13-2013, 09:33 AM

MainSail travels to Lanzerote to train with a round-the-world race crew as they prepare for the Volvo Ocean Race.


Part 1 (http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/sports/2013/05/09/mainsail-lanzerote-female-racing-a.cnn)

Part 2 (http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/sports/2013/05/09/mainsail-lanzerote-female-racing-b.cnn)

Part 3 (http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/sports/2013/05/09/mainsail-lanzerote-female-racing-c.cnn)

PD Staff
05-23-2013, 09:28 AM

North Sails 3DI loft in Minden Nevada

PD Staff
07-17-2013, 12:21 PM

An exclusive sneak peak at the world's most ambitious one-design racing boat -
a combination of cutting edge design, extreme precision, and devastating speed.

The new Volvo Ocean 65 class will be used in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.


Uploaded on Jul 16, 2013
This episode we give you an exclusive tour of the Volvo Ocean 65's deck and the new features that will make it the safest Volvo boat yet.

Rick also looks at the engine at the boat's heart, the new innovations in the inclining canting keel and we catch up with the sails being finished in France.

PD Staff
09-24-2013, 09:18 AM
Yes, a 50-degree heeling angle applied to the first Volvo Ocean 65 to hit the water is certainly extreme… but it’s only for the purpose of a required structural test taking place this Tuesday in Southern England.

Rick Deppe/Volvo Ocean Race

Extreme weather and tight competition await the Volvo Ocean 65, the new one-design yacht to contest the next two editions of the race.

After hitting the water on Monday at Williams Yard in Southampton, the structure and systems onboard went through a series of checks. The most impressive was the pull down test when the boat was heeled to 50 degrees and passed with flying colours.

“This is a significant test of boat structure particularly the keel bulkheads and support structure,” said the Class Manager James Dadd, “It’s also a good test of the canting mechanism since much higher loads apply than when sailing because we are using one ram at a time rather than the normal two.”

Tuesday’s delights also included a structural integrity bend test to check how much deflection is in the hull, an engine test and a cooling, oil and fuel system test. The consortium’s boatyards have also been checking for leaks and other underwater problems.

The Volvo Ocean 65 will go for a slow motoring sail this Wednesday in the Solent before a test sail scheduled for Thursday. The magenta racing machine will be handed-over to the all-female crew Team SCA at the end of the week.


Rick Deppe/Volvo Ocean Race


Rick Tomlinson/Team SCA


10-30-2013, 12:48 PM

A team from China, backed by Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle and run by leading sailing management
company OC Sport, has announced it will compete in the next edition of the race.

Team Dongfeng is the third entry so far to announce its participation in the 12th edition of the race in 2014-15. Team Director Bruno Dubois announced the launch of the new campaign in the Hubei province city of Wuhan on Wednesday.


The team will represent China and will have the interests of Chinese sailing at its core with a significant number of Chinese in the final race crew as well as its support team.

Huang Gang, General Manager of Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle Company, said: "Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle has become an important partner for the Volvo Ocean Race, which is an internationally renowned sailing event. This is also a key step in DFCV's global marketing strategy."

OC Sport, which will run all aspects of the campaign, is one of the most respected companies in the sport of sailing and responsible for the successful Extreme Sailing Series as well as numerous race campaigns over the past 15 years - including those of record-breaking British female sailor, Dame Ellen MacArthur.

It is, however, the first time that OC Sport and its Executive Chairman, Mark Turner, has been involved in running a Volvo Ocean Race campaign and so fulfils a long-standing ambition for him, and for Team Director Bruno Dubois, who both competed in the 1989-90 race.

“We are aiming for a successful race entry with a Chinese team, not just a successful entry – this is an absolute at the heart of this very exciting and challenging project,” said Turner.

Team Dongfeng follow Team Sanya (2011-12) and Green Dragon (2008-09) as the third Chinese entry in the race’s 40-year history, the latter a joint-entry with Ireland.

Two Chinese sailors have previously participated in the Volvo Ocean Race – media crew member Guo Chuan in 2008-09 on Green Dragon and “Tiger” Teng Jianghe in 2011-12 on Team Sanya, predating China’s sailing success in the London 2012 Olympics with Xu Lijia winning gold in the women’s laser radial.

But this project, and the planned establishment of an academy, has the potential to provide a major boost to the development of professional, and indeed all types, of sailing in China.

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad said on Wednesday that he expected Team Dongfeng to be a real contender. “I know there is a Chinese proverb saying: ‘Everything is ready and all that we need is an east wind’. Now we have the support from DFCV and Dongfeng means “east wind” in Mandarin.

“Team Dongfeng will be sailing in our new One-Design Volvo Ocean 65 like the rest of the fleet which means they will have exactly the same boat and competitive opportunities as anyone in the race, and they will be one of the first teams on the water,” he told reporters.

Seven Volvo Ocean 65 boats are currently being constructed in readiness for the next race.

“The team will include a significant number of Chinese sailors and the search begins now to find the best in the country,” added Frostad. “They are sure to be the subject of huge media interest in China as Guo and Tiger were before them.”

Team Director Bruno Dubois highlighted the initial focus of the campaign. “Our priority is the recruitment and training of the Chinese sailors. This is very clearly the biggest challenge we have – to condense many years of experience of the average Volvo Ocean Race crew into just 10 months.

“But equally this process is at the heart of the project; we want to leave a real legacy that will both motivate the Chinese to want to embrace the sport of sailing, and be able to develop the talent so that, ultimately, a future campaign could be 100% Chinese.”

It had already been revealed earlier this year that the next race would again feature a stopover in China in the port of Sanya. The city in the Hainan Island province successfully hosted the event in 2011-2012, following Qingdao who became the first Chinese hosts in the previous edition of 2008-09.


Buzz Light Beer
10-31-2013, 01:09 PM
I know there is sponsorship money in Abu Dhabi, but if they have to go stealth and put the damn boats on
ships to get around pirates, don't they waste most of that money with the silly transport dealio?

Capetown to Sanya could be interesting, but that shipping the boats thing is just dumb.

PD Staff
12-03-2013, 10:11 AM

Amsterdam – December 3, 2013 - Dutch sailor Bouwe Bekking will return for a record-equalling seventh bid for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15, the world’s leading crewed offshore race, as skipper of a new campaign launched by Brunel on Tuesday in Amsterdam.

For both sailor and sponsor, it is a case of “unfinished business”. Bekking, 50, has competed in the event twice as skipper without winning and Team Brunel will be having their third crack at ocean sailing’s most prestigious crown on the new one-design Volvo Ocean 65.

Team Brunel is the fourth campaign to announce its participation in the 12th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race which starts with the Alicante in-port race on October 4, 2014 before setting off for the near nine-month, 39,379-nautical mile marathon a week later.

For Bekking, this latest challenge from one of the world’s leading nautical nations is a chance to put the record straight having twice finished runner-up in an event that is part of Dutch sailing heritage having had three winners over the event’s 40 years.

He will match the achievement of Swede Roger Nilson as the only man to have competed seven times in the race, nearly 30 years after his first attempt in 1985-86.

“A Dutch-speaking team in the Volvo Ocean Race again – we owe this to our heritage and the future sailing generations to come. But above all it’s the best sailing in the world,” said a delighted Bekking who takes the helm on a Dutch boat with a real chance of adding to the country’s success story.

“Our nation is known around the world as the country of windmills, dykes, tulips, cheese, wooden clogs – and the Volvo Ocean Race. The race is just in our blood.”

Referring to his partnership with Brunel, the global project management, recruitment and consultancy company, Bekking added: “It is a great opportunity to reinforce to the world what Brunel stands for: diverse, international and dynamic. The Volvo Ocean Race is the perfect vehicle to showcase this message.”

Brunel CEO Jan Arie van Barneveld stated: “We are really happy that Brunel has again its own team and own sailing machine in the most exiting and prestigious sailing regatta in the world.”

“The formula of the race has been improved significantly: the boats are identical so it’s the teams that make the difference. It is about the quality and cooperation between the people. That is Brunel! We go for the people, the sport and the victory,” he added.

The team joins all-female campaign Team SCA, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and the Chinese challenge Team Dongfeng in the 2014-15 line-up announced so far.

The Dutch have a glorious heritage in the race, starting when it was known as the Whitbread Round the World Race in the 1977-78 edition which was won by the legendary skipper Conny van Rietschoten on board Flyer. He triumphed again in 1981-82 and remains the only skipper to have won the Volvo Ocean Race twice.

Brunel made its debut in the 1997-98 race as BrunelSunergy and the company returned in 2005-06 in a race that was won by rival Dutch challenger, ABN AMRO ONE.

Three-time race veteran and Chairman of Sailing Holland, Gideon Messink, is delighted to see all the hard preparation work putting together the latest Dutch challenge paying off.

“Our goal is to enter a professional winning team in the Volvo Ocean Race. The Volvo Ocean 65 high-tech, one-design boat is a great improvement. It’s now all about sport and teamwork.

“We are very happy that we found the golden team to do this with miles and miles of experience in every aspect. We have one of the best sailors and skippers in the world in Bouwe Bekking and twice-Volvo Ocean Race participant and great team player Gerd-Jan Poortman already named in our crew.

“Brunel is an ambitious sponsor with its roots in sailing sports. Our organisation is based on expertise and experience in sailing, both business-wise and on the water. Last but certainly not least, we have the support of the Dutch people.”

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad added: “This announcement is great news all round. Brunel is a sponsor coming back to the race for the third time and feels like part of the Volvo Ocean Race family. They are here to win. They’re a fantastic sponsor.

“Bouwe is a great sailor and totally experienced skipper. He’s come close to winning many times – I’m sure he has some unfinished business with the event. This will be a real Dutch team and will create a real buzz in a country that knows the race so well. They will start training very soon – it’s all coming together.”

The campaign’s secondary sponsors will be Moduleo®, a division of the IVC Group which is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of vinyl floor coverings.



PD Staff
12-03-2013, 10:34 AM

Team Dongfeng’s Volvo Ocean 65 hit the water for the first time on Monday afternoon in southern England. It was a key moment for the Chinese entry in the next edition of the race – and another step towards the red boat’s first sail.


After a short barge trip from the Green Marine boatyard where it had been assembled, the Chinese team’s brand new one-design arrived at Williams Shipping in Southampton. The 12,500kg boat was then hoisted by crane into the water.

Team Dongfeng will be based there for the next two weeks for commissioning and sea trials.

“This is new territory for us,” said Charles Darbyshire from OC Sport, the management company running the team.

“We are used to doing our boats ourselves and this is more like buying a car. We bought it and picked it up a few weeks later.”

Backed by Dongfeng Commercial Vehicle, Team Dongfeng announced their participation in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 on October 30.

They are now recruiting both international and Chinese sailors while getting their new boat ready for the round the world challenge – starting with structural and pull-down tests on Tuesday and sailing sessions in the following days.


all images © Rick Deppe / Volvo Ocean Race

"We've been with this boat since the beginning; we were with it when it was still resin and rolls of cloth,” said Volvo Ocean Race reporter Rick Deppe, who followed the Volvo Ocean 65’s building process for our Building the Future video series.

“We chased it across Europe and we've run time lapses over every stage of the build. To see it here today in the water makes us really proud to have been involved.

"We've met some amazing people and learnt a great deal. I cannot wait to go for a sail."


01-08-2014, 09:53 AM

CA has today confirmed that Sally Barkow (USA) and Justine Mettraux (SUI) will be joining the all-female team for the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race.

Both sailors come with a strong pedigree and join a growing squad of international sailing champions. Team SCA crew to date includes Carolijn Brouwer (NED); Sam Davies, Abby Ehler, and Annie Lush (GBR), and Liz Wardley, Sophie Ciszek and Stacey Jackson (AUS).

From hundreds of applications some 35 women have been invited to take part in month-long trials at the team’s base in Lanzarote, Spain. Each candidate has to go through a rigorous training and physical programme as well as sailing onboard the team’s Volvo Ocean 65.

“Finding people with the right mix of physical strength, sailing skills and personality is no easy task - even in a traditional all-male team,” comments Team SCA coach Joca Signorini, himself veteran of three Volvo Ocean Races. “It is really important that we take our time to secure the best possible squad of women to take on this race. I have been incredibly impressed so far and am very happy with how the team is shaping up.”


Sally Barkow (33) has been on and off the Olympic circuit for the past 10 years and competed for the US team in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. A skilled match racer, she has been with Team SCA for the past few months.

“This is definitely really exciting. I feel that SCA is providing an incredible opportunity here to compete on an equal level with the other teams in this race. There are only nine months left to the start, so we are really now on the home straight and have everything to train and play for,” comments Barkow.


Justine Mettraux (27) joins the team fresh from competing in the Mini Transat, where she finished in second place, a position that secured the best performance by a woman in a Mini Transat series boat in the event. (The Mini Transat is a solo transatlantic yacht race on small 6.5m boats that starts in France and ends in the Caribbean.)

She has been part of the Mini circuit in Switzerland and since 2012 has been regularly appearing on podiums. She was also part of the successful Team SCA squad for the Fastnet Race, coming in at the last minute to replace an injured colleague.

“For me this is a great opportunity, and I couldn’t wait to get back to Lanzarote and join the Team SCA training program. I hope that my Mini Transat experience will stand me in good stead and it is great to be sailing with such a strong team of women,” comments Mettraux.

Team SCA is now back training in Lanzarote after Christmas and New Year break. The team will continue its two-boat testing program as this has been very successful to date and allows the coaches to further develop the training programs.

There are number of longer offshore races planned for the first half of the year before the team moves base to Alicante in preparation for the start of the Volvo Ocean Race in October.

Angry Dolphin
01-08-2014, 05:16 PM
Not sure how match racing sets you up for the Volvo, but that Justine seems to have the skills!

01-30-2014, 10:13 AM

Seven-year Volvo Ocean Race dream comes true for Team Alvimedica crew

Istanbul, Turkey – Seven years ago, a couple of young American sailing addicts met on the set of a Disney movie and dreamed of the day that they would launch a campaign in the world’s toughest offshore team test, the Volvo Ocean Race.

Today that apparently long-shot ambition became a reality when Team Alvimedica’s challenge for the 2014-15 edition was announced in Istanbul, home of the company.

Mark Towill was just 18 when he met Charlie Enright, four years older, as a fellow young star in the Disney sailing movie, Morning Light. The reality film followed a cross-Pacific boat voyage and made use of some of the biggest names in offshore sailing.

Enright, now 29, picks up the story: “We met during the trials for that – we both considered that project to be the beginning of our dream, which is the Volvo Ocean Race.

“We’ve had a lot of Volvo veterans as our coaches on the Morning Light shoot – Stan Honey, Mike Sanderson, Jerry Kirby – and they set up the foundations for us in terms of high-level ocean racing.”

“That vision has been quite clear for a while and has served as motivation for all that we’ve been doing,” added Towill, who together with Enright set up their own company, All-American Ocean Racing out of Newport, Rhode Island where the Race will be stopping in May, 2015.

“It’s not been easy by any means despite the great start we had with the Disney movie. We’ve spent long hours treading the sidewalks trying to get a break and it’s been all about making our own opportunities. We’ve also had a lot of help from many, many people making this become a reality.”

Slowly their dream began to take concrete shape and in 2011, Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad invited the pair to Alicante for the start of the 11th edition in October that year.

After dropping most other commitments in the search for a title sponsor, Enright and Towill found an ambitious, young company – Alvimedica – to take their project from a dream to the start line of the Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante on October 4, 2014.

Alvimedica, a medical devices company from Turkey, is the perfect match for a team that aims to have a crew predominantly drawn from a pool of sailors under 30.

Its accent on being agile, innovative and not afraid to take bold business calls like taking on the huge U.S. market has helped it become one of Turkey’s fastest growing young companies and now management want to broaden its horizons by conquering new territories abroad topped by the United States.

The Volvo Ocean Race and the young American crew are the perfect vehicles to do just that.



Enright, who will be skipper, and Towill are the only crew confirmed for Team Alvimedica so far and the next step will be trials for as many of the best young offshore sailors as they can find.

“The plan is that we’ll look at people in the States first but expand that to take in young sailors from around the world too, including Turkey and Italy,” said Mark.

Frostad was delighted to welcome both team and title sponsor as the Race’s fifth confirmed team for the 12th edition.

“This is one of the most exciting new teams I've seen since I’ve started this job,” he said. “Team Alvimedica is everything I have dreamed of since 2008 when I joined the race management: young people taking the initiative to start a project.

“We also welcome a new sponsor coming from Turkey. There has been a lot of interest from Turkey in the last race and it’s a country where sailing is growing. This is a medical technology company focused on the heart. I reckon the Volvo Ocean Race is one of the toughest physical and cardiac challenges in the world, so that will make for an interesting study!”

The team can also anticipate a warm welcome in Newport given its connections there when the fleet arrives in port next year.

The team’s CEO will be Bill Erkelens, a well known name in U.S. sailing who played a leading role in the management of several America’s Cup teams.

Alvimedica CEO Dr Cem Bozkurt added: "As a young company we have a tremendous ambition in the global market. We have the same targets in sailing as well.

“Volvo Ocean Race is a rapid and dynamic event which utilises the latest technology, just like Alvimedica. We are proud to have the Turkish flag for the first time on an entry of the most challenging sailing event in the world."

Team Alvimedica will be joining Team SCA, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Dongfeng Race Team and Team Brunel in the 2014-15 race which will be contested over 38,739 nautical miles and nine months, finishing in Gothenburg on June 27, 2015.



About Alvimedica

Alvimedica is a young, agile company devoted to developing minimally-invasive medical technologies for medical professionals looking for the next level of innovation in the operating room. Alvimedica firmly believes that working closely with physicians is the best way to improve their product solutions and services in the interest of patients around the globe. Medical professionals are invited to visit the Alvimedica Centers of Excellence in R&D in Turkey, Italy and the Netherlands to present and discuss new treatment options, resulting in a growing and innovative product portfolio for endovascular and interventional cardiology. For more information, please visit www.alvimedica.com

Flat Stanley
01-30-2014, 10:02 PM
I supposed a local or two might get picked up.

I would put Matt Noble on the very top of that short list.

02-02-2014, 12:32 PM

Two years ago SCA announced it would enter a boat into the Volvo Ocean Race. They then took another bold move when they decided to enter the race with an all-female team. It's not the first all-female crew in the history of the race, but this is the first time an all-female team will receive the same support as their male competition - from start to finish.

Why an all-female team? Globally, about 80 percent of the retail products SCA makes are purchased by women. This gives SCA a natural interest in the role of women in the hygiene of millions of families around the world. By entering this team in the Volvo Ocean Race, SCA is highlighting the strength of women in society and the ability of women to take on new challenges -- be they at home or at sea.

With nine months to go to the start, Team SCA is in full training mode - both physical and sailing - at their training camp in Lanzarote, Spain.


Justine Mettraux from Geneva, Switzerland, has joined the team after just completing a Mini-Transat campaign. She is an accomplished offshore sailor and has been involved with multiple Transat and Transpacific campaigns as well as a Tour de France a la Voile and several other solo, double-handed and multihull projects.

02-02-2014, 12:50 PM
I supposed a local or two might get picked up.

I would put Matt Noble on the very top of that short list.


02-03-2014, 11:54 AM

The 3rd Volvo 65' has left the shed, Team Bunel Sailing (http://english.brunel.nl/volvo-ocean-race) with Bouwe Bekking manning the helm. The boat will be splashed shortly. Following a few trial runs, it will sail to The Netherlands for the inauguration ceremony. After that, the team and boat will leave for an as-yet-undetermined location in Southern Europe for an extensive training and selection programme.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing


all images © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race



TEAM BRUNEL NEWS – Andrew Cape joins the crew

Enkhuizen, The Netherlands – February 3, 2014 – Australian navigator Andrew Cape is back for his sixth Volvo Ocean Race with Team Brunel, reuniting with his former skipper Bouwe Bekking.
Aged 51, Cape first took part in the race in 1993-94. He entered five editions since then, including in 2005-06 when he sailed with Bekking on movistar. Cape’s addition to the team as navigator only feels natural to the Dutch skipper, now at the helm of Team Brunel.

“We have sailed many races and have been around the globe together, so we know each other very well,” said Bekking, who went through movistar’s sinking and abandonment with Cape in 2006. “Capey is a topper. He has won nearly everything you can win, but the Volvo Ocean Race is missing in his resume.

“He is not only a navigator but also a superb sailor with a sense of humour. His comments can make you laugh in the toughest situations.”

Called “Capey” by his sailing friends, the Australian took second with PUMA Ocean Racing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09. He returned with Team Telefónica in the last edition and finished third.

A strong personality and a joker, he has excelled in many other sailing races, including the triumph of winning the America’s Cup with Alinghi in 2003 and taking second in the double-handed Barcelona World Race in 2007.

“It’s great to be involved with such a good team,” said Cape. “The coming Volvo Ocean Race will be won by the sailors only. I can't wait to get on the water and prove our full potential.”

He will be in charge of analyzing the weather and deciding the best route for the 38,739 nautical miles of the next edition starting on October 4 this year. Cape has sailed six times around the globe, and also won five Sydney-Hobart races. He knows the game.

Andrew Cape in the Volvo Ocean Race:
2011-12 – Team Telefónica
2008-09 – PUMA Ocean Racing
2005-06 – movistar / Ericsson
1997-98 – Toshiba
1993-94 – Tokio



Conan the Librarian
02-04-2014, 09:16 AM

Nice shot of canting keel being inserted!

02-04-2014, 04:42 PM
Amazing how much the new designs look like the old Moonshine eh?

Bitchin Bow Dude
02-04-2014, 10:50 PM
Whats old is new. Moonshine never had that new carbon fiber/kevlar smell though.

PD Staff
02-13-2014, 02:48 PM

Charlie Enright has a new job. The 29-year old native from Rhode Island, USA, is now Team Alvimedica skipper for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.

We've followed Charlie all the way from his home to Istanbul, Southampton and Alicante in Europe for the launch of the Turkish/American team. We hope you'll enjoy the ride...

Expect more like this to be uploaded to the Official Volvo Ocean Race YouTube Channel in the future. Get all the latest updates on www.VolvoOceanRace.com

Bitchin Bow Dude
02-13-2014, 03:56 PM
Go Charlie!

PD Staff
02-24-2014, 11:11 AM

1st Day Aboard Brunel

02-25-2014, 06:01 PM

VSail.info (http://www.vsail.info/2014/02/25/emirates-team-new-zealand-to-enter-the-volvo-ocean-race-with-pedro-campos-and-mapfre/) reports that Emirates Team New Zealand will return to the Volvo Ocean Race

(February 25, 2014) – According to one of Spain’s top sailing journalists, Nicolas Terry, Emirates Team New Zealand is back in the Volvo Ocean Race, joining forces with Pedro Campos. Just like the previous edition of the round-the-world race, Emirates Team New Zealand will take part in a Kiwi-Spanish joint-venture and according to reliable sources out of a total budget of €16 million, Grant Dalton will chip in with €10 million while Mapfre, the Spanish insurance giant, will provide €6 million.

Hats off to Grant Dalton for securing yet another big-name sponsor from Spain to fund the Kiwi entry in the premiere round-the-world race. There is a rumor about a big Russian sponsor as well but this is still unconfirmed.

This is a developing story, so stay tuned…

linky (http://www.vsail.info/2014/02/25/emirates-team-new-zealand-to-enter-the-volvo-ocean-race-with-pedro-campos-and-mapfre/)

Grant Dalton's interview on Video 3 New Zealand
Dalton Interview (http://www.3news.co.nz/Video-Grant-Dalton-full-interview/tabid/415/articleID/333758/Default.aspx)

PD Staff
02-26-2014, 10:09 AM

1st images of the Abu Dhabi Volvo 65 as it emerges from the paint shed.

Next up, Alvimedica!




PD Staff
03-03-2014, 10:33 AM


PD Staff
03-05-2014, 04:04 PM


The Volvo Ocean 65 is a brand new boat, a one-design class specially built for the next two editions of the race. We did lots of calculations and ran velocity prediction programmes but who knew how fast that boat was really going to be? We wondered – you wondered. Not any more: Team Brunel has just sailed 540 miles in 24 hours between the UK and the Canary Islands last week.

540 nautical miles in 24 hours – that’s 56 miles short from the 596.6nm world record established by the Volvo Open 70 Ericsson 4 in 2008. 540 miles in 24 hours – that’s a speed average of 22.5 knots (42 km/h).

“That’s pretty good,” admitted even Bouwe Bekking, a man renowned for keeping a lid on his emotions.


all images © Feike Essink/Team Brunel/Volvo Ocean Race


With the team now based in Lanzarote for a few months, we’ve asked Brunel’s skipper a few questions. The Dutch expert is gearing up for his seventh Volvo Ocean Race participation and he knows a few things about training and performance secrets.

He doesn’t go into too many details and there is no way he would give you his boat’s top speed at this stage. But he's certainly satisfied with this first offshore trial with every good reason.

“We’ve had 45 knots of maximum wind on the nose and 35 knots downwind,” Bekking said. “The conditions were very tough but the crew held up well. There was no key damage to the boat. Overall I’m really happy with how it went.”

One of the new boat’s main performance factors appears to be the six degrees of incline axis of the keel. The vertically inclined keel lifts the bow out of the water to avoid nose-diving – a major issue in the past editions of the race. This means that the boat is faster and safer in running conditions with the wind behind it.

“It’s a completely different way to sail, and very pleasant when you bear away from the wind,” added Bekking.

“The Volvo Ocean 65 is slightly less powerful than previous Volvo boats but you can balance it with other parameters like your sail choices. We’ve learned a lot during this first long delivery, and it all looks very promising.”

Not only did these five days of sailing from Southampton to the Marina Rubicón helped Bekking to figure the potential of his boat out, but his guys got to know each other. The skipper has confirmed four crew members so far, including navigator Andrew Cape, and is triailing young candidates.

“You can hear it as I speak,” he said, struggling to talk loudly enough over the background laughter and banter in the team base. “There is a very good atmosphere here. We are all bonding and we have a real bunch of good guys onboard.”

Team Brunel are now going to sail and work on their Velocity Prediction Programmes (VPP) for the next two weeks before taking a break and train again in April.

Speaking of VPP, we asked our race meteorologist Gonzalo Infante what speeds the Volvo Ocean 65 is expected to reach. Our programme gives 11 knots as the maximum upwind speed and 30 knots as the maximum downwind speed, when sailing on flat water in 30 knots of wind.

These are theoretical numbers though, so you probably have to wait a few more months for the final answer. Only once the teams push their boats on the racetrack will these identical machines show their true potential. It’s still a game of patience – but it will soon be a game of speed.


PD Staff
03-07-2014, 11:13 AM


Blue sky, warm sea and a whole team of women sailors training hard on a high-performance boat - that's the life, fans! Team SCA’s all-female crew have been training in the Canary Islands for more than a year now. They sent us these great sailing shots from their latest sessions. We say they look petty in pink - and tough, too. What do you reckon?

All images ©Rick Tomlinson/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race



SCA, with an all-female team in the next Volvo Ocean Race, Team SCA, is to create a global competition in conjunction with Getty Images aimed at empowering more women to become professional photographers.



Working in partnership with the world’s leading photographer agencies the Team SCA Getty Academy will seek to encourage, inspire and support female photographers around the world.

Announced to coincide with International Women’s Day, the Team SCA Getty Academy will look to engage increasing numbers of female photographers to contribute and interact with Team SCA, SCA and Getty Images, within the backdrop of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The competition will be launched on April 1, 2014 and will run through to October 1, 2014. A judging panel will then select ten female photographers to experience both SCA and the race with one winner attending each stopover during the race itself in between October 2014 and June 2015.



The final collection of images will form part of a Getty Gallery showcase event in London during the summer of 2015.

SCA announced its participation with an all-female team, Team SCA, in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015 some eighteen months ago. SCA is supporting an all-female team because, globally, about 80 percent of the retail products SCA make are purchased by women. Furthermore SCA supports women’s empowerment and their freedom to participate fully in society – socially, educationally and professionally.

Using the backdrop of SCA’s involvement in the Volvo Ocean Race, photographers will be encouraged present a portfolio of images that celebrate inspiring women from all walks of life.



More INFO! (http://teamsca.com/news/2014/team-sca-marks-international-womens-day-with-global-competition-and-new-website)

Charlie Tuna
03-07-2014, 11:45 AM
No buttercups in this bunch. You go, girls!

PD Staff
03-13-2014, 06:41 PM
Tag along with CNN's Shirley Robertson on a 3 part series on the Volvo Ocean Race, and outstanding, insightful look at the current cycle, the players and the boats involved.

Part 1 (http://edition.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/sports/2014/02/13/spc-mainsail-bouwe-bekking-a.cnn.html)

CNN's Shirley Robertson meets Dutch master Bouwe Bekking as he prepares for his record equalling 7th tilt at the title.


Part 2 (http://edition.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/sports/2014/02/13/spc-mainsail-bouwe-bekking-b.cnn.html)

CNN's Shirley Robertson looks at how organizers are trying to level the playing field and make the iconic race more affordable.


Part 3 (http://edition.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/sports/2014/02/13/spc-mainsail-bouwe-bekking-c.cnn.html)

CNN's Shirley Robertson joins Dutch skipper Bouwe Bekking as he embarks on a symbolic moment before the Volvo Ocean Race.

Born 2 Sail
03-13-2014, 09:20 PM
Shirley and crew produce a very fine production, nicely done!

PD Staff
03-21-2014, 09:46 AM

“This race is so much more than a sailing event” according to Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad. But what does that mean to a non-sailor like me? I came to the race with no experience of sailing and yet it has completely sucked me into a world of adventure, personalities, and at-the-limits action. I wondered what the hell happened to me - so I asked Knut.

"Everyone has a responsibility to identify what really triggers you in life" - Knut Frostad
I have an embarrassing confession. I’ve worked for the Volvo Ocean Race for almost two years, and yet I don’t sail. Can’t sail. I get seasick and the only knot I can tie is the one that fastens my shoelaces. Despite this I have fallen in love with this event.

The man sitting opposite me knows a thing or two about sailing. Knut Frostad is the CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, a former Olympian, and a two-time skipper in this race; a man with a rich history. In short he’s the kind of guy I always want to know more about.

I made this video with Knut attempting to get inside his passion for the sea and sailing. His interview is thoughtful, insightful, and going back to that word again – passionate.

Perhaps he can help me to understand the reasons I’ve become so invested in this event. What is the mysterious appeal of the Volvo Ocean Race?

“We have a very real event where people risk their lives, it’s very serious. And we bind countries together. We don’t solve world problems, but we are creating something that people care about beyond money, and status and a lot of other things.

“In some extreme sports today you can do it just to get exposure. But this race is way too long and way too hard, and way too risky to do it for exposure. After 10 days at sea you don’t even know if people are watching you. And that’s what’s special about this race, that people do it for real. They do it because they mean it.”

And though the race is a top sporting competition and a massive commercial operation, the fuel that really drives the Volvo Ocean Race is passion. That was what hooked me. Passion is authentic, and to me, passion is one of Knut’s defining qualities.

I ask if he feels that being the driving passion behind this race can be a burden.

“First of all I think it’s not just me - people have passion throughout the race, but it can be for different pieces of the puzzle, and to me it’s much more about defining the real things that matter, whether that’s sailing or not. What I’m trying to do with this race is to translate it in a way so that people feel that it matters.

“Sometimes maybe I carry the sailing side and the responsibility for making people enthusiastic about it, but at the same time I’ve seen so many people being enthusiastic about this event and not taking it from the sailing angle. They never became fans of sailing as such, but they became huge fans of this race and what it does to people. And for me that is what this race is about. This race is a sailing event, but it’s so much more. It’s about a group of people sharing passion, travelling around the world doing cool stuff.”

And indeed the Volvo is full of ‘cool stuff’, but it’s also a monumental task to put together. To Knut, this is a key aspect of its appeal.

“The reason I like this event is because I know it’s so rewarding. All the cities, all the millions of people, all kinds of crises all the way. The race is very difficult, and very hard, and that’s why you do it.

“The Mount Everest we’re trying to climb is that we start from zero every race and then we try to get the world’s attention, and keep all the sponsors happy, 56 stakeholders and 11 cities. To me it’s more challenging than even sailing it.”

I feel I’m closer now to understanding the essence why I love this event. The race is an authentic challenge for both body and spirit.

I’m curious about one more thing - Knut is a man who exudes easygoing confidence, but surely he must have his down days?

“It changes, every day for me as anyone else.” he laughs. “But everyone has a responsibility to identify what really triggers you in life.

“There are so many jobs that are easy, and they’re so unrewarding. Something that’s very special to this event is that when you’ve done a race, you can look back and know you played a big role in it. And I think every person in this race really does. You can see yourself in the event.”

article by Austin Wong


03-25-2014, 09:56 AM

Bloomberg chats with Avimedica's Charlie Enright on the Volvo with emphasis on the art of finances
involving getting a campaign together. Click To Play (http://www.bloomberg.com/video/ivy-league-sailors-battle-billionaires-on-high-seas-TQlo88sUS921qELjx5eS1Q.html)

Built to List
03-25-2014, 09:12 PM
A superb extraction for future hopefuls on grasping the give and take relationship between sponsors and those seeking same.

IOR Geezer
03-27-2014, 12:21 PM
The title is a little confusing. Sounds like Charlie and company have a solid game plan, or Knut does at least.

Ivy Leaguers vs Billionaires? If they were playing full contact polo, it would create a certain buzz, especially if there was wagering.

04-02-2014, 01:27 PM


Published on Mar 31, 2014
Groundbreaking new Personal Climate Controlled suits introduced today by MUSTO in cooperation with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing!

The suits will enable our boys to enjoy the comfortable winter temperatures of Abu Dhabi (which average 23 degrees Centigrade) whether sailing in the freezing south Atlantic ocean or the tropical Indian Ocean. Watch this clip to learn how they work.

The original press release came with this:


Hope you're well.

Just wanted to get in touch with a new product from MUSTO that ties into their recent sponsorship of the Volvo Ocean Race.

We've created the world's first battery-powered climate-control sailing suit for the Abu Dhabi Sailing Team – who are used to much warmer temperatures than the slightly less inviting climates they'll be experiencing around Cape Horn and the like...

I've popped a release below and have attached a mocked up image. We also have additional imagery and video content available of the suit which I can forward if you're interested (didn't want to clog up your inbox) - Please note that all content is embargoed until 1st April at 11am GMT.

Would be great to hear your thoughts on whether this could work as a news story for Pressure Drop - either yay or nay.


Seems like a lot of work for the concept, Musto please contact advertising@pressure-drop.us and we'll save you $$$$

MUSTO and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing collaborate on Personal Climate Controlled Offshore Clothing for The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.

MUSTO invent the first thermostatically controlled offshore gear for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s round the world race campaign

MUSTO, the world’s leading offshore sailing brand, has revealed it has been exclusively collaborating with the elite round the world race team to develop a range of ground-breaking personal climate controlled (PCC) offshore clothing. The new suit, the PCC, will sit within the HPX Pro Series range which has been developed to meet the specific needs of the professional ocean racing sailor.

Based on state of art technology developed by the space agency, the super-lightweight, fully waterproof and breathable, one-piece stretch-to-fit Abu Dhabi PCC suits will enable the crew to maintain a comfortable body temperature whatever extremes of hot and cold they encounter during the 38,739 nautical mile race.

The ambitious project was commissioned jointly by MUSTO and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing after physiologists in the UAE capital discovered that the Emirate’s warm winter conditions, which average at 23 degrees Celsius in December and January, were the perfect conditions to support peak athletic performance and muscle recovery.

To activate the suits on board their new yacht Azzam, the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew will plug themselves into the master PCC units located at the back of the boat. Once attached, the sailors can dial up their desired body temperature using a thermostat keypad built into the forearm of the suit. Lithium battery backup will maintain heat for up to two hours when not connected to allow the sailors to unplug during watch changes or to leave the cockpit for a sail change.

Additional upsides of the body hugging suits compared to traditional offshore gear are previously undreamt of levels of freedom of movement and massive savings in the weight of the crew gear.

Nigel Musto, President of MUSTO, said "For years we have been trying to reduce clothing weight whilst maintaining performance. Now with the innovative Abu Dhabi PCC suit not only have we achieved a significant weight reduction in kit, about 90% or 80kg, but we’ve also improved both performance and recovery by allowing the sailors to maintain a consistent muscle temperature. The performance gains we have seen as a result are extremely significant.”

“As the suit is so innovative we nervously awaited feedback from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s first sail aboard Azzam – the response was so overwhelmingly positive from all the team that we couldn’t wait to unveil the PCC suit.”

“In the new one-design world of the Volvo Ocean Race, every reduction in weight or improvement in performance is like gold dust to the teams and this offshore clothing breakthrough could ultimately make the difference between winning and losing.”

ADOR Skipper Ian Walker commented "I’m certain that the MUSTO PCC Suit is a real game changer – I can’t wait to wear the finished version on the start line in October. We are now able to sail around the world in our own microclimates which for me will be set to mimic a perfect Abu Dhabi day in December. It’s set to be the most comfortable Volvo Ocean Race I have ever done"

For MUSTO the breakthrough represents a new approach to offshore sailing clothing design, which it hopes will be adopted by more elite racing teams in the future. The Abu Dhabi PCC suits will undergo four months of further tests and modifications as part of ADOR’s training programme in Europe and North America before the final race-ready suits are handed over to the team in September.

MUSTO plan to have the new suits available in stores by the end of July 2015.

04-05-2014, 11:49 PM


Look what just come out of the paint shed!

PD Staff
04-06-2014, 08:46 AM

Seahorse Magazine provides some detail to Team Alvimedica, Knut's vision and the new model of the Volvo Ocean Race

[I]In one Volvo Ocean Race cycle teams have gone from being chockablock with the most seasoned ocean racing veterans to more than half the teams full of first-time roundthe- world sailors for the 2014/15 race. The reasons for this global change are many, and reaping the benefits of race CEO Knut Frostad’s management of this evolution are two young Americans and a Turkish medical equipment company. Charlie Enright and Mark Towill, the leaders of newly formed Team Alvimedica, are set to be poster boys for this new model of ocean racing where next-generation stars are identified early and shopped around to sponsors knocking at Frostad’s door wanting in on a race where new design builds are no longer a prerequisite for entry.

‘I saw a video in 2011 of their Transat project and how they had raised their own funds,’ says Frostad. ‘They already had a good media guy with Amory Ross and I thought, “This is what the future looks like.”’

So Frostad flew Enright and Towill over to the start of the last race in Alicante. He had been in discussions with Alvimedica for a year when he introduced the two Americans to Cem Bozkurt, the company’s CEO, at a Volvo function last autumn. They hit it off this winter and Bozkurt signed on to this and possibly also the next running of the event. ‘At the Alicante meeting they wanted to paint a clear picture of the amount of work involved and how much responsibility was on our shoulders,’ says Towill. ‘At the end of the day it’s us leading the charge.’

Towill says he and Enright put together their sponsorship package with seed money they had raised, hired graphic designers for their visualisations and funded their own travel. Volvo lent guidance, he says, in each aspect as well. ‘But before Alicante,’ says Towill, ‘it was still a dream.’

It has been reported that this team will be an all ‘under-30’ team and all American sailors. Enright says neither is true. When asked if they are looking for sailors who have done the race, he says, ‘That’d be great. We’re looking to surround ourselves with a great team that works well together. Being the youngest team will happen organically.’

He added that by the time you sail one or two races you’re usually no longer under 30. ‘Except maybe one individual,’ says Enright, probably referring to Rome Kirby whose stock is high after one Volvo Ocean Race and a winning America’s Cup campaign all by the age of 24.

Team Alvimedica is also carrying solid street cred on the management side with the signing of Bill Erkelens, a recommendation from veteran American Volvo team manager Kimo Worthington. Erkelens has run several large-scale sailing projects including Oracle’s 2000 America’s Cup bid and the build of Speedboat for Alex Jackson.

Enright, 29, and Towill, 25, weren’t quite plucked from obscurity. The two have built careers as professional sailors filling every role possible. Enright says the past 10 years for him have been about creating opportunities in the sport and ‘the next 10 are about capitalising on them’. And they are both well aware of their fortune in being tapped by Frostad. ‘It’s easier to sail around the world than find a sponsor,’ says Enright. ‘And if it was the last race [with the VO70] we’d be so far behind…’

Enright, a dinghy sailor from New England, and Towill, from Hawaii, leapfrogged their way into the offshore racing scene when they were selected for Roy Disney’s Morning Light motion picture project for the 2007 TransPac. Enright was still in his teens and it was a chance he labelled an ‘opportunity on steroids’. Since then the Volvo has been the pair’s only goal.

‘Being younger, it’s tough to get into a leadership position and bring your team along,’ says Enright who stepped into a sales job at North Sails right after college. Building his skills with privately owned raceboats moved him closer to his goal but he and Towill may be the first fruits of Oakcliff Sailing’s labours to create a pathway for professional sailors in the US.

Enright and Towill took the bull by the horns and helped to create the All-American Offshore Team, competing in the 2010 Bermuda Race on the 90-footer Genuine Risk and the 2011 Transat with the STP 65 Vanquish. Though neither are graduates of Oakcliff, they have received considerable financial and logistical support from Hunt Lawrence’s organisation. Boat owners the two raced with and family and friends also contributed to their campaigns and have helped fill in the pieces leading up to the Volvo Ocean Race deal.

Towill, a Brown University graduate like Enright, has had his head down since the Morning Light project, racing on the small keelboat circuit in between trips to his home in Kaneohe, winning a Melges 32 worlds along the way. He has also been part of the successful Team Aqua on the RC44 circuit. But creating opportunities over the past seven years wasn’t enough to break into the Volvo, says Enright, until Volvo’s own business development arm, bolstered by a one-design fleet of Volvo Ocean 65s, tapped them.

‘With the one-design concept we didn’t want to level the playing field, that sends the wrong message,’ says Knut Frostad. ‘Rather we want to open the race up and remove entry barriers.’ Removing those barriers, which included the need for full-time design and build experts in addition to the shore and sailing teams, has already borne fruit for the Volvo Ocean Race.

The next step for the event was to help interested sponsors find teams and Frostad has helped usher in this process through the business development arm of the race. Alvimedica, a company only six years old, saw a clear path to a worthy sponsorship agreement. ‘We can’t use classical marketing like advertising in newspapers or TV in our industry,’ says Bozkurt, whose company makes medical equipment specifically for use by cardiologists. From the beginning of Alvimedica he analysed the interests of their customers and golf, tennis and sailing were the top three. So he began to look for events in those realms to sponsor.

Many efforts have been made of late to make professional sailing a sustainable ‘mainstream’ sport, raising the profiles, and salaries, of the sailors, and garnering workable sponsorship relationships. Only the marquee events have had the bandwidth to experiment with these possibilities and for the Volvo Ocean Race Knut Frostad’s clear perspective on the evolution of professional sailing has lit a pathway to redefine the professional sailing model for offshore events. When I interviewed Frostad for a piece on Team Alvimedica my first question was a cynical one, asking why there are so many newbies in the race and was this all necessary? He came back quickly with a concise history lesson, which led to his innovative business solution for Volvo. ‘This [professional sailing] is not something that happened in the first [Whitbread] race,’ said Frostad. ‘In the 1980s and ’90s people who made teams happen were famous skippers: Dennis [Conner], Peter Blake, Grant Dalton. If they wanted to compete they had to raise the money themselves. When Peter Blake grew up his only option was to create what today is commercial sailing. The people who sailed for those teams then grew up in a different world. The new generation was always paid as professional sailors. Now, who is making the teams happen?’

That question, ‘Who is making the teams happen?’, was one that Frostad said has kept his and his predecessor’s stomachs unsettled each race cycle. He took the bold step in 2008 to have Volvo help find the backing for two teams. In 2011 there were three teams Volvo helped to usher into the race. ‘Now we find sponsors ourselves,’ said Frostad. ‘They are looking for a profile. This is a very good way. We [Volvo] are the only one who has the same objective as the sponsor.’

Sponsors of ocean racing teams are wondering what kind of risk they are taking. As the entity running the event, Volvo now says, ‘We’ll take care of you too.’ Frostad said the old model left a lot of uncertainty in the sponsor/team relationship. ‘Sailors would pitch to sponsors,’ he said, ‘and it’s not easy for a sponsor to tell who’s good and who’s not.’ Even though there are one-design boats and a heavy proportion of new Volvo Ocean Race sailors this race, Frostad sees this as an ‘opening of doors’ and the way forward for the sport’s new heroes. Almost more importantly, the sponsors, including Alvimedica CEO Cem Bozkurt, see eye to eye with Frostad on the Volvo Ocean Race business model. ‘It’s not logical for a business to run after designing and building a boat, and finding a team,’ said Bozkurt. ‘We should be doing our own business.’

‘Single player sports don’t mean much to us,’ says Bozkurt who races a Farr 40 and IRC 30 for corporate teambuilding within the company. ‘This is nine months with nine guys. It’s a really big dream for everyone. Most of our doctors will be watching.’

Bozkurt asked Frostad to help find a sailing team. Alvimedica initially engaged former members of Team New Zealand. ‘But they didn’t fully appreciate the changes at Volvo and were insisting on the old model,’ says Bozkurt. ‘So we thought, instead of experience, let’s back a team of youngsters.’

Beyond the exposure and hosting a series of symposiums for cardiologists at the stopovers, Bozkurt hopes to gain as a race byproduct an infusion of inspiration for the youth of Turkey. ‘Turkey is a young country,’ says Bozkurt, ‘and Charlie and Mark are courageous. They did not give up education due to sailing. Bright young people don’t have to give up on sailing to go to work, nor the other way around. They are good examples. If you arrange your business well, sailing helps with career development and is also a lifelong sport.’

The big question as we approach the race start is whether or not the raw talent of the youngest team in the race is enough to take a podium or will image and personal stories alone fulfil sponsors’ needs? ‘Are we favouring young kids and giving them something better than they warrant? Maybe… but the older sailors are still there and blocking positions,’ says Frostad. ‘In skiing young guys are spotted and kicked up all the time.’

Frostad used the Youth America’s Cup as an example of the potential in promoting younger sailors. ‘After four days of practice those teams looked as professional as the Cup teams. This tells you the young are really good talent we just don’t see.’ He says the old heroes will still be there but it’s hard to get engagement from 16-30 year-olds when the heroes are 50.

Worthington agrees. ‘Is there much depth? Maybe not,’ he says. ‘That’s a problem with less expensive campaigns. But it’s good to have new blood. You need a guy like Charlie. He had a dream, picked up the phone and made it happen.’

No team represents this transition in the Volvo Ocean Race better than Alvimedica and, though the team have yet to hit the water for training, their management style with a uniquely American approach has been road-tested in podium finishes by Paul Cayard, John Kostecki and Ken Read.

‘Charlie has asked a lot of questions,’ says Worthington, project manager for the past two Puma campaigns and race winner with Cayard and EF Language.

‘But there has to be a little cockiness and these guys are confident. You do what you think you want to do. You have to make the call and have enough confidence in yourself. If you rely too much on advisors then you can’t make the life or death calls. That’s the way it rolls.’

Striking similarities appear when overlaying Worthington’s successful campaign management approach with Enright and Towill’s. In his first Volvo campaigns he stopped asking questions when he thought he’d heard enough. ‘More important,’ says Worthington, ‘is letting the skipper just concentrate on racing the boat. Conflicts with crew, thinking about budget, flights, I set that up. Kenny just went sailing. I see that arrangement with Charlie and Mark.’

Towill has already shown the confidence Worthington admires. He has taken on the crew management role Worthington has filled for American Volvo teams for nearly two decades. ‘Other teams are announcing a few sailors at a time,’ says Towill. ‘We’re not doing that. The dynamic between our sailors will be an advantage to us.’

Towill says the training sessions this spring in Lisbon and summer in Newport, including two transatlantic passages, will involve 10 sailors per session: ‘It’s one thing to pick a team on paper, it’s another to go for a week and see how it handles. We want to let the sailing do the work.’

Frostad’s vision of the future will certainly be played out on the water over the coming months as a few of those place ‘blockers’ butt up against the Enrights of the fleet. Are the young guys intimidated by these heroes? ‘I don’t have any real heroes I look up to. I look at all of them and take the best from each. I look at all the pitfalls too. No one’s perfect.’

We invite you to read on and find out for yourself why Seahorse is the most highly-rated source in the world for anyone who is serious about their racing.

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PD Staff
04-08-2014, 01:05 PM
1st look of Alvimedica as she splashes ins South Hampton, Great Britain.







Above images courtesy Green Marine/Volvo

Below images courtesy Team Alvimedica



PD Staff
04-08-2014, 04:40 PM


A landmark day for Team Alvimedica- pull down test followed by getting the sails up for the first time and going for a sail! How many sailing days on Alvimedica do you think they will get in between today and the end of the Volvo Ocean Race in June 2015?






PD Staff
04-28-2014, 09:12 AM

13 women, 3750 nautical miles, 12 days – and 26 knots of wind overnight. Team SCA are crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.

The all-female crew left their Spanish base in Lanzarote on Thursday, sailing to Newport in the USA.

Onboard Reporter trialist Corinna Halloran sent us a report from the boat – and it sounds quite wild.


all images © Corinna Halloran/Team SCA


Day 2: Transatlantic Blog

Imagine riding a wicked fast motorbike at night. You're cruising along down a windy road. Suddenly, it starts to rain, not just a nice easy rain but a relentless rain – the kind that floods roads.

And then you're blind folded. You cannot get off the motorbike; you are propelling yourself faster and faster down hills and bends, into the dark night with water all around.

This is what it was like sailing downwind last night in 26 knots. Completely exposed to all of the elements, maneuvering through a gybe completely blind.

Sam was stationed at the helm. Her focus was completely on getting the boat safely down waves. She couldn’t see to ensure no one was injured whilst stacking sails from windward to leeward. This process can be a challenge – think carrying long, wet, potato sacks over your shoulder – but you're trying to not to get hurt, or worse, fall off the boat as it screams down waves doing 22, 23, 24, 25 knots.



The girls knew the night was going to be tricky. During dinner, Stacey made a good point: we were certainly jumping off into the deep end! No chance to hide now! With the wind and sea state only increasing during the night, the girls needed to be focused.

Staying focused, Sam said, would be the key to being safe on a night like last night. All maneuvres, even the smallest of ones, needed to be thoughtful and done with the utmost concentration.

Once dawn broke, we continued to see much of the same conditions from the night before, except now we could see. Over the day we had to gybe a few more times before putting in our final, multi-day gybe shortly before dinner.

Abby was pretty happy with how the first 24 hours had gone – despite the tough conditions – they had sent it.



Team SCA transatlantic crew - Lanzarote-Newport
1. Sally Barkow (USA) - Helm / Trimmer
2. Carolijn Brouwer (NED) - Navigator / Helm
3. Dee Caffari (GBR) - Helm / Pit
4. Sophie Ciszek (AUS) – Bow
5. Sam Davies (GBR) - Watch Captain / Person In Charge
6. Abby Ehler (GBR) - Boat Captain/ Pit
7. Stacey Jackson (AUS) – Bow
8. Annie Lush (GBR) - Helm / Trimmer
9. Elodie-Jane Mettraux (SUI) - Helm / Trimmer
10. Justine Mettraux (SUI) - Helm / Trimmer
11. Liz Wardley (AUS) - Watch Captain
Libby Greenhalgh (GBR) - Navigator (on trial)
Corinna Halloran (USA) - OBR (on trial)

ETA into Newport on Tuesday May 6, 2014

Route: Lanzarote – waypoint east of the Caribbean – Newport

Return trip: Newport – waypoint off Lisbon, Portugal (a dry run of the Leg 7) - Lanzarote


PD Staff
05-02-2014, 10:00 AM

Emirates Team New Zealand announced today that it would not be competing in the next Volvo Ocean Race.

In recent weeks, the team had explored a joint challenge with Spanish interests. The Volvo Ocean race starts at Alicante, Spain, on October 4 this year.

Grant Dalton said the team was not convinced it could mount a successful challenge in the time available and the team’s energies would be better directed towards the next America’s Cup.

Dalton said the team had worked hard with excellent people representing the Spanish interests and with the Volvo Ocean Race management to get an entry to the start line.

“In the end, time was against us. Every passing day magnified the impact that preparations for a round-the-world race would have on Emirates Team New Zealand’s other operations.

“The team exists to win the America’s Cup. With the imminent announcement of the Protocol for the 35th America’s Cup, it’s time for us to withdraw reluctantly from any consideration of participation in the Volvo Ocean race.”

- See more at: http://etnzblog.com/#!2014/05/etnz-wont-compete-in-the-volvo-race

PD Staff
05-19-2014, 08:51 AM


It’s not always about the racing, the technology or the plaudits. Sometimes it’s about the feeling of being driven by the wind, the sting of the spray, the hull carving through the water – the simple act of sailing.

Less than five months to the first In-Port Race in Alicante and the teams are gearing up. So far there are five boats in the hands of the best sailors in the world, boats designed to race through some of the most violent conditions on earth.

This is a hard race and the boats are tough, as are the people who sail them. But amongst the hardship, there are also moments of beauty.

And as the anticipation is building, it’s important to remember why sailing is so much more than a sport. It’s a feeling and a passion.

We love sailing. We are the Volvo Ocean Race.


The Volvo Ocean Race is famous for stunning pictures taken in glamorous locations around the world. But how do we capture these amazing images?
In this video we show you how a complex aerial shoot is organised - from the high-tech racing boats and world-class crews sailing them to the photographers and cameramen flying high above.

Follow this link to watch a compilation of the best of our aerial footage - bit.ly/1t2sIOr


All images © Gilles Martin-Raget/Volvo



PD Staff
05-21-2014, 08:51 AM
Alvimedica’s new kids on the block draw on world class mentoring scheme

Team Alvimedica’s young guns challenging for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 are already making up the experience gap with innovative solutions to make them as competitive as possible before the starter’s gun sounds in October.

Skipper Charlie Enright and Mark Towill launched their rookie campaign for offshore racing’s most prestigious crown back in January this year and have made huge strides already training in their new one-design Volvo Ocean 65.

But the American sailors, both still in their 20s, know they need some proven Volvo Ocean Race know-how if they are to contest the title seriously against event veterans who have taken part up to seven times before.


As part of a pre-planned, collaborative mentoring scheme which is thought to be the first of it kind in the 41-year history of the classic event, the Alvimedica sailors will be tapping the experience of five leading Volvo Ocean Race heroes to improve their chances of success.

The team will be revealing the identities of four of these later but have certainly kicked off the scheme in style with one of the biggest names in the event’s history.

“We decided to take our courage in our hands and ask the best in the business – in our eyes – to help us out and give us the benefit of his huge knowledge,” said Enright.


Full backing

“We approached the legendary Paul Cayard, who won the Race back in 1997-98, and is one of the biggest names ever to compete. What he doesn’t know about the Volvo Ocean Race and sailing – both offshore and in-port – isn’t worth knowing.”

With the full backing of their sponsors Alvimedica, the young Turkey-based medical devices company which is also moving into challenging new waters with a new global sales push, fellow American Cayard agreed to join them for a sailing master class.

Said Cayard, 54, who won the Race in his Volvo Ocean Race debut on board EF Language: “These guys remind me of me in so many ways when I started out. Sure, they’re green at this level but my goodness, they’re open to learning everything they can and we had a blast in the five days we spent together in Cascais (near Lisbon, Portugal) earlier this month.”

The move to approach Cayard, also a legend in America’s Cup sailing and a former Olympian, surprised many of their seasoned Race rivals but he certainly admired the chutzpah of Enright and Towill.

“These boys have already shown guts galore in simply getting this campaign off the ground and they’ll need more sailing around the world. They need to think out of the box like this. We won on EF Language by being innovative and flexible in keeping changing tactics and Team Alvimedica are taking the same route.”


“We wanted to find a crew full of sailors who reflect what we stand for as a company – young, agile, courageous, innovative, – but at the same time collaborative and caring,” said Anna Malm Bernsten, the Campaign Director for Team Alvimedica.

“This story encapsulates all those qualities. Cayard can be a frightening guy when he’s yelling instructions to our young lads but wow, his heart is made of gold. Not many people with his experience would be willing to drop everything for five days to help out our boys like this,” she continued.

The 38,739-nautical mile Volvo Ocean Race kicks off on October 4 with the first in-port race in Alicante, Spain – home of the race – before the first leg to Cape Town begins exactly a week later.

It concludes on June 27, 2015 with the in-port race of Gothenburg, Sweden having visited nine other ports around the world in between (see editors’ notes).

Buzz Light Beer
05-21-2014, 09:52 AM
Pierre must have some wild stories for the greenhorns!

PD Staff
05-29-2014, 09:30 PM
TEAM ALVIMEDICA NEWS: Biggest test yet for young crew of Team Alvimedica as they set off for Newport


Lisbon, Portugal - Team Alvimedica set out for the biggest test yet of the young crew when they leave Lisbon on Friday, bound for Newport, Rhode Island across the Atlantic in preparation for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.

They are the new kids on the block in the biggest offshore challenge in sailing but are already soaking up experience thanks to a mentoring scheme put in place by team management.

Earlier this month, the crew used the skills and know-how of former race winner Paul Cayard to show them the ropes in their new Volvo Ocean 65 and for the trip across the Atlantic they will be receiving the wise advice of New Zealand’s Stu Bannatyne.

Bannatyne is one of the most successful sailors ever to take part in the Volvo Ocean Race, formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race.

He has been on the winning boat three times out of the six times he has competed, including victory in his debut appearance in 1993-94 on NZ Endeavour, skippered by another race legend Grant Dalton.

Bannatyne also triumphed as watch captain on illbruck in 2001-02 and Ericsson 4 in 2008-09. He finished second on board CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand in the last Race in 2011-12.

“It was great having Paul Cayard at our first session and it will be fantastic having someone like Stu as our second. Both of them bring a lot to the table and it’s up to us to absorb each of their different perspectives,” said delighted Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright.

“Stu comes across as a hardened race veteran, because he is, but that hasn’t stopped him from generously sharing his experiences with us. We’re really lucky to have him with us”.

Enright and his fellow crewmember Mark Towill have already enjoyed an incredible journey to reach the start line of the Volvo Ocean Race that begins with the Alicante in-port race on October 4 and then leaves for the first leg to Cape Town exactly a week later.

They first met as the young stars of the Disney movie Morning Light seven years ago and hatched a dream to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race after learning more about the event from several race veterans on the film set.


Thanks to the backing of Alvimedica, a European-based medical device company with head quarters in Istanbul with equally big ambitions to build a global reputation as the best in their business, their dream to take part in the Volvo Ocean Race has come true.

Bannatyne has certainly been impressed by what he’s seen so far of Enright, Towill and their young crew-mates who are trying out during the Atlantic voyage to complete the rest of the final line-up.

“I have been impressed so far with the professionalism and enthusiasm that Charlie and his young team have approached their campaign. Their energy to innovate and push hard for the best solutions in the programme has been great to see and I am really looking forward to working with them on this Transatlantic session”

The team management and Alvimedica plan to introduce more legendary names from the race’s history to give the youngsters – both Enright and Towill are in their 20s – an extra edge against rivals who are double their age and have at least double their offshore experience.

“In Alvimedica we have high ambitions in what we do. We always seek the best expertise worldwide within our field, to develop long lasting world-class collaboration. Using that same mindset for Team Alvimedica comes naturally as we care for our crew and their performance as if they were our family members. It is in our DNA,” said Anna Malm Bernsten, Campaign Director of Team Alvimedica.

PD Staff
07-07-2014, 06:19 AM

Newport, RI, July 7, 2014 – Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright today confirmed seven of the eight final race crew as well as the On-Board Reporter for the Volvo Ocean Race.

In addition to the Bristol, RI skipper and team co-founder Mark Towill, 25, of Kaneohe, HI, the race crew named today are: Alberto Bolzan, 32, Trieste, Italy; Nick Dana, 28, Newport, RI; Ryan Houston, 31, Auckland, NZL; Will Oxley, 49, North Queensland, Australia; and Dave Swete, 30, of Auckland, NZL. Amory Ross, 30, of Newport, RI is the On-Board Reporter.

The team sets out from Newport on Wednesday July 9 at 2pm for a Transatlantic training run to the United Kingdom with the newly named crew. The team will line up against Volvo Ocean Race opponent Abu Dhabi for a promotional start out of Narragansett Bay. The public can view the action from Fort Adams State Park.

“With only eight race crew positions each role on board is vital,” Enright said. “Sailing skill is the main requirement but equally important is the team chemistry and ability to work together in a confined space for 38,000 miles around the world. To achieve great results on the water we need a collaborative group who will look after each other’s safety and well being throughout a range of challenging conditions. We are confident in our crew and look forward to facing the challenges and sharing the experiences of the Volvo Ocean Race together as a team.”

Team Alvimedica Race Crew:

Team Co-Founders: Charlie Enright and Mark Towill

Skipper Charlie Enright, 29, of Bristol, RI, and crewmember Mark Towill, 25, of Kanohe, HI, co-founded Team Alvimedica. The pair first met in 2006 when they were both selected to join Morning Light for the 2007 Transpac Race. The young crew was the subject of a Disney documentary movie of the same name. It was during this program that Charlie and Mark, both Brown University graduates, learned of their mutual passion to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race.

With backing from the Oakcliff Sailing Center, Charlie and Mark recruited an 18-member team of young sailors to compete in the 2011 Transatlantic Race from Newport, RI to England. The team earned the 2011 Transatlantic Youth Team Championship title and finished first in the youth division of the 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race and third overall in the 300-boat fleet.
Charlie Enright, 29, Bristol RI
DOB: September 10, 1984

The Enright family has deep roots in Bristol, a waterfront community rich in sailing heritage. Charlie first took to the water at age 3. By the time he was 5, he was sailing various recreational dinghies and by age 10, he was competing on a national level. Charlie was a four-time member of the All-American sailing team at Brown University. Charlie started logging ocean-racing miles at every chance, winning the Newport Bermuda Race in 2010, the Youth Division of the Transatlantic Race in 2011, and finishing 3rd in the IRC Division of the Fastnet Race that same year.
Mark Towill, 25, Kaneohe, HI
DOB: October 20, 1988

Mark is a native of Hawaii, growing up on Oahu. At an early age he was drawn to the water surrounding his home island and became an avid sailor and kayaker by age 10. At Brown University, Mark earned BA degrees in both Economics and Environmental Studies while competing on the top-five ranked Varsity sailing team. While working to make the Volvo Ocean Race dream a reality, Mark competed in a variety of professional classes becoming World Champion in the Melges 32 class in 2011 and a Tour Champion in the RC 44 class in 2012 and 2013.

Race Crew:

Alberto Bolzan, 32, Trieste, Italy
DOB: May 14, 1982

The Italian crewmember will be competing in his first Volvo Ocean Race. Sailing from a young age with his parents, Alberto sailed Optimist to Olympic class boats before moving on to big boats from Melges 24s and 32s (Mascalzone Latino), to Farr 40s (Joe Fly and Enfant Terrible), TP52s (Luna Rossa and Pisco Sour) and Maxis (Esimit Europa 2). The four-time winner of the Giro D’Italia has won four world championships.

Nick Dana, 28, Newport, RI
DOB: February 6, 1986

At only 28, Nick is embarking on his third Volvo Ocean Race for the first time as a member of the race crew. He was with the PUMA Ocean Racing 2008-09 shore team and was the on-board media person for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 2011-12. Nick’s decade of professional racing has produced a long list of ocean racing accomplishments including four Newport Bermuda Races, three Fastnets, a Middle Sea Race and a Transatlantic Race on a range of grand prix racing yachts and a recent defense of the King’s Hundred Guinea Cup with the J Boat Hanuman. Having worked for many years at his family’s Shipyard in Newport, Nick can maintain and repair boats as well as he can race them.

Ryan Houston, 31, Auckland, New Zealand
DOB: October 6, 1982

This will be Ryan’s third Volvo Ocean Race as race crew. Competing previously with Delta Lloyd and Team Sanya, Ryan is looking forward to contributing his race know-how. Ryan has competed in many of the world’s ocean classics including three Sydney Hobarts, four Transatlantic Races, and four Fastnets. Most recently Ryan has been sailing with the TP52 Vesper and the Beau Geste grand prix racing programs. A graduate of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s youth program, he started sailing at Hamilton Lake on New Zealand’s North Island.

Will Oxley, 49, North Queensland, Australia
DOB: April 22, 1965

Will brings navigation depth to this young team having been part of three Volvo Ocean Races, twice as navigator. Will has completed more than 240,000 nm of ocean racing including four round the world races and 14 Sydney to Hobart races. He skippered Compaq in the BT Global Challenge 2000/01 and he was also the weather coordinator for the Swedish Victory Challenge America’s Cup team. He provided navigation and weather support for Puma in the 2008/09 Volvo Ocean Race. For the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race he was navigator with Camper (Emirates Team New Zealand). Will is also a marine biologist, working from 1992-2000 at the Australian Institute of Marine Science as part of the Long-term Monitoring Project studying the Great Barrier Reef.

David Swete, 30, Auckland, New Zealand
DOB: November 17, 1983

Dave is returning for his second Volvo Ocean Race. In the 2011-2012 edition with Team Sanya, Dave competed as race crew and was honored with the prestigious Hans Horrevoets Award for Young Sailor of the Race. Dave’s recent accomplishments include winning the 2014 Newport Bermuda Race with the Mini Maxi Shockwave. With this team, Dave also won the 2014 Antigua 600 and placed first in Key West 2013. He has been logging ocean-racing miles with four Sydney Hobarts, two Fastnets, the Transatlantic Race, Transpac, and two Middle Sea Races to his credit including a 2009 win on the TP52 Lucky. A graduate of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s youth program, Dave won the 2009 World Match Racing Championships with Adam Minoprio. He also competed in the 2012 America’s Cup World Series events with China Team and Red Bull Racing.

On-Board Reporter:

Amory Ross, 30, Newport, RI
DOB: June 29, 1984

The On-Board Reporter, also known as the “OBR,” has the unique role of sailing on board for the entire race but not contributing in any way to the performance of the boat. Amory will be on board for the entire race to transmit words, images and video of life on board. In addition he has non-performance enhancing roles on board such as provisioning and preparation of the food. Amory was on board PUMA Ocean Racing in the 2011-2012 edition in this capacity. Amory also worked as part of the video team for ORACLE TEAM USA’s successful defense of the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco.

The eighth race crew position with Team Alvimedica will be filled closer to the race start. The team spent one month in their Newport homeport. The boat and crew will next be in the United States during the only North American race stopover May 5-17, 2014.

Team Alvimedica is the youngest entry in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015, which is the world's toughest and longest sporting event. The crew is led by American skipper Charlie Enright, age 29. The team’s owner, Alvimedica, is a young European based medical devices company, which is committed to developing minimally invasive technologies. Founded in 2007, Alvimedica is a fast growing challenger in the global field of interventional cardiology. This is the team’s first entry in the extremely challenging 38,000-mile race that starts in Alicante, Spain on October 4, 2014, stopping in 11 ports around the world. Follow the Team on: www.facebook.com/TeamAlvimedica and on www.volvooceanrace.com

PD Staff
07-17-2014, 12:21 PM

Promotion video for "No Ordinary Women", a unique four episode television series portraying a team of fantastic ocean racing women, Team SCA, as they prepare to take on the Volvo Ocean Race. Find out what drives these women to sail the first all-female Volvo Ocean Race entry in 12 years. Visit teamsca.com/noordinarywomen for more info.

08-11-2014, 09:22 AM

After a 1 day postponement of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race due to the remnants of Hurricane Bertha, 5 established Volvo Ocean Race Teams have jumped out of the gate in brisk conditions for the 1st head to head contest of offshore capabilities...

Volvo Ocean 65s neck and neck in Solent

COWES, England – Five Volvo Ocean Race boats are currently neck and neck in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland race, which began at 0900 this morning.

Our fleet of Volvo Ocean 65s is leading the monohulls as they exit the English Channel. Currently in front is the Spanish team - whose title sponsor has yet to be announced - skippered by Iker Martínez, and Charles Caudrelier’s Dongfeng Race Team are a close runner-up.

In third place, Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are pushing the front two hard, and being pursued by the all-female Team SCA. Rhode Island’s Team Alvimedica, skippered by Charlie Enright, currently find themselves some way behind their rivals in fifth position.

To find out more, go to the official race tracker.

The event, which marks the first time that so many of the new Volvo Ocean Race 65s have raced against each other, was originally due to start a day earlier, at midday on Sunday – but was pushed back due to stormy weather blowing in from across the Atlantic.

And despite the warmer and more settled conditions today, the race route was reversed, which means that the fleet will sail anti-clockwise around the isles, rather than the traditional clockwise.

In spite of the changes, the boats were still faced with strong winds, and that meant that they had no problems slipping quickly into race mode – with Team SCA grabbing pole position during the early exchanges.

Despite pressure from Dongfeng Race Team and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, the girls held their own – and as the boats passed Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower, they hung on to a narrow lead.

But the gap to first place was soon closed by their rivals, and a late charge from the Spanish team saw Martínez’s crew edge ahead following an underwhelming start.

It was a fast and ferocious beginning to proceedings by the teams, and the tricky conditions were underlined by news of an injury to Dongfeng Race Team’s Pascal Bidégorry.

The experienced French navigator collided with another crew member, lost balance and fell, injuring his hand. The resulting cut required four stitches.

Team Alvimedica’s Will Oxley, who has completed two campaigns previously, spoke before the beginning of the race about the difficulties that the notoriously testing route would raise.

“It’s a great race track, one of the best in the world, and from a navigator’s perspective, it’s very, very busy,” he said.

“It will also give us more time to work together, to tackle decisions, and go through the decision-making process, so that it is as smooth as it can be come race time in the Volvo Ocean Race.”

And his team made one big decision earlier this week, as they announced their final crew member ahead of the first leg October start in Alicante.

Matt Noble, a 28-year-old San Francisco native, will be onboard for the race around Britain – and has known his skipper for a long time.

“Sure, I’ve sailed with Charlie (Enright) and Mark (Towill) in the past - I crossed the Atlantic with them a few years ago,” explains Matt.

“Even then, they said that their goal was to get a Volvo Ocean Race campaign together – so when I heard they’d succeeded, I was really happy for them.”

So was his addition a long time coming, or was he surprised to receive the call from his skipper?

“I knew that there was a core of sailors who they’d be considering for the crew, and I was stoked to find out that my name was a little higher up that list than I thought!”

The announcement of Noble, who is currently engaged to be married and is due to get married next summer, is the second crew addition to the race in a week following Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s recruitment of seasoned Kiwi Daryl Wislang a couple of days earlier.

The team, skippered by Ian Walker, has also confirmed that Matt Knighton will fill the role of Onboard Reporter.

Having raced with third-placed Telefónica Blue and second-placed Camper in previous additions, 33-year-old bowman Daryl brings a wealth of experience to Azzam – and is keen to grab his first Volvo Ocean Race trophy.

“The real reason I’m back is the fact that I haven’t won one yet,” he says.

“It’s time to put that right, and I’m confident that the Abu Dhabi team gives me the best chance of that.”

For full details of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race visit the official website.


Race postponed due to weather - new start announced...
#rorcsrbi Newsflash! Race Postponement Announced

The Race Committee have taken the decision to postpone the start of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race 2014 by 21 hours. The new start time will be 0900 on the 11th August 2014.

The Race Committee took this decision after receiving advice that the low pressure system known as Bertha is moving more slowly than previously predicted, with the result that the forecast winds for the start and the immediate period afterwards includes sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts in excess of 50 knots in the English Channel.

The advice is that this delay will allow time for the severe winds to abate as the low pressure system moves North East.

To keep up to date with information visit the race web site. http://roundbritainandireland.rorc.org/



all images © Ainhoa Sanchez



Original Press Release:

COWES, England, August 7 – Five Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 boats will line up against each other in a dress rehearsal of the event proper when they compete in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race on Sunday.

The race is expected to take at least five days to complete depending on conditions and will give a form guide for Team SCA, Dongfeng Race Team, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Team Alvimedica and Iker Martinez’s Spanish crew ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race start on October 4 in Alicante, Spain.

For Abu Dhabi’s highly experienced skipper Ian Walker it is a real opportunity to scout the opposition ahead of the gruelling nine-month ocean battle round the world in their identical Volvo Ocean 65 boats.

“I’m not worried about bragging rights,” said their skipper, Ian Walker. “We don’t know where we are right now. I think we’re in a really good space – but we don’t know. Essentially, we will find out where we’re at.

“If you’re asking me whether I’ll have one eye on the other boats I can tell you I’ll have more than one eye on the other teams! I might even have some cameras on them,” he joked.

Team SCA finished third in the Round Canary Islands Race last month behind the Spanish team and winners of the mini-Volvo Ocean Race contest, Team Brunel. They will be looking to continue their offshore progress against more of their Volvo Ocean Race competitors.

Libby Greenhalgh laughed off claims that the teams might take the race a little easy, with nine months at sea playing on their minds.

'Full pelt'

“You’ve got to go full pelt, really go for it,” she said. “We’re still massively learning. We need to work out where we can make gains, and where our strengths are.

“It’ll be exactly the same approach as the Round Canary Islands Race, but with more of a fleet element. The other boats have done a lot of offshore sailing before, and this is all new for a lot of us.”

Sam Davies agrees. “Although we’ve been training for the longest, we are the underdogs and the least experienced. We’ve come so far – this time last year we wouldn’t have been capable of doing this.

“We’re not going to hide anything, we’re just going to go out there and do the best job we can, knowing we have a lot to learn.”

For Team Alvimedica, who recently completely a transatlantic crossing to arrive in the Solent, the race poses a new challenge – the opportunity to race against their new rivals for the first time officially with a tricky route to navigate.

“It’s very coastal with lots of corners and headlands, so it will certainly keep us on our toes,” said leading crew member Mark Towill. “I think there’ll be a real emphasis on boat handling. I’ve never done this race before so I’m looking forward to ticking that box.”

The Spanish team, whose main title sponsor is unlikely be announced sooner than next month, have recruited experienced Galician sailor Gonzalo Araújo for Sunday’s Round Britain and Ireland Race.

“With the little preparation time that we have, and the fact that we’re very behind on that score compared with the other teams, we need all the help possible from people with experience. That’s the case with Gonzalo, who will help us onboard in this regatta,” said skipper Martínez.

Araújo was watch leader on Telefónica Black in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 as well as being a crew member of the TP52 Bribon for two seasons and can count on vast experience in a multitude of boats and classes.

He is currently one of the crew members of the Brazilian TP52 team Phoenix which is competing in the Mapfre Copa de Rey, contested until Saturday in Palma, Majorca.

Meanwhile, following an intense on-shore body conditioning workout, Dongfeng Racing Team skipper Charles Caudrelier stressed that the round Britain and Ireland trip will be an important education.

“I think we’re going to learn a lot,” he said. “The level of the team now will be low compared with what it will be at the end of the race.

“Ultimately, I think that the best team will be the one who is ready to improve most. I guess that improvement begins here.

But ultimately, practice run as it may be, it will signal an important milestone on the Volvo Ocean Race landscape.

“Everyone will be there, except Team Brunel,” added Caudrelier. “It’s going to be a good test barrier – the game starts now.”

Team Brunel, in contrast to their rivals, have opted to continue training in their Lanzarote training base while their five rivals are in competitive action.

Skipper Bouwe Bekking says he doesn’t want to reveal his cards – yet. “We’re not going to make the competition any wiser,” he said. “Let them work it out for themselves.”

During the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race from Alicante to Cape Town starting on October 11, Team Brunel will apparently not show their hand immediately. “We will wait until we are out of sight of our opponents,” said Jens Dolmer.

Buzz Light Beer
08-11-2014, 10:18 AM
Great that Matt got on board!

Go Team Alvimedica!

08-11-2014, 10:58 AM
Go the Noble Mon!

The Flash
08-11-2014, 11:27 AM
New team to root for, go Alvimedica!

08-11-2014, 11:56 AM


Rick Tomlinson takes you up stairs for some sweet imagery of today's start!






PD Staff
08-12-2014, 09:21 AM

LICANTE, Spain – Vestas, the world’s leading wind energy company, was today announced as the seventh and final boat for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.

Six-time world champion Chris Nicholson, who will be contesting his fifth race, will skipper the boat and work is already well underway to ready the Danish company’s team for the race start in October.

“It’s an honour to be skipper of Team Vestas Wind. They have unmatched expertise in harnessing the power of wind and together we can use our knowledge to take on this challenge,” said Nicholson who has twice represented Australia in the Olympics.

Two Danes, Nicolai Sehested and Peter Wibroe, will feature in the eight-man crew. Sehested, 24, is among the youngest ever to compete from Denmark.

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad believes that Team Vestas Wind – the first ever Danish boat to enter the race – is a perfect fit. “Vestas is a global company which is completely focused on wind energy and making the world a cleaner place for generations to come,” he said.


“Overall, I’m delighted that we will have seven teams on the start line, all racing the brand new Volvo Ocean 65 one-design boats, a concept that was introduced only two years ago.”

Vestas has built up a powerful reputation for its wind technologies, products and services. It began manufacturing wind turbines in 1979 and has become a market leader in the area.

"Wind is our business and our passion. The Volvo Ocean Race is the ideal platform for us to engage with our customers, showcase our technology and strengthen our brand in some of our most important markets. This supports our new corporate strategy ‘Profitable Growth for Vestas’”, said Anders Runevad, Group President & CEO at Vestas Wind Systems.

Team Vestas Wind will join Team SCA, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Dongfeng Race Team, Team Brunel, Team Alvimedica and a Spanish team whose title sponsor has yet to be announced, on the start line.

The boat will face its first test on water in mid-August as the crew prepares to sail the 2,000 nautical miles qualifying distance, a pre-requisite of joining the Volvo Ocean Race which starts with the In-port race in Alicante on October 4.


“Some guys said they would never do it again. Silly me – I said I was sold on it right there and then."

So it is official – Chris Nicholson is back. The four-time race veteran, who skippered Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand in the last edition, will lead Team Vestas Wind, a campaign sponsored by Vestas, the world’s leading wind energy company.

With this addition, the race welcomes its seventh team, and the fleet is complete. The launch of the Danish boat is imminent – work started weeks ago to be ready on time for the first In-Port Race on October 4 in Alicante, Spain.

October 4? That’s less than two months away. That sounds a tiny bit tight to train a group for a nine-month marathon around the world.

“We’ll get two weeks of sailing before the start,” says Chris bluntly. “It’s unheard of. Most teams will have done at least six times the amount of miles we've done at the start.”

The boat will not face its first test on water until mid-August, as the crew prepares to sail the compulsory 2,000 nautical miles qualifying distance. But that hasn't dampened the enthusiasm of the skipper.

“There is no doubt that we want to win. How we are realistic about that is the problem we’ve got to tackle.”

Chris’ face is an interesting mix of kindness and determination. He adds: “We are looking to build throughout the course of the race, and I have no doubt we will. It’s a very clear and open thought process that we have within the team.”

“If we said “we want to win Leg 1”, that would probably be the surest way to have a shocker. We need to have a consistent result in the first leg. If we can manage a mid-fleet position in the first leg, that would be good.”

Two Danes, Nicolai Sehested and Peter Wibroe, will feature in the eight-man crew. The rest of the crew remains to be announced. Sehested, 24, is among the youngest from his country to have competed in the race.

“We are going to have good guys who know the story, who know how hard it is,” adds the skipper, who has twice represented Australia in the Olympics. “We will get there – it will just take us a little bit longer.”

No matter the obstacles, the timeline or the challenges ahead, Chris is a tough one, a proven leader who fought all the way to the second place with Camper in 2011-12.

“He is one of those guys who does this race because he really loves being out there, fighting in the ocean, going long, and fast, and hard,” adds Knut Frostad, the race CEO.


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PD Staff
08-12-2014, 09:38 AM

Teeth are chattering. Eyes are blood shot. Bodies are aching. When we do have the chance to sleep, it is in bursts.

It's nearly 0600 and except for a few naps during the night, Team SCA has been up for 24hrs. "It's tiring," Annie said. "And the boys are sailing fast. But, by no means, are we even thinking about giving up”.

"At the moment, it's pretty much a drag race for all of us but definitely for us," Libby said. Fortunately, Libby pointed out there is also a high pressure moving in about 200 miles away, is near the Shetland Islands, where we might make some gains.


It is definitely a drag race, except instead of car fumes and peel out smoke, it is wind and waves, lots of waves. The waves are pretty unreal: walls of white water, nearly reaching the first spreader that come flying over the deck. Some crash over the cockpit filling it like a bathtub. Others seemingly leap over the boat altogether and come fully down on the four girls on deck. One wave completely knocked Annie off her feet as she trimmed the main; only after the grinders were trimming the sail back to life did Annie climb back to her feet again. Even virtually under water, the girls are working incredibly, hard to make up for lost miles.

To date, this is the most sustained wind and seas we have seen over a 24 hour period ever (our top wind speed to date is 47kts during a squall). This is great for learning more about the boat and ourselves in these conditions. It has a been a fast and wet first 24hours, and as we reach the top of the course, with the low pressure moving out and the high pressure moving in Libby is expecting a beautiful sunset as we race around the top of Great Britain.

- See more at: http://teamsca.com/blog/day-2-the-fast-and-the-furious#sthash.Tyu3cdWc.dpuf

************************************************** ******


It seems all we do on this boat is go fast and life now is no different: wet, loud, and violently unwelcoming. First days like this really do make everything harder; particularly after an unexpected Sunday roast at the pub!

Discomforts aside, the real issue is the English obstacle course. We’re avoiding wind farms, oil rigs, commercial traffic, and having to observe shipping lanes designed for boats that can motor in whichever direction they like.. We of course, cannot, and so we’re short gybing England’s congested southeast corner and in many cases spending just 10 or 15 minutes on each gybe before having to do it all over again. It’s exhausting but all we can do about it is focus on getting into our watch systems for night #1.

Amory Ross, Team Alvimedica


“What a race,” mutters Ryan Houston, who paused far too long to hide the fact that he’s basically ruined from a few short hours of sailing. Admittedly ‘Housty’ musters the voice to finish his thought: “And it’s hardly even started.”

Ryan’s pretty accurate. The big low-pressure system named Bertha blew through overnight and cleared the way for our postponed start to go off without a hitch. That doesn’t mean it was any easier. We’ve been sailing in sustained 27-30 knot winds all day and we’re hurtling north back towards Bertha in quick downwind conditions. It seems all we do on this boat is go fast and life now is no different: wet, loud, and violently unwelcoming. First days like this really do make everything harder; particularly after an unexpected Sunday roast at the pub!


The sooner we can fall into routines the sooner we can start to rest. And rest seems to be the only thing that makes this kind of sailing any easier!



************************************************** *****


Overnight the wind increased to the high twenties to early thirties, meaning little or no sleep for the crew. Every so often, and without warning, Azzam’s bow will bite into the back of a wave sending a foaming white mass of water the length of the boat, drenching the sailors and turning the cockpit into a whirlpool bath.

If you make it to your bunk you are shaken and jolted so much that sleep can be grabbed only minutes at a time before you are shocked awake by the rapid deceleration from yet another wave impact.

- Justin Chisholm, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing


PD Staff
08-12-2014, 11:20 AM


On Board Reporter Amory Ross is feeling "horrible" as the crew encounters fierce winds and and waves but spirits remain high for Team Alvimedica on the second day of the Round Britain Race.

"This is agonizing. I feel absolutely horrible. I have never felt this way on a boat before—ever. It’s a combination of wind, waves, maybe some sort of sickness and probably, most importantly, working on my computer. The sea state is really poor and focusing on my screen is proving costly.

But the guys are doing a great job of reeling in the herd! We’re going well through the water and generally feeling great about the concept that this might be the worst of the bad weather. There’s a chance that from here on out it just gets considerably colder. Thankfully the only thing needed to overcome that is another few layers!"


all images © amory ross/alvimedica


Dirty Sanchez
08-14-2014, 07:14 PM
Suck it up princess, the Southern Ocean is gonna slap you silly!

08-19-2014, 06:31 AM

Final preparations for Vestas Wind's first taste of the water - Nicolai Sehested shares his thoughts

Cleveland Steamer
08-20-2014, 06:15 AM
Not a lot of time to work out the kinks.

Wish them luck, they are going to need it!

08-20-2014, 10:54 AM


Team Vestas Wind launched and performed the man standing on the bulb test today with great success!
It is unclear if man on the bulb performed the ALS challenge, but if he did, who do you suppose he called out?






Buzz Light Beer
08-20-2014, 11:01 AM
Rick Perry?

Angry Dolphin
08-20-2014, 11:20 AM
Can he do it from a Texas jail cell?

09-18-2014, 09:33 AM
Having been loking forward to following the adventures of local product Matt Noble of Point Richmond during the various legs of this edition of the Volvo, we were bummed to learn last week that Matt had been bumped by the return of Seb Marsset, who had not been sure he could get the time off to sail in the event. Matt remains an alternate, and with this long grueling race, there certainly remains a chance that we will see Matt during some portion of the Volvo.

Today press release from Alvimedica pretty much confimed the decision...


ALICANTE, Spain - He’s had to wait two long years but French sailor Seb Marsset finally got the news he was waiting for with a call-up to the Team Alvimedica race crew for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 first leg on Thursday.

The 29-year-old Lorient sailor had to watch from the sidelines for nine months in the last edition when he was a reserve for French boat Groupama which eventually went on to clinch the trophy in scenes of jubilation in his home port in June 2012.

He refused to give up on his dream for a first berth in the Race and grabbed a late opportunity to show his skills as a bowman/trimmer with Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright. Marsset is the only Frenchman in the Turkish/U.S. team.

"We were fortunate enough to meet him and have time to trial him on board and for the first leg he is a good fit,” says Bill Erkelens, the CEO of the Team Alvimedica campaign.

Marsset worked with Groupama for four years and as well as playing an important support role in their Volvo Ocean Race triumph of 2011-12, took part in their Tour de France à la Voile campaign last year.

He has also sailed the MOD 70s and was at the centre of Class 40 sailing between 2006 and ’09.

The young French sailor will have to wait a little longer before testing himself further on the Team Alvimedica boat.

All the one-design Volvo Ocean 65s are out of the water right now in Alicante for a compulsory 14-day maintenance period following the excitement of Leg 0 which finished at the weekend.

The work is being carried out by the Volvo Ocean Race’s Boatyard, led by Nick Bice.

“It’s good to see the real life backing up the theoretical life. The speculation has disappeared now. The teams can see that we are professionals, they pretty much leave us to their own devices to service the boats, they trust us,” he says.

Meanwhile, the sailors themselves are enjoying one final breather before the serious stuff kicks off on October 4 with the Alicante in-port race followed by the departure for Leg 1 a week later.

09-18-2014, 09:45 AM
Having been loking forward to following the adventures of local product Matt Noble of Point Richmond during the various legs of this edition of the Volvo, we were bummed to learn last week that Matt had been bumped by the return of Seb Marsset, who had not been sure he could get the time off to sail in the event. Matt remains an alternate, and with this long grueling race, there certainly remains a chance that we will see Matt during some portion of the Volvo.

Today press release from Alvimedica pretty much confimed the decision...

That blows. Hopes he get a chance to jump back onboard.

Buzz Light Beer
09-18-2014, 10:12 AM
Getting bumped after getting pumped blows. He will no doubt have plenty of opportunities in the future.

Hang in there Matt!

09-18-2014, 11:07 AM
That sucks!

Their loss........

09-18-2014, 12:54 PM
Has any Volvo team NOT tapped into their alternate list? Chances are good we will see Matt back on board. The Small Craft Advisory team hopes to visit him at a stopover (Sanya would be good!). Finger's crossed. In the meantime, back to those burpees and heavy lifting, my friend!

09-25-2014, 03:01 PM

(September 25, 2014) – NBC Sports Network, which was critically acclaimed for its 2013 coverage of the 34th America’s Cup, has signed on to provide full broadcast coverage in the U.S. of the 12th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, the world’s premier offshore sailing race. Outside Television will also air complete TV programming – in addition to full digital coverage – of the nine-month long race from October 2014-June 2015.

The race kicks off October 11, 2014 in Alicante, Spain and runs for 39 weeks until the race finish in Gothenburg, Sweden next June. During the nearly 40,000 nautical mile journey around the world, the boats will pass through Newport, RI from May 5-17, the only North American stopover of the race.

Television coverage will feature 39 half-hour sports dramas and will air primarily on late afternoon weekend slots each week on NBCSN beginning in late October, and on Outside Television with new episodes every Monday at 10:30PM EST with the program re-airing throughout the week.

NBCSN’s coverage will begin with an exciting 1.5-hour block of episodes to kick-off the race start at 1pm ET on Sunday, October 26.

“NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the Louis Vuitton Series and the 34th Americas Cup was a tremendous success and demonstrated the country’s strong appetite for sailing on television,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBCSN. “We look forward to showcasing the Volvo Ocean Race, and some of the best sailors in the world, as they cross the globe in one of the most prestigious and physically demanding races in the sport.”

Outside Television will also show a full slate of live streaming and online coverage of the race at OutsideTelevision.com that includes digital streaming of the leg starts, in-port races, news features and live look-ins with the boats.

“We feel the Volvo Ocean Race is the perfect type of event programming for Outside Television to broadcast,” said Rob Faris, SVP Programming & Production for Outside Television. “The race is all about high-adventure & the team’s experiences around the world and the programs will focus on the human stories that come with a nine month long journey. It is the premier offshore ocean race and we are thrilled to have them as partners for both our TV and Digital platforms.”

NBC partner Universal Sports will also feature Volvo Ocean Race programming and re-airs.

London-based production company Sunset+Vine, which previously produced race coverage in 2005-06 and 2008-09, will produce the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.

“We are calling this race the human edition,” said Knut Frostad, Volvo Ocean Race CEO. “We want to highlight the emotional drama and adventures of sailing around the world at these speeds. What are the sailors thinking? What are they feeling? How are they interacting in the tight quarters of their 65-foot boats while living life at the extreme over nine months.”

Each team will feature a dedicated Onboard Reporter (OBR) – a trained muulti-media specialist – who will shoot, interview and send footage back to the race headquarters in Alicante, Spain daily via satellite. Footage will be weaved and edited together with sophisticated race graphics, weather data and tracking information to craft a dramatic 30-minute show every week.

“The Volvo Ocean Race is one of the greatest challenges in sport,” said Andrew Piller, Commercial Director for Sunset+Vine, host broadcaster and distribution partner. “From the world’s most dangerous seas to some of the remotest places on Earth, the seven cameras rigged on each boat, with their on-board reporters, will take viewers to the very heart of the action sharing the journey with race participants who will become our heroes.”

Seven boats will be at the start line in October, including joint U.S.-Turkish entry Team Alvimedica from Newport, RI, featuring 29-year-old American skipper Charlie Enright (Bristol, RI).

For the first time ever in the race, all teams will use a standard one-design Volvo Ocean 65 boat purpose-built for the race, allowing the boats to be designed around the needs of television and video.

“Our boats for this race have been built from the ground up to double as floating production houses with cameras, microphones, interview locations and editing facilities onboard,” said Frostad. “It’s a true reality series like you’ve never seen. Unlike other so-called reality shows, absolutely nothing is scripted in the race.”

The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 was viewed by over 1.5 billion people worldwide, featured nearly 9,000 broadcasts globally including news pieces, and was won by French-entry Groupama.

NBCSN Volvo Ocean Race Television Schedule:
Date Event Network Time

October 26 Weeks 1-3 NBCSN 1p.m.
November 2 Week 4 NBCSN 2 p.m.
November 8 Week 5 NBCSN 3 p.m.
November 16 Week 6 NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
November 23 Week 7 NBCSN 2:30 p.m.
November 29 Week 8 NBCSN 6 p.m.
December 7 Week 9 NBCSN 4 p.m.
December 14 Week 10 NBCSN 5:30 p.m.
December 21 Week 11 NBCSN 5:30 p.m.
December 28 Week 12 NBCSN 6:30 p.m.
January 4 Week 13 NBCSN 5 p.m.
January 9 Week 14 NBCSN 6:30 p.m.
January 16 Week 15 NBCSN 11 p.m.
January 25 Week 16 NBCSN 1 p.m.
February 1 Week 17 NBCSN 5 p.m.
February 8 Week 18 NBCSN 5:30 p.m.
February 15 Week 19 NBCSN Noon
February 21 Week 20 NBCSN 1 p.m.
March 1 Week 21 NBCSN 6 p.m.
March 7 Week 22 NBCSN Noon
March 14 Week 23 NBCSN 4:30 p.m.
March 22 Week 24 NBCSN 3:30 p.m.
March 29 Week 25 NBCSN 4:30 p.m.
April 5 Week 26 NBCSN 2:30 p.m.
April 11 Week 27 NBCSN 12:30 p.m.
April 19 Week 28 NBCSN 2:30 p.m.
April 25 Week 29 NBCSN 6 p.m.
May 3 Week 30 NBCSN 4 p.m.
May 9 Week 31 NBCSN 3:30 p.m.
May 17 Week 32 NBCSN 4 p.m.
May 23 Week 33 NBCSN 4:30 p.m.
May 31 Week 34 NBCSN 1 p.m.
June 7 Week 35 NBCSN 4 p.m.
June 14 Week 36 NBCSN 3:30 p.m.
June 21 Week 37 NBCSN 4 p.m.
June 28 Week 38 NBCSN 1 p.m.
July 5 Week 39 NBCSN 7:30

************************************************** **********

WESTPORT, Conn. (September 25, 2014) – Starting this fall Outside Television will once again set sail to the Volvo Ocean Race, the world's toughest sailing event in which the elite of the profession battle it out on the most treacherous oceans. Welcoming viewers to their vision of a world that is 70 percent covered by water and only 5 percent explored, seven international sailing teams of modern Magellans will be profiled in this intimate series.

The world’s longest sporting event, the race is a nine-month marathon on the seas, passing through four oceans and five continents. Since 1973 the race has served as an exceptional test of sailing prowess and human endeavor where the athletes push themselves to the limit of endurance in what is commonly referred to as the ‘Everest of Sailing’. The network will broadcast the race as a part of its Life at the Extreme documentary series. Starting Monday, October 13 at 10:30 p.m. EST, the Life at the Extreme series will premiere with new episodes every Monday for 39 consecutive weeks. Re-airs of each week’s episode will run throughout the week.

“This is one of the world’s ultimate sporting challenges and we’re pleased to see it return to Outside Television,” said Rob Faris, Senior VP, Programming and Production at Outside Television. “The Volvo Ocean race is a remarkable event and the series captures the real adventure and human drama that unfolds during the nine months of racing.”

The race will start from Alicante, Spain October 4 and finish in Gothenburg, Sweden June 27 of next year competing over 70,000 kilometers in some of the world’s most hostile and remote environments. Over the duration of the race, the seven race crews experience life at the extreme: no fresh food is taken on board so they live off freeze-dried food. Competitors experience temperature variations from 5 to +104 degrees Fahrenheit and only take one change of clothes with them on board.

The Volvo Ocean Race is the first of several new longform programs to roll out from Outside Television this fall. Faris noted that Outside Television viewers can expect more in-depth looks at world-class events in the future.

09-25-2014, 08:42 PM
Saved! It's about time, hope it's not just reruns of youtube footage!

PD Staff
10-07-2014, 11:25 AM

A concise breakdown of the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race in under 4 Minutes!

PD Staff
10-09-2014, 07:56 AM

"I got to sail with Sam Davies and Team CSA today for a training sail in Alicante, Spain a few days before the start of the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race. They needed to test all eight sails before their journey to Cape Town Saturday. Not much wind at all but still lots of fun. You can tell that this crew has been training together for a long time and for many days, They are well oiled very quiet quick team. I don't think I have ever been on such a quiet boat, I think they can read each other's minds. I guess that what happens when you log over 400 days and 25,000 practice miles together. They had a special guest on board, Spanish race car championship driver Marta Suria. Marta will be jumping off the stern of SCA after the start of Leg 1 on Saturday. She actually drove a good part of the day and did a nice job. We didn't hit one guard rail."

Leighton O'Connor / All Rights Reserved

10-10-2014, 11:02 AM


No shortage of info flowing from Volvo HQ in Alicante, including info on what individuals
have in their personal kit bags... Here's a couple well done compliations to get you motivated for tomorrows start of Leg One!

PD Staff
10-11-2014, 10:22 AM




ALICANTE, Spain, October 11 – The seven-strong fleet of the 12th Volvo Ocean Race raced out of Alicante on Saturday for the punishing first leg to Cape Town on Saturday with rains and strong winds forecast to greet them in the opening eight hours.

Team Brunel took the honours after the fleet bade farewell to a memorable Alicante nine-day stopover before heading out to the Mediterranean, through the Straits of Gibraltar and then into the Atlantic during the first week of a nine-month, 38,739-mile marathon.

Skippered by Bouwe Bekking, the Dutch boat headed the seven-strong fleet out of the Spanish coastal city which hosts the Race HQ and has given the 66 sailors competing in Leg 1 an incredible send-off with tens of thousands visiting the Race Village every day.

They were hotly pursued by both Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and MAPFRE.


All images © Gilles Martin Raget



Memories of the last “salida” (departure) from Alicante will still be fresh for many – Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Sanya were forced to limp back to shore with crippling damage within 24 hours after an opening night storm in the Med wrought early havoc.

There’s no such carnage predicted this time but Race meteorologist Gonzalo Infante suggested it will be “messy” from about 2200 local time (2000 UTC) on the first leg when rains are likely to drench the fleet and winds could pick up to around 20 knots.

Traditionally, boats who have won Leg 1 have gone on to win the entire race but Groupama bucked that trend in 2011-12 when they finished last of only three boats who managed to complete the 6,487 miles to Cape Town.

The French team, led by Franck Cammas, took time to get into their stride but eventually emerged as deserved winners by the time the fleet reached their home port of Lorient, the penultimate stopover.

Another close race is predicted again for 2014-15, especially with the new one-design Volvo Ocean 65 levelling the playing field, but for the 50,000 or so who packed the Alicante Race Village to wave the fleet on their way, the event has already proved a winner.

First to cross the start: Team Brunel.
Team Vestas Wind was over early and had to go back.

Order at the last mark:
1. Team Brunel
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
4. Team Alvimedica
5. Dongfeng Race Team
6. Team Vestas Wind
7. Team SCA

PD Staff
10-12-2014, 02:51 PM
The 2014-2015 is in the middle of its 2nd night and reports and photos are trickling in. Nothing dramatic as of yet and the teams are settling into thier routines as they approach Gibralter and eject from the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic. The Volvo Ocean Race Website (http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/home.html) takes some getting used to, and finding information is a bit daunting, but once you navigate safely to the "DASH BOARD" (http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/dashboard.html) and then onto the Tracker (http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/virtualeye.html) (Download Required) you can start getting a feel for the acual progress.

The Watch Log (http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/watchlog.html) will provide some short concise info on how the race is progressing.

And the Blogs From Boats (http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/news/7815_From-the-boats.html) will actually keep you up to date as long as the OBR stays on board and is able to get some quality keyboard time!

Smooth sailing – that’s what we call it. The sea is dead flat and the wind, light. The air is warm and so is the sea. The Spanish coast in the background, the seven boats make good progress. Gibraltar is only 100 nautical miles away – so far it’s been an easy Mediterranean exit.

Photo: Matt Knighton - Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

One fact though. The seven boats are only one nm from each other.
And just that number says it all. It hasn’t been a rough, wet and windy leg start, there has been no breakage, no injury, no extremes. The wind reached 20 knots in the Alboran Sea before dropping completely.

The intensity, though, the demands on the sailors have been just the same.
“I feel every muscle in my body,” says Gerd-Jan Poortman from Team Brunel’s bow. “Hoist the sail up, take it sail down and up again, then down again. Stack to the front and to the back of the boat.”

Everyone manoeuvres constantly to make the most of the shifty conditions, changing sails to optimise boat speed. The crew hardly sleeps. The seven navigators obsess over their weather files, discuss, try and pick the best route.

Photo by Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team

Take Team Vestas Wind, for example. During a weather change last night, they took the risk to sail closer to the coast. And it paid – they gained, and took the lead.
But being in the lead doesn’t mean much right now.

“Every bit of dirty air, every little puff, every little nuance can make you change positions,” smiles Ian Walker, enjoying “some good one-design racing,” he says.
Nobody would risk splitting from the group at this stage. So they all stay in sight of each other, watching the competition through binoculars, taking a nap on deck as best they can.

“It was a busy night of rain, tacks, limited rest and little time to think,” writes Amory Ross, the reporter on Team Alvimedica. “Maybe when we get to open ocean, away from the other boats, it will sink in.”

That route will take them through the Strait of Gibraltar tonight in moderate conditions before finally facing the open ocean – the Atlantic. Dreams of trade winds and offshore life. 20 plus days out there, surfing down the waves. Coming soon.

The new 3D view takes some getting used to.


"This is the beginning of something much more significant and we will all come to grips with that reality in our own ways, and at our own pace. I have been so busy, so stressed with the little things that needed doing—with other work, with bills, final emails to friends—generally taking care of things that once we’ve left the dock have to survive without me for 26 days. Do you think you could prepare your life for an absolute absence of four weeks? No cell phone, no Internet, no address? Liberating and terrifying at the same time."

Amory Ross, OBR
Team Alvimedica


Photo by Brian Carlin / Team Vestas Wind

"I was standing on the dock with my team and the crowds were shouting. It was like a switch was flipped. I suddenly realized I wasn’t coming back to this port, town and the people I got to know so well in Volvo HQ. Some I wont see again until the end of the race. How bizzare how one can protect oneself from the overwhelming feelings of leaving on a race such as this, alas it will always catch up.
"I think our crew were focused, goodbyes and departure over. “Over” was a key word for the day, an all too keen crew pushed a little too much pre race but the penalty didn’t set us back to badly. As navigator Wouter Verbraak put it; ;It doesn’t matter, this isn’t an In Port Race. It’s a race to Cape Town.' When you hear it like that, being over early wasn’t too bad."

Brian Carlin, OBR
Team Vestas Wind


“All day long the fleet has changed places requiring Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to choreograph constant sail changes and careful manoeuvering so as to not bleed miles to the competition. The combined experience of the ADOR crew has shown all day as they all have been on deck pushing Azzam as fast as possible. As a matter of fact, right now at 0500 hrs, is the first time anyone has gotten a chance to sleep.

“With thundershowers throughout the night the intense lightning lit up all the sail changes on deck as the tacking battle for optimal position consumed every ounce of to ADOR sailor’s energy.

"An hour ago the bright moonlight broke through the clouds over a flat Mediterranean. We can now see 5 bright lights evenly spaced behind us. We’ve become the hunted and it’s not a 25-day race to Cape Town anymore; it’s a 1-day sprint to Gibraltar and the trade winds of the North Atlantic Ocean.”

Matt Knighton, OBR
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

IOR Geezer
10-12-2014, 07:18 PM
Thank you for deciphering, the Volvo site was making me dizzy!

10-12-2014, 07:31 PM

Team SCA goes non conventional and scores large....

Bitchin Bow Dude
10-12-2014, 07:33 PM
F-in Brilliant!

10-12-2014, 08:21 PM

Charlie Tuna
10-12-2014, 08:22 PM

Dont over think it it guys!

Conan the Librarian
10-13-2014, 07:15 AM


nice slide show of start

PD Staff
10-13-2014, 09:32 AM



PD Staff
10-13-2014, 09:35 AM

We’re currently transiting the Straits of Gibraltar, the Mediterranean’s western entrance and exit, and it’s dawned on us that in doing so we are about to sail into our first ocean of this “Ocean Race”--the North Atlantic. Everyone’s excited for some open water, but not just in the romantic horizon-chasing sense; I think the underlying challenge we’ve had so far is with sleep management. A lot of the guys are running on 4-5 hours of rest a day and getting away from headlands, ship traffic, and volatile land-driven weather will go a long way to helping us fall into our much-needed racing routines.

As Will suggested, it’s going to be a very long race if it’s spent within sight of the entire fleet. These last two days have been exhausting in that every second of the watch you need only look around you to analyze your performance. You know in real time when you’re sailing the boat the right (or wrong) way and you don’t need to wait six hours for a sched to find out. That kind of constant feedback comes with advantages and disadvantages and I think at this stage the guys are happy to benefit from more “testing,” and the opportunity to try new things in light upwind conditions we haven’t seen much of, with the added value of seeing it’s instant effect in relation to the fleet. There will be lots of time for sleep in the future…

So that’s it. We’re now officially out of the Med and into the Atlantic. And for those onboard still in doubt--or maybe waiting for reality to sink in--it’s impossible to ignore the obvious signs: we are finally looking south!

Amory Ross

Team Alvimedica

PD Staff
10-13-2014, 09:42 AM

VNR - Team SCA separated from the pack and crossed first the Strait of Gibraltar

ALICANTE, Spain, Oct 13 – Team SCA, the first all-female crew to take part in the Volvo Ocean Race for more than a decade, took a surprise lead sailing into the Atlantic early on day three after a bold move by their navigator Libby Greenhalgh paid dividends.

Sunday saw the opening major tactical gamble as Team SCA took the risky option to cross the Strait of Gibraltar via a northern route, while the rest of fleel sailed closer to Morocco and the Spanish city of Ceuta, on the African continent.

The Swedish-backed crew crossed the Strait in the lead around 0540UTC (0740 CEST).


“Everyone except us were going the southerly route through the Strait and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why,” said British navigator Greenhalgh. “We wanted to stay with the fleet but we also wanted to stick with our plan – and our plan has us sailing north.”

The crew had to wait for their next position report, four hour later, to learn they took the lead with some 21 nautical miles clear of their rivals.

“The team collectively hooted and hollered for joy as Libby told us we were ahead,” related their onboard reporter, Corinne Halloran. “Our risk paid off big time and we are now officially sailing in the Atlantic Ocean.”

However, 20 minutes after reaching the Atlantic ocean, the wind decreased, Team SCA stopped progessing and their competitors started to catch up.

By 0730UTC (0930 CEST), the seven Volvo Ocean Race boats completed the Mediterranean section of the race and are now heading for Canary Islands.

Will SCA’s option give the "Magenta Boat" an edge in the Atlantic Ocean? Will they pick up the trade winds first and speed up in the lead? Time will tell.


1. Team Vestas Wind - Distance to Cape Town 6 138,4nm
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing - 2.3nm from the leader
3. Team Alvimedica - 3.9nm from the leader
4. Dongfeng Race Team - 6.3nm from the leader
5. Team SCA - 6.6nm from the leader
6. Team Brunel - 7.7nm from the leader
7. MAPFRE - 13.8nm from the leader

PD Staff
10-14-2014, 09:41 AM


There was absolutely nothing charming about night number three. All of that talk about the reality of the race setting in, leaving the med this and that--the biggest challenge we have had so far was in making it through the night. A malicious front that has turned out to more aggressive, less predictable, and last much longer than anticipated—particularly its sea state—has left us licking our wounds a bit in these early hours of the morning. As Dave Swete acknowledged, “35 knots, upwind—yep. Feels like the Volvo to me.” Even Ryan Houston admitted that this had been a “proper touch-up,” a standard not easily (or pleasantly) met.


above images © amory ross/ team alvimedica



Theatrics aside, everyone has taken the opportunity to fall into their respective heavy-air roles and I think it’s best to get these bashings out of the way early. We always seem to come out stronger as a team and everyone’s aware that our inexperience shows most at the weather’s extremes. But it is also where we have the most to learn, and there have been some mistakes to analyze when the dust settles. Charlie gave a quick synopsis before I sat down to write: “We’re managing, still in the peloton after a massive mistake so all good, cant ask for much more.” He’s referring to a costly sail call that left us with the smaller J3 in the air for too long, when we should have been going faster on the larger J2. A midnight sail change to rectify the problem and we’re off again in chase of the leaders. Lesson learned, and we’ll get the miles back so nobody’s too fussed.

Next up are the Canary Islands and an inside track along the northwestern coast of Africa. New territory for all of us and it should be exciting once the sun comes up! But for now everyone’s just trying to take care of each other and the boat, and I will borrow Charlie’s signoff in that I can’t ask for much more than that.

************************************************** ****************************



What a difference a day makes.

Just yesterday, this race was all about searching for the big breeze – today, it’s all about surviving in it.
If the boats had been tempted to say a little prayer to the weather gods as they stumbled and slowed in the light winds of the Gibraltar Strait ,

then they might want to be careful what they wish for in future.
Storms and rain battered and bruised the hulls of the boats, soaking skin and stinging eyes – and the sailors were left breathless and weary after a long night of wrestling the waves.

“You know you’re in trouble when you see all red on the charts,” says Team Vestas Wind tired navigator Wouter nervously, bleary eyes blinking and squinting in the warm, emergency glow of his computer screen.

And it was all red. Red enough to highlight his faded, fatigued face and his lips, giving extra weight and emphasis to his words. Alongside his skipper Chris Nicholson, he has hardly slept a wink. Well, there’s no time to rest.

As the teams escaped the Med and spilled into the Atlantic Ocean, they were given an instant, sharp reminder of the perils of offshore life.
“What’s pretty amazing is that we’ve seen everything today - dead calm, a water spout, a steady breeze, and a full on frontal system,” Team SCA’s Libby Greenhalgh says.

Just 72 hours into Leg 1, and the teams have already been through the ringer. Offshore, the weather can change at the drop of a hat – or should that be the blow of a hat.
After all, the fleet was ravaged and wrecked by whistling and wicked winds of over 30 knots, rain relentlessly knocking at the door, and jagged seas chopping and changing.

Libby’s team mate, OBR Corinna, admits that life onboard is twice as difficult now. “New bruises and aches show up, our stomachs aren’t 100%, and we’re all somewhat exhausted.”
Maybe the extreme conditions were a not-so-subtle nudge from nature. A show of who’s boss.


Yann Riou/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race

One thing’s for sure, if the teams were beginning to get comfortable, complacent, or having delusions of power, that has just been knocked right out of them.

Reality hits – and it hits hard. Time and time again, whacking and kicking and pummeling the boat.

Spanish boat MAPFRE “didn’t sleep for the third consecutive day”, writes OBR Francisco, and his inability to produce a meal due to the restless weather has seen the crew existing solely on cereal and protein bars.
But nevertheless, enthusiasm isn’t dampened. In truth, it's probably the only thing that isn't.

All of the sailors have embraced the conditions, as the teams tack south towards the Canaries. This is what they’re here to do.
“We just had a bit of bad wind swell,” says Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker, all business as usual, without taking his eyes off the competition for a second. “But we’ve closed 0.4 miles on Vestas.”

It sounds almost easy, but don't let his calmness fool you. Aussie bowman Luke Parkinson winces and examines his hand at the other end of the boat, he can certainly feel the full extent of his teams' efforts.

Meanwhile, the crystal waves continue to crash over the carbon-fibre deck of Dongfeng – drenching the crew who are slipping and sliding over a sail change.

Frenchman Eric Peron takes shelter, every hair on his head soaked. “It’s really tough,” he says, out of breath and taking in the carnage around him. Then, a knowing smile. “Life at the extreme, I guess.”

And just across the water, Team Alvimedica’s Dave Swete, whose Team Sanya boat didn’t even make it this far in Leg 1 of the last edition, chuckles with disbelief as he checks the wind speed. “35 knots upwind? Yep. Feels like a Volvo to me!”

10-15-2014, 09:54 AM
Like ducks in a row we march south towards the Canary Islands. Rather unexpectedly, the binoculars continue to be our primary means of recon rather than the position reports. I’m not sure one “sched” has been read aloud to date; there’s no need when you can see everyone with your own eyes. The obvious question is how that’s driving the tactics, and as we roll into another jibe here—our third in the last hour of this busy night—it’s clear the answer is a lot. We are racing the fleet, tack for tack, jibe for jibe, and it is incredibly tiring for the guys. I’d say that’s the general mindset onboard right now: exhausted, begging for a rhythm, but really excited to be in the hunt. One watch you’re up, the next you’re down. Patience and consistency are going to be key for this mini-race through the Canary and Verde islands where the corridor of travel is quite narrow.

Quote Charlie Enright

“It’s good for us. The longer we stay together the more time we get to experiment different modes. High or low, different sail combinations… The more we can compare speeds, the more we can learn.”

All of the comparison to past races, to the last race in particular, of course it makes you think. Yesterday, in the remnants of the night’s nastiness, my new boots—notoriously slippery with fresh rubber and chemicals on the sole—failed me. As I was coming down the hatch, one hand on my camera the other on the hanging strap from the ceiling, my feet lost their grip. All of my weight on my shoulder, it dislocated (as it does too often, an old ice hockey injury), I let go, and landed, awash in the bilge. Camera saved, I put my shoulder back in its place and then started bailing that bilge and the rest of the boat for the next hour. Never told anyone. Not that I would ever feel sorry for myself, but I chose to come back here for more and at that moment I started to wonder why.
Yesterday passed just fine but last night’s sunset was as good as ever. Everybody noticed it, and Dave quietly acknowledged that this race gives you “just enough of them to keep bringing you back.” As I rattled off some 300-pictures in 20 minutes of intense orange sunset-fed obsession, I looked around and realized I was back doing something that made me really happy; why would I want to be anywhere else? The friends you make, the ways you challenge yourself—we all give up a lot to be here—sometimes it’s a shoulder, other times a family. But for most of us it’s ultimately worth it in the end. I left Alicante ready for weeks of sailing to Cape Town, but I think the reality of being a part of this great Race again is finally setting in.

Amory Ross
Team Alvimedica

Onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Photo by Matt Knighton/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race


Photo by Francisco Vignale/MAPFRE/Volvo Ocean Race.


Dave Swete and Nick Dana are in on a joke that nobody else seems to be privy to; humor is an essential part to life onboard, especially when the weather turns for the worse. Photo by Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race.


Xabi Fernandez and Andre Fonseca silhouettes sailing on a golden sunrise. Francisco Vignale/MAPFRE/Volvo Ocean Race.

It's important to keep fresh water on your face to stop the build up of salt. Photo by Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind/Volvo Ocean Race.



Today was a special day. Not only are we all sailing together as a fleet—and pushing each other as a fleet—down the West Coast of Africa after an unexpected great day of sailing, but it’s also day four of leg 1. [Technically, it’s day three for everyone on land but four for us on the boat because we count the first day off as day one—this is really important for food bag ordering.] Day four is incredibly special because we begin to finally fall into a rhythm and a daily life.

Our body begins to get used to sleeping in bursts—two hours at most, despite our four hours on/ four hours off schedule. A few of the sailors noted they haven’t had a full “off watch,” because they’ve been woken up because of a tack, sail change, or both at least once every time they tried to go to sleep. Obviously this can do a number on your body, and for a while your body feels like it’s fighting your mind every step of the way. And then, as if a light bulb finally switches ‘on’ for your body: you begin to feel comfortable sleeping in short bursts and operating on little amounts of sleep. Today, that light bulb turned on.

Today, the crew have stopped harassing Libby for any new information about the fleet because everyone knows the “scheds” arrive at 1:15am/pm and 7:15am/pm.

Today, we all began to adjust to the life of freeze-dried food and power bars. Today’s dinner is our favorite: Thai Green Chicken Curry. Today, I ate my last fresh orange for twenty more days. The orange wasn't even that good but I savored every bite nonetheless, and hoped I would not drop the last slice into the sea.

Today, was a good day to use our TENA shower glove. If there's one massive advantage Team SCA has over the other teams, it's this: a shower. Ok so there's no running fresh water and our hair is sticking straight back but to feel clean after a few days of salt and sweat is an indescribable joy. It's also a good day to change clothes and check your body for any bumps, bruises, and rashes that might cause infection down the line.

Today, we also saw dolphins. And we sailed by Team Mapfre so close we were able to say hello—quite friendly considering. I reckon they’re having just as good a day as us. After all, there’s something special about day four.

Corinna Halloran

Ob Board Blogs (http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/news/7815_From-the-boats.html)

Dash Board (http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/dashboard.html)

10-15-2014, 02:19 PM

The very first episode of our weekly show - Life at the Extreme - your best way to join the adventure and share the exhilarating and demanding experience of competitive sailing, around the world!

PD Staff
10-16-2014, 10:41 AM

OCTOBER 16, 2014

Broken dreams we live with, a broken boat we cannot! After the night we got a thrashing from, things were not working as expected.

It began when Wouter discovered the AIS wasn’t working on the navigation laptop. As mentioned in a previous blog the spare/performance laptop took a swim and is no longer with us. The sea state was still rather rough so we started from the bottom up, problem solving.

All the base units appear to work fine. The only possible answer and it was still a little speculative, “has the aerial fallen off?” Well, Tom was sent up the rig as soon as conditions allowed. It was a confirmed “YES” - the aerial was gone. Chris “imagine how far it got sent, its probably speared someone in Spain.” Trae said “I definitely wouldn’t want to be an aerial last night, or a windex” as he smiled looking up at the top of the mast.

Then the issues continued, the hydraulics for the canting keel were not pushing to its maximum angle of 40 degrees. Chris had emails and phone calls all day long to rectify the issue, which I believe we have got to the bottom of. We also had a number of serious leaks, the major one on the pedestal buttons that killed Wouter's laptop. Nicolai spent several hours with a tube of Sikaflex sealing late yesterday.

Brian Carlin, OBR
Team Vestas Wind





The crew work in watch systems, these watches mean everyone has a rota of four hours on and four hours off, but when the racing is so close and there are many manoeuvres the off period can mean less than a couple of hours sleep as the crew work hard to keep the boat sailing as fast as possible


Day 5: Team Alvimedica tells us about the watch system onboard - four hours on, four hours off...well, kind of. Although the team is supposed to have four hours off watch to catch up on sleep, eat, change, and take care of personal hygiene, there doesn't seem to be much time to do these things in between all the jibes. Somehow they are still finding a way to "maintain the intensity" and grind all day and all night



Just like any of the crew, Wolf is recovering slowly from the three first days that have been extremely demanding in terms of physical effort and lack of sleep. He took the opportunity today to rest a little bit, to wash himself, to eat properly, but he is now realising how hard this race could be.

“My dream was to do the Volvo Ocean race and I am now living my dream, but this is different from what I imagined. After these three first days, I am now wondering if this dream could potentially be a nightmare…”

Yann Riou, OBR

Dongfeng Race Team

Go to team website: http://www.dongfengraceteam.cn/

Today we went to school. Penthouse to the outhouse, we lost a ton of miles—heaps—and by large everyone was very aware of it all the time. But the challenges of the last 24 hours are already being viewed as a chance to improve; that quality is going to be one of this team’s biggest assets moving forward.

Charlie has been keeping a sailing log, specific enough that after the crazy couple of cloud-driven, unpredictably random days of weather weirdness—conditions that reward patience and luck more so than your ability to physically sail a boat well through the water—he recorded his optimism: “Day four, happy to return to expected gradient sailing where we can start to actually sail the boat.” Charlie’s next log entry reads something along the lines of “And we’re extremely slow.”

Amory Ross, OBR

Team Alvimedica

Go to team website: http://teamalvimedica.tumblr.com/

The crew has been living at the bow for more than 48 hours now, because of the light airs. We are nine, in a very small space, with all of our things, smells and snoring.

There are many repairs to do onboard after the bashing the 30 knots upwind gave us. One of the most important ones is fixing the “outrigger” that we broke in half by mistake, sails on deck, and repairs inside “our home”. We’re making arrangements for the life to be easier in there, though there is nothing comfortable about it.

Francisco Vignale, OBR


Go to team website: http://desafiomapfre.com/

Always learning. It’s what we do. And we did a lot of it today.

It’s remarkable how compressed the seven Volvo Ocean 65s are at this point in the race. Race veterans can’t believe it. Onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, the guys are just now starting their normal sleep rhythms after spending the first three nights of the race with no rest.

Still, there’s little chance to relax when your competition is only a few miles away. Bright lights on the horizon.

Matt Knighton, OBR

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Go to team website:https://www.facebook.com/AbuDhabiOceanRacing

The excitement of mail arriving doesn’t change out here in the least. In fact, it’s probably amplified out here: 6,000nm from Cape Town and only five days out from Alicante on a 65-foot boat.

Yesterday, Sophie came running out on deck and exclaimed: “I got mail!!” The email was four sentences long but her face beaming. “I didn’t expect anyone out here to email me, this is awesome,” she said.

Corinna Halloran, OBR

Team SCA

Go to team website: http://www.teamsca.com/

Charlie Tuna
10-16-2014, 10:48 AM
Dongfeng leading? Whodathunk it?

This one design thing seems to be working very well!

Dutch Rudder
10-16-2014, 11:55 AM
The last couple cycles were certainly more of the haves and have nots.

Carl Spackler
10-16-2014, 01:29 PM
I wonder if volvo offer roadside assistance to its boats still under warranty?

PD Staff
10-18-2014, 10:02 AM
Horace trims the main on Dongfeng Photo by Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team



“We now have the spare rudder in. It was a really great effort from the whole team and I am actually quite proud of us doing that.”
“But… of course we aren’t first anymore.”

In true Swedish style, Martin Strömberg never gives anything away. But Dongfeng’s trimmer is frustrated – his team was in the lead yesterday evening, and lost it overnight.

But only because the Chinese boat hit an unidentified object: one of their rudders broke and they had to replace it, giving Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing the opportunity to overtake them.


Photo by Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team



“At 0210 UTC, Thomas Rouxel was driving when we hit something,” writes Onboard Reporter Yann Riou in a report sent shortly after the incident.

“The impact was violent. We didn't know what we hit. We checked the windward runner, we started to check the keel, and we wiped out.”

“Then we realised the leeward rudder was gone.”
Thomas said he flew from the steering wheel at the impact. The crew checked if water was coming in before gybing.

“We had two options,” explains Yann. “Installing the emergency rudder, or removing what was left of the old rudder, and putting the new one in place. We decided to go for the second option.”

“We prepared the rudder, we furled the A3, took it down and dropped the mainsail. At that moment, we saw Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing passing next to us (…).”

“Thomas put the diving suit on. He jumped into the water. Kevin was in the aft compartment, and the rest of the crew on deck. We removed what was left from the old rudder (not much), and we put the new one in place.”

“We hoisted the main and the A3, we gybed, and we unfurled the A3. We are now sailing at 20 knots.”

At 1252 UTC, the Dongfeng guys were in second position, only five nautical miles behind Abu Dhabi.

That’s a quick turnaround, but it doesn’t make that setback easier to acknowledge.

“It is not easy to accept these kinds of things, when they happen,” says skipper Charles Caudrelier.

“We are all disappointed. It doesn’t seem very fair, but there is nothing to do about this…” concludes Yann.

That’s when his Chinese team mate Horace comes in to cheer him up.

“Working as a team, we were able to solve the problem, which I believe made us even stronger and more united. Together we tried our best, solved this problem and went back in the game immediately. We are looking forward to being in the competition!”

Racing extremely close to the African coast certainly has its risks – the fleet came within half a mile of the Saharan beaches.


Onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing: Justin Slattery, Daryl Wisland, and Phil Harmer guiding "Azzam" through light and shifty winds. Photo by Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Abu Dhabi are now leading but they also reported narrowly missing a net yesterday afternoon. The wind was light and their speed low, so they managed to avoid it.

Team Brunel even had to send a crew into the water to dive down and remove a strip of rubber from their keel.

Team SCA also showed an irregular track – the girls ran into a fishing net, which didn’t help them catch up with the rest of the fleet.


But the seven boats are now sailing away from the coast and its dangers, and heading west. Finally in the trade winds, enjoying 20+ knots of wind speed, they are surfing down towards the Cape Verde Islands.

Time to crank up this ocean race.


Onboard Team Vestas Wind: Tom Johnson climbs the rig before the sunset to see if there still is a VHF aerial on the mast during day 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Photo by Brian Carlin / Team Vestas Wind


Antonio 'Ñeti' Cuervas-Mons doing maintance on the winch. Photo by Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE

PD Staff
10-18-2014, 11:37 AM

The one design boat is helping to keep things interesting and helping to keep the boats close together in the Volvo Ocean Race. As a result the team needs to have 100% concentration at all times. Constantly adjusting trim, focusing on the course, and keeping a lookout for the competition's tactics is what keeps you in the game.

Blog update 10/18

There’s nothing like filling the void of a difficult day with some trade wind sailing. Yesterday was a tough one: we came out on the losing end of quite a few gambles and fell far off the lead pack, but the boys have bounced back well and the mood on deck in these near-perfect conditions has returned to one of humor and laughs.

It was the first time I’ve seen the group visibly bummed about a sched or two, and maybe it’s because everything has been so easy to see with all of the boats in sight. And all of a sudden they were not, we were alone, and Charlie came up to say that it was the first time since we left Alicante that no one was visible on AIS, the proximity-based vessel tracking software. So we took our medicine, rejoined the fleet from the back of the line, and they have been grinding hard to make up the miles ever since.

The fun sailing has helped for sure. It’s our first time seeing anything more than an occasional 16 knots since getting pasted by the low-pressure system, and the sustained twenties are a clear indication that the NE trade winds have arrived! These are the sailing days you will remember forever--beautiful downwind VMG running at 24 knots in wind and water that only continue to warm. It’s sailing perfection. But we’re rapidly making up the miles to the Cape Verdes, and then it’s on to the Doldrums and the Equator where variability and instability return to rule the roost. The closer we can get to the leaders before then the better—we want to make sure we don’t miss their window--so it’s hammer down for now!

PD Staff
10-18-2014, 11:46 AM

There's an age old saying: expect the unexpected. It pretty much sums up offshore sailing • Posted on October 18, 2014

However, there is also a degree of dealing with the expected. And there is a slight dance to be had-- to not be too shocked by either spectrum of a situation, and to handle all events with grace and control.

Yesterday, for the first time in six days, we sailed alone. In previous Volvo Ocean Races this was the norm - head out of Alicante and not regroup until Cape Town, sail alone for three weeks. But so far, with all the boats the same, all of the boats have been sailing together which is not only amazing to watch but it is also amazing for the crew as we push ourselves that much harder. Alone, the other six boats are just virtual dots on a computer screen-- much like the Volvo Ocean Race computer game.


At the moment, our goal is to get through our first rough patch so that we do catch back up. Sam and Libby sit at the navigation station for hours plotting a plan that will get us back in the ring as soon as possible. For hours they watch the weather systems, our boats, and the potential trackers, and then make their decision based on all the controllable factors.

However, all of their hard work and focus still doesn't help the expected sting and disappointment of receiving the next position report (aka sked). There's an element of hope that maybe, just maybe, for the last six hours some miracle did happen. Except miracles don't happen every day and the two girls braced themselves for the sting a few times yesterday. Nonetheless, as expected, both Sam and Libby receive the news with grace and devise the next plan of attack.

images © Corinna Halloran /Team SCA

By no means are we admitting any defeat. As one fan said: the proverbial "Fat Lady" is not singing, and, come to think of it, she is not even close to being at the performance theatre. We have over 5,500 miles to sail past them. We keep reminding ourselves: this is not the sprint races we are used to. As a team we have not raced against other boats for longer than a week-- we need to remember that this is not 'game over' for us.

There’s a boat full of tough, determined, focused women right now who are hungry to sail fast and hard, using every single second to perform at 101%, and get ourselves back with the rest of the fleet—and nothing is going to stop us until we do.

- See more at: http://teamsca.com/blog/day-7-expecting-the-expected#sthash.5iKzSOaX.dpuf

PD Staff
10-18-2014, 11:57 AM

Video by Stefan Coppers & Thijs Engelbertink
Louis Balcaen turns 26 today. He is the youngest sailor onboard Team Brunel. He loves yacht racing, and triathlons.
So here is a special gift for his birthday – a swim under the Dutch boat to have a look at the keel.

His skipper noticed a speed difference with the rest of the fleet and decided to send a crew to check.
“We had a little vibration on the boat,” says Bouwe Bekking, “and as well we could just see that the other boats were just slowly edging away.”
Did Louis dive for nothing, or did he pick something up? The answer in the video above.





images © Stefan Coppers/Team Brunel

PD Staff
10-20-2014, 10:06 AM


It’s hard to explain the complexity of the weather in this part of the world. No computer model or forecaster can accurately predict the winds because the air here is dry and warm, 23c now, and the typical barometric pressure gradients that generate them become very weak. Weather is far more localized in the middle latitudes and things like small islands and clouds throw more than a few monkey wrenches in a well-laid plan.

Will Oxley has been through here more than a dozen times and seems perfectly at grips with the reality of the region, but for Charlie—you can already sense a bit of frustration at seeing some big differences between the GRIB files that drive our weather routing and what we’re actually experiencing on deck. It will be a while before the two align again, and he’s starting to understand that much of the next week’s tactics will be made by looking skyward towards the clouds rather than down below at the nav station.

And a small but significant aside—today Mark Towill turns 26. We’ve got a bit of a present-stash for Mark courtesy of Charlie’s wife, and needless to say this will be a birthday he won’t forget.

You have to be patient, forgiving, and positive, and as we’ve committed to a middle-lane approach heading south, only time will tell how we fare. Brunel and Abu Dhabi are to our west, SCA on our line but 25 miles back, and the rest to the east, having navigated the tricky passages between the Verdes. We got caught jibing south maybe a little too early and fell into the lee of one of the bigger islands, and it’s a perfect example of relying too heavily on our computers rather than our eyes. In darkness we sailed under a chain of clouds that was most likely coming from Santa Antao, the westernmost island of the chain (and also—westernmost point of Africa), and it took us 30-degrees from our “expected” heading for a few hours. But we’re back on track now and there’s nothing much more to do at this point than sail south as quickly as possible—towards even more uncertainty in the Doldrums!

~Amory Ross~

PD Staff
10-20-2014, 10:11 AM


TeamVestas passed through the windy islands of Cape Verde over the weekend. This was definitely their last glimpse of dry land for a while: "An amazing cluster of volcanic islands, normally we wouldn’t ever get the opportunity to see it but the weather routing had us take advantage of the funnel effects between the islands".

In 1994, Vestas installed the first commercial wind farm in Cape Verde, one of the first in Africa. Wind energy supplies the country with an impressive 20% of its electricity, reducing fossil fuel imports by 22,000 tonnes per year!

Brian Carlin / Team Vestas Wind

PD Staff
10-20-2014, 10:16 AM


Today the fleet truly split Team SCA Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Brunel Sailing and Team Alvimedica chose north, while the remaining boats Team Vestas Wind MAPFRE and Dongfeng Race Team chose to head south. Now the fleet must head west in a race to reach Fernando de Noronha a way point, but not before they face the Doldrums. "There are still plenty of game changing situations to happen and none more so than the next couple days as the fleet split around Cape Verde and head to the Doldrums soon after which King Neptune will appear to give us an extra push!" Navigator Libby Greenhalgh.

PD Staff
10-20-2014, 10:23 AM


19th October 2014

So what do you know about Cape Verde and Pascal Bidégorry?

Cape Verde: A country that is a horseshoe-shaped cluster of ten volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean spanning 4033 km².

Pascal Bidégorry: A man that is a force of nature and considered by his peers to be one of the most talented sailors of his generation, feisty at times and won’t suffer fools. Navigator for Dongfeng.

Replace broken rudder?


Win back first position?


If only it were that easy. Amazingly we did manage to replace the rudder and regain first position amongst the fleet however just hours afterwards, navigator Pascal Bidégorry was faced with an important strategic decision. Should the team follow the fleet and sail around the top of Cape Verde or break away and sail through the Island cluster knowing full well they could run flat out of wind.

Conventional wisdom, and what some might consider the more conservative route, is to go around the islands passing the western most islands to the north as the height of these volcanic islands (up to 2,500m) will cast what is called a wind shadow, which can extend to several tens of miles on the downwind side of each island, cancelling out any wind that might reach the boat. For the non-sailors that would be a bit like sheltering behind a building from the wind, which is exactly the opposite of what our boys are trying to do!

However, once you get to know Pascal Bidégorry it becomes apparent that ‘conservative options’ aren’t really his thing. Like any good navigator, he knows when to call it a day but Pascal has balls and when he sees an opportunity he is likely to go for it. Backed by Skipper Charles Caudrelier, together they have made for an exciting show as they opted last to sail straight through the islands of Cape Verde and break away from the fleet.

Yesterday it was clear that Abu Dhabi was leading the pack to go around to the west as Skipper Ian Walker expressed his surprise at Bidégorry’s choice; “I’m surprised at the teams who have chosen to go through the islands where there are massive wind shadows and unpredictable gusting winds. These teams also face the risk of setting themselves up too far east to cross the Doldrums.”

But looking back at the tracker it was clear that our team had already decided to sail as low as possible to try and find the least damaging way directly through the islands. Even though now we can see they have been sucked into the first island they have passed and have had to gybe south for clean air, will they manage to find a way through?

This brings us to Mapfre and Vestas, who (albeit a bit late) decided to bail out from the Abu Dhabi plan (perhaps after seeing Dongfeng’s decision) and took an initial hit. They have now sailed through the two most western islands, a risky but perhaps good move?

It’s been a navigators race so far and as it stands the boys seem to be hanging on to the wind quite well but the question is, has Pascal Bidégorry pulled off a great chess move? Or will the wind shadows of Cape Verde islands trap them?

Only time will tell.

~Yann Riou~

PD Staff
10-20-2014, 10:28 AM



Well, we can’t complain about lack of entertainment so far in this race!

The inshore racing action down the African coast came to an end with the boats finally being out of sight of each other as they approached one of the key tactical milestones of Leg 1; the Cape Verde Islands.

While they look like little grey marks on the tracker, these islands reach between 1,600m and 2,400m into the sky. The potential to get becalmed beneath these imposing landscapes has generally made ocean racing navigators avoid sailing between them, despite the additional distance that is required by sailing to the north.

The decision to sail north or go through the islands is further complicated as it affects the next decision on where to cross the equator and manage the fickle doldrums and the light winds that are prevalent here.

Traditionally “west is best” has been the mantra, as the doldrums are generally narrower in the west. Those teams that chose to go through the islands have sailed a shorter distance, but also reduced their ability to get west, by being further south and closer to the areas of light winds.

Dongfeng certainly is not afraid of taking risks, and decided to go straight through the islands along with Mapfre and Vestas, resulting in some nervous hours for those such as Abu Dhabi, who opted for the more traditional northerly route. As of this morning it looks like the short-term gains for Dongfeng have been wiped out with tactical advantage resting with Abu Dhabi and Team Brunel, but this could all change with the next weather update.

The teams will now be deciding where they want to cross the doldrums, what angle they want to approach, and where they want to be after their exit.

Each team will be desperately trying to unlock the slightest nuance between the weather models and studying satellite imagery of cloud build-up along the equator, to see if they can spot the ‘magic’ spot that will take them into the southern hemisphere. And just for added complication, when you have chosen the perfect location, it may have disappeared 6 hours later when the next weather report comes in. Who would be a navigator?

With the winds and course looking reasonably predictable after the turning point of Fernando, the doldrums crossing could be the final big tactical decision that will go a long way to deciding this Leg. The new boys onboard the boats will also be anxiously awaiting the equator and the ‘wrath of King Neptune’, who will welcome them to the southern ocean with his usual bag of tricks.

So keep the phone charged and the laptop plugged in - it’s going to be an interesting few days. Stay close to us at https://www.facebook.com/AbuDhabiOceanRacing, http://www.volvooceanraceabudhabi.com/ and https://twitter.com/ADORlog and thanks for following.

Fair winds,

PD Staff
10-20-2014, 10:35 AM


The only thing we see is the other boats in the far distance, and occasionally a fishing boat, a cargo or a sailing boat around one of the islands. It’s kind of weird that after 9 days of sailing into the ocean we are still fighting our way! But that's life, you have to expect the unexpected and be ready to react in the best possible way.

Carlos Hernández, Anthony Marchand and Xabi Fernández were all hit by flying fish.

The worst is the smell they leave behind… and if one falls into the boat unnoticed, then it’s even worse.

It’s getting warmer and warmer. Yesterday you couldn’t sleep inside anymore, so we ended up not sleeping at all.
Francisco Vignale, OBR

Angry Dolphin
10-20-2014, 02:36 PM
Are the Alvimedicators dragging a net?

10-20-2014, 03:17 PM
Dunno...lets see what they say here:


The champagne sailing conditions of the Trade Winds are pushing Team SCA south as they approach the equator and the next big challenge The Doldrums

It's not hard to mistake the picturesque greenery of the Cape Verde Islands for the set of Jurassic Park.
Team Alvimedica passed by the archipelago on October 19, on their way to Cape Town for Leg 1.
Seeing green gave the guys a respite from the constant blue scenery they have experienced the past few days.

PD Staff
10-21-2014, 10:00 AM
OCTOBER 21, 2014

Even though I’m tempting fate writing this, the headline of the day so far would be “Doldrums? What Doldrums?” Certainly, based on weather models we should have already seen 5-10 knots of breeze and dropping. So far all day we’ve had around 15 knots and been making great speed straight south!
Another beautiful sunset however was interrupted by fairly large rain clouds indicative that we’d reached the Doldrums. Please let it rain! We could all use a shower!
Matt Knighton, OBR

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 



We are currently drifting some way, nobody can bee too sure which way that is at the moment, and the wind speed is barely registering at all. Somewhere between one and two knots. The mainsail slams one side to the other and the winches constantly spin as the guys on deck try and prepare the boat for whichever puff seems most likely to stick.
Because it is pitch black the clouds are impossible to see; besides watching the radar for rain—a guaranteed indicator of cloud and wind—there is little to do but remain non-committal and keep your options open. Wind can arrive from the left, from the right, from the front or from the back, and you have to be ready for a lot of it, too. Its arrival is never gradual!
It has also become very hot. And super smelly. So yes, confidently confirmed: we are in the Doldrums! Wish us luck.
Amory Ross, OBR

Team Alvimedica


The dawn of a complicated day. Let’s face it: we’re not having a very good time on Dongfeng. We lost distance last night, and our leading position. The day got dull afterwards. Sailing straight ahead, with the spinnaker up, in light winds. Not very interesting…
At least, we made the most of it, eating and sleeping… Charging the batteries, waiting for what’s next.
And the next thing is the International Tropical Convergence Zone, also known as “Doldrums”. We started to feel its effects in the evening. Somebody has switched off the fans. At 2230 UTC, the trade winds we had since Cape Verde stopped. All at once.
Yann Riou, OBR

Dongfeng Race Team

Wouter thinks he’s found a gap to squeeze through. I guess the others think they found a gap too. Could we all be right? Could we see some winners in this split in the fleet? We hope it’s us that make it out the other side. If we do being more east than the rest we should have a more favorable angle to sail to the Brazil coast to our next turning mark. We have a little time to sit and wait it out.
For now, we sit tight, wait it out for another 15 hours and pray the gap through is still open to us when we arrive…….
Brian Carlin, OBR
Team Vestas Wind

Go to team website 


Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind/Volvo Ocean Race
Flying fish, seaweed, a bird every once in a while, and ahead of us 400 miles with barely any wind. This is going to be long!
Sunrises and sunsets are more spectacular every day. I’m no expert but I’m sure it’s got to do with the fact that we are at the latitude 9º N.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day in Argentina. I’d like to congratulate all mums and especially mine, who’s not with us anymore. ¡A big kiss to you mum!
Francisco Vignale, OBR


Pablo Arrarte Elorza is worn out by the Volvo Ocean Race. Not by the physical effort – the likeable Spaniard is a very strong guy. For Pablo, this race is a culinary war of attrition, as the supplies do little to please his gourmet palate.
He is affectionately known on board as Patan (the Spanish word for clumsy). But when he is at the helm, Patan does little justice to his nickname. The Super Driven pilots Team Brunel through the waves. "One of the best helmsmen in the world," says Bouwe Bekking "Pablo is a mega-active trimmer. The men on deck rarely rest.”
And Pablo gives his orders: “Mainsail with weight forward, more outrigger.”
Stefan Coppers, OBR
Team Brunel


Two days, eight hours, thirty-four minutes, and ten seconds, nine seconds, eight, seven, six, five… over the last few days the clock has gotten louder and louder as it counts down to October 23rd at noon—the time when we cross the equator and the time when myself and six other sailors join the rest of our crew in King Neptune’s court.
“Hey want to hide?” Stacey asked Libby.
“Sure, but I also have to tell them we’re crossing the Equator,” Libby (the navigator) replied.
Corinna Halloran, OBR
Team SCA


10-21-2014, 02:59 PM

For the seven sailing teams competing in the Volvo Ocean Race, it is last minute preparation and time to say goodbye to their family. In 24 hours they will start the toughest sailing race on the planet.

PD Staff
10-23-2014, 11:54 AM
Always keeping an eye out for the changing conditions. Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind/Volvo Ocean Race



The push and shove of 12 knots of Atlantic breeze – things are looking up.

The crackle of the sails and the crush of the waves – things are looking up.
Brighter skies and a brand new hemisphere – things are looking up.
On board Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, things are looking up.
First in the fleet, and out of the Doldrums, they’re heading fast towards the Equator, trade winds blowing gusts of encouragement around their ears.

“Normally you can be sitting stationery for hours on end, relying on clouds to puff you through – but we managed to keep moving,” smiles Ian Walker, driving his Azzam boat forwards.

In these generous conditions, he holds his head high – and the horizon looks good.
“The sky is changing over the last few hours,” he adds. “We can see all the big clouds behind us, and it looks a lot fairer in front. We should have a lot less disturbed wind now.”

His team opted to take the most western passage of any of the fleet – a move that Team Vestas Wind’s Wouter Verbraak called ‘risky’ - and Ian doesn’t deny it was a bold decision.

“We semi-regretted it at one stage,” he admits. “We were looking at a 50 to 100 mile deficit, but a few things went in our favour.”

Chris Nicholson trims in the tricky conditions at the doldrums. Photo by Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind/Volvo Ocean Race

“In the 2008-9 race on Green Dragon, we did exactly the same thing, and made similar gains on the fleet – we were first around Fernando de Noronha then, too.”
That’s the next waypoint on this 3 week voyage to Cape Town, a tiny archipelago just off the coast of eastern Brazil.

But before rounding the tropical surfing paradise, the Emiratis must cross the Equator, smashing their way into the Southern Hemisphere - a symbolic passing which is expected to happen at around 2200 UTC this evening.
Around 200nm behind the leaders, MAPFRE and Team SCA are also looking up – but for a different reason.

They’re the ones left behind, stuck with no light at the end of the tunnel, and they desperately need to find a way out to keep this race alive.

Sophie Ciszek watches the horizon for pressure. Photo by Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race

“There’s really not a lot of wind around!” shouts Sophie Ciszek, from the top of the mast.
Frustration is bubbling on the magenta boat, but after days of almost aimlessly floating around, it appears to be gradually turning to reluctant resignation.

Abby Ehler, eyeing skyward, explains. “There’s no wind – and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can see where the wind is, but there’s no way of getting to it.”
“It’s like trying to sit on a bicycle without a chain,” adds Carolijn Brouwer. “You keep turning the pedals really hard, but you’re not getting anywhere.”

On the Spanish boat, it’s Frenchman Anthony Marchand sums up the feeling of helplessness best.

Nicolai Sehested drys off at the helm after a fresh water shower. Photo by Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind/Volvo Ocean Race

“Will we ever get out of here?” he asks, dramatically. After this long in the dreaded Doldrums, part of him must be beginning to believe it might never happen.
And it’s the thought of leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing increasing their superiority with every minute, every mile, every hour that will hurt the most.
But Ian isn’t worried about that. With his boat in pole position and having successfully jumped a massive hurdle, he has reason to be cheerful - but what sticks in his memory from the last few days?

“My memory of the Doldrums is that it teases you,” he says. “You think you’re out, and you fall back in. It’s frustrating.”

“But then suddenly, everything changes – and you’re off.”
Encouragement for those still battling the clouds, then. But for the Emiratis, that’s the Doldrums, done. Chapter closed.
Now, things are looking up – and they’re not looking back.

Stacey Jackson checks the tack out on the bowsprit. Photo by Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race

Sally Barkow helms after a squall came over. Photo by Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race

Sophie Ciszek works on Annie Lush's achilles tendon. Photo by Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race

The boys being boys! Photo by Francisco Vignale/MAPFRE/Volvo Ocean Race

Buzz Light Beer
10-23-2014, 12:19 PM
Things are getting hot and steam on Team SCA. Where is the live feed PB?

10-24-2014, 11:52 AM

Bestest I can do...







PD Staff
10-26-2014, 09:22 AM
Sitting in the Nav Station on-board Azzam, SiFi again surveys what looks like colored spaghetti; this time thrown on a map of the South Atlantic Ocean. Each colored line marks a different routing to Cape Town. At last count there were over 15.
As the watches tick by and all 8 sailors on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing take their turn between racing on deck and resting below, at various times each one has had a look at the spaghetti.

Ian takes his turn at the screen narrowing in on an area of light wind the High is predicted to churn out lying directly in our path. In three days time, there’s every possibility the fleet will again “restart” and all our gains are for naught.

Matt Knighton, OBR
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing



Al’s diner has been revoked of its 5 stars of late. Not for its hygiene standards, which could also be marginal as we run out of cleaning products. It’s varied menu of 7 days has worn thin with locals here on Vestas Wind. I started to have complaints a couple of days ago with comments from deck.

We have started the conversation too early people say, but Cape Town and its steaks are soon going to be a priority. It’s strange how food can become an ever increase consumption of your free time. We think about it all the time, especially Tom Johnson.
Not a massively fussy eater but he likes what he likes; freeze-dried is not his thing. I asked today what the national dish of South Africa was; no one quite got it. The dish is called Bobotie, an amazing simple dish to create; minced beef, sweet honey, spices, all cooked up with an egg like crust to top the dish. Oven baked for an hour you have something special. I highly recommend those family and friends who come to Cape Town try this dish. Amazing!

Brian Carlin, OBR
Team Vestas Wind


We’re seeing stronger winds all the time and we’re beginning to put up some quick numbers through the water. Everyone’s having fun in the new conditions but since the Equator antics there is noticeably less “chatter” on deck and the guys seem ready to take it to the next level. The watch system finally has some real estate to settle into—straight line sailing is something we haven’t had much of to date—and as boring as staying on one tack for a week can be, it really helps with routines and rhythms, with getting some rest for the challenging week ahead.

Amory Ross, OBR
Team Alvimedica



“Life on board is much like living on a mountain, on skis,” Sally said. “And you have to cook, eat, sleep, and work on this mountain. It’s not easy.”
Imagine boiling teakettles on this mountain, and the mountain moves left and right, up and down, and then pouring the boiling water into a food pot. You end up having way too much faith on a slippery pair of wet shoes—the only thing preventing you from catapulting into the empty bunks below with the boiling water.

I cannot tell if I’m too tall for the galley or too short—am I supposed to cook on my knees? I understand my entire job is a job hazard, however on the scale of job hazards it is the galley that scares me the most.

Corinna Halloran, OBR
Team SCA



Charles and Pascal are watching the weather, and are beginning to have a vague idea of ​​how long it will take us to get to Cape Town. Much too early to predict a precise date of arrival, but what we can see is that with the high pressure ahead, it will not be very fast. The advantage of such a situation is that the game is open - and there will probably be opportunities. The downside is that it diminishes the rest time between maneouvres - an important thing to bear in mind when we know that we still have eight months of racing ahead.

Yann Riou, OBR
Dongfeng Race Team





We have Alvimedica sailing behind us and they don’t allow us to make any mistakes. During the night, in one of the watches, we tried to sail at a higher level to gain some miles to the east but that made us sail 1.5 knots slower and we lost some distance on them. There are no breaks here. You give them an inch and they take a mile.
Here, all the boats have the same. They’re all one-design - the same boat, the same sails. Only the ones who know how to sail better will gain that extra mile. Sailors have a very strong role to play and the pressure on them is big. Despite this, the crew is doing very well, they are all very healthy, and hopeful of improving the situation we find ourselves in today.

Francisco Vignale, OBR

PD Staff
10-28-2014, 08:51 AM


A world of digital age, everything is on Google, every answer a keystroke away. There is little left in our world now original. The world has become a huge dumping ground for secondhand information.

If you want something real you must initiate it. This is our authenticity.
An experience, it’s exactly that, an event or a happening experienced first hand by an individual.

The Volvo Ocean Race is an event, it’s one you get to watch unfold as something real. What happens on these boats day to day, what’s sent, what’s written about, what’s photographed, what’s on video is REAL. It’s not a reality show, it’s certainly not scripted, it’s actually a real experience that is viewed by you. Perhaps the success of this event has become so popular with mainstream viewers for this factor.

When you wake at 3am, its dark, really dark, you hear the wind chime its echo through the rigging above you, you feel the walls of your home flex in and out due to the waves, the bunk lurches from side to side and you know that your shift is coming up. That is authentic, that is our reality. This is “the experience” we experience.

Brian Carlin, OBR
Team Vestas Wind





Tough day for MAPFRE today. Why? Last two position reports showed that we’ve lost miles on our closest competitors.
We are sailing closer to land and the others are getting a bit more wind than us.
We have to stay cool, following the forecast in a day and a half we’ll see the benefit of our call, but in the meanwhile we have to sail as fast as posible to the South and wait up.
Martínez looked a bit more tense today, noboday likes to lose miles. It’s like bleeding out drop by drop. “This is our position and we have to defend it until the next call”, he says.

Francisco Vignale, OBR


We’re basking in the traditional SE tradewinds, serving up a gorgeous dosage of twenty-knot perfection squarely on the beam. An occasional cloud brings a bit of Brazilian fever, a quick reef and some warm water over the deck, but on the whole these days are exactly what you have in mind when you sign up for this race. Dare I suggest: downwind perfection. It is the collective opinion that you could just go on like this forever; irrelevant are the days!

We’re figuring the boat out a bit, finding a few more knots here and there, making our way back up through the middle of the fleet with sound decision making. It is going to be a critical few days of navigating the high-pressure between Cape Town and us, but we’re psyched to sniff the front of the fleet again and we’re all ready for some fast sailing towards the finish!
Amory Ross, OBR
Team Alvimedica


Honestly, I’m not really sure what to tell you, I’ve got writer’s block.
I suppose I could tell you we changed sails to the Mast Head 0 and the Frac0. Does that interest you? If so great, because they were the biggest moments of our day…

Yann Riou/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race/Volvo Ocean Race
As for the rest of the ‘news’ we’re going straight and the boat is on a constant incline. At this rate we’re all going to end up with one leg shorter than the other.
Actually I forgot, we did do something cool. We put up the wind generator. Kevin was the man tasked with the mission. Poor guy, lost two hours of his life doing it… so I need to tell you about it. We’re not trying to get one up on Vestas.
The truth is we’re getting a little bit stressed about the fuel situation onboard. Just to explain, without fuel there’s no electricity and without electricity we’re basically sailing blind and drinking seawater.

We gybed today. Several times. It means that, for the first time in a while, we were on starboard tack. It also means we moved everything we pack on port to the starboard side. That includes the sails on deck, but also all the gear inside the boat. Bags of food, tools, personal bags, spare pieces, parts of our kitchen… When we sail at a reaching angle like we’ve done in the past days, the more things you stack on windward, the fastest you ho.
Let’s say we put it all.

So, when you move after almost a week, you find some random stuff that got stuck in a corner or under a box. A sock, a tee shirt… I found a pen, and a camera battery.
On the other side, there is also a layer of dirt and old food crumbs that made the spaces between the bags their home too.
So we cleaned.

Yann Riou, OBR
Dongfeng Race Team


“I’m sailing against my mentor, and we’re about to pass them,” Sam Davies said with a cheeky smile.
Our mentors recognise something within us when we, ourselves, may be unsure. Our mentors lead us through their understandings of situations we may encounter, perhaps in the Southern Ocean. Our mentors give us the confidence to make our own choices, and (eventually) surpass their knowledge.
Some of us have known our mentors for decades, others have just met theirs; some of us are racing with our mentors, and others are racing against them. Some have many mentors, and others just one.
We are a team of determined women; we are positive; we are on the hunt; we are coming back and there’s nothing stopping us.


On board we have a few Southern Ocean veterans, and they’ve been a saving grace for us Southern Ocean newbies.
“I can’t help but laugh,” Sam said. “The girls who haven’t sailed in the Southern Ocean keep asking me all these questions, and I can’t help remember that’s exactly what I did. I was lucky enough to have a very patient navigator—so I’ve been open to answering the questions.”

Sam was 22 when she first sailed in the Southern Ocean; she has since been back once in 2009 for the Vendee Globe, when she spent six weeks down there. Abby sailed the Southern Ocean in her last Volvo Ocean Race in 2001-02, as did Carolijn Brouwer. Liz Wardley last played in the Southern Ocean in 2007 when she was testing a one-design boat for an Around the World Race. Dee Caffari has been down there four times! That must be a good sign then!!!
Corinna Halloran, OBR
Team SCA

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing continued to punch further south along the western edge of the St. Helena High Pressure, guiding Azzam as a three-way battle for the lead developed with Team Vestas Wind and Team Brunel sailing on either side. Separated by about 150 miles, each boat has placed a bet on which “lane” south will have the strongest breeze.

Nevertheless, all three routes are different variations on the same theme: heading south to catch the westerly winds at 40 degrees south or the “Roaring Forties”.
Home to freezing temperatures, very strong winds, and huge waves that travel uninterrupted around the planet, the last week of Leg 1 will play out in possibly epic conditions.

Matt Knighton, OBR

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

"In the Netherlands there is a book. It contains all the Dutchmen who have rounded Cape Horn," continues the good-humoured Gerd-Jan Poortman. "I want to be in it! And: there is a myth that if you have rounded Cape Horn, you can pee in the wind! Well, as a sailor, that's very useful.”
Stefan Coppers, OBR
Team Brunel


10-28-2014, 02:37 PM

That’s it. The seven teams are leaving Alicante, Spain for the first leg of their round the world race. And first, they have to go through the capricious Mediterranean sea with its thunderstorms and lack of wind. The perfect start for the toughest race on the planet.

10-29-2014, 09:12 AM
Many know Bill Erkelens as a former rigger, team manager for the Maxi Sayonara and subsequently Campaign manager for Oracle Racing during the IACC efforts and a really good sailor with a solid Rolodex of connections in the yacht racing world. When the opportunity to manage a Volvo team, Bill did not hesitate, and in late 2013, the Bay Area Native accepted the roles as the COO for Team Alvimedica.

It's been a whirlwind dozen or so months for Bill and we caught up with him during a short respite from the chores involved with running the program, after finishing up the 6 week Alicante start operations and rushing to South Africa to set up and meet the crew in Cape Town.


PD: How do you compare running an AC team vs a Volvo Team?

BE: Very similar, but with the America's Cup you have 3 years of meetings and a few weeks of sailing!

PD: Tell us about Alicante and the prep.

BE: It was 6 weeks full on. All the team members, including sailing, shore and management teams putting in long days. We had one 1/2 day off in that period. We would arrive at 6:30 in the morning and get home at 10:00 PM. We have the 2nd smallest shore crew with 5, some of the better funded teams had excess crew, so obviously they didn't have such long days. There was an unexpected issue with bottom paint on the boats and all the teams needed to deal with stripping, re-priming and repainting. You play the hand you are dealt and everyone rolled up their sleeves and got dirty. That's all behind us now and things should be much smoother.

PD: What is the vibe like at the Volvo Ocean Race Village?

BE: Its very family like and all the teams help each other out as much as possible. Tools and gear get loaned freely, problems resolved with community effort. ! The shared services program is working really well which really eliminates a lot of the advantage that rich teams have had in the past and any animosity which might exist between the haves and have nots. It's a good feel and great vibe

PD: How about your shore team?
BE: There's Chris Higgins the Shore Manager, Marta Lobato managing the logistics, Toby Ingrey who does rigging and composites, Nate Campbell who does the same, Anderson Reggio doing the navigation support and our Physiotherapist Paul Wilson, and they are all doing a great job


Aside from dealing with mountains of logistics, paperwork, and keeping the program and personnel running smooth, Bill is just as compentent driving a forklift, running a grinder, running rigging or splicing ropes!

PD: What happens after the boats leave a port?

BE: The shore crew packs everything up. The gear crew and delicate stuff get packed in the air freight containers and the heavier or more disposable items are loaded into cargo containers and shipped to next port with the village itself. The whole village is gone in a couple days. There are critical bits and pieces cached away in different parts of the planet, masts, booms, winches etc that would take too long to ship in emergency. The final item is the paperwork that needs processing which Marta and I tend to before departing.

PD: What's the story on sails?

BE: Each team gets a set of sails plus 4 additional sails which cannot be used until the China stop. It really equalizes the teams and eliminates the advantage wealthier teams have had in the past. There was also a set of training sails which the teams could keep. For teams like us, which put in a lot of training days on them, they were pretty much reduced to rags. For teams like Vestas Wind, they have quite a bit of life left in theirs, so that's a little bit of advantage. The shared services will take care of sails when they get to port, and teams can carry a sewing machine on their own, but it has to be stowed on the center line and cannot be stacked.

PD: So when the teams arrive in port, are they expected to roll up sleeves again?

BE: The Volvo guys have most of the maintenance stuff covered via the shared service. We expect the shore team to be able to handle all the rest of boat needs and the sailing crew can rest. They are going to be pretty beat up by the time they get to port and will really need it.


PD: What's your guess as to your whether the stand-bye crewmembers will be getting some action?

BE: I think it's very good. Historically, very few make it all the way around the world. We have Matt Noble available for any general position, Stu Bannatyne available as watch captain and Anderson Reggio available as navigator.

PD: Your thoughts on piracy which disrupted the previous edition?

BE: Historically it's at an all time low. The bad guys were beaten back severely by a number of nations, and no longer see pirating as an easy option. There were 412 acts of piracy for a calendar year during the last cycle. This year there has been 3 total. That being said, if wind gets light in the notorious waters, Volvo does have contingency plans.

PD: How much time to you expect to be able to spend at home with family during the race?

BE:Not much. In fact there won't be much time between Abu Dhabi and Sanya, so Melinda and the kids will be coming to Abu Dhabi for Christmas!

Team Alvimedica is the youngest entry in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015, the world's toughest and longest sporting event. The crew is led by American skipper Charlie Enright, age 30. Alvimedica, the European based medical devices company, is the team’s owner. Founded in 2007, Alvimedica is a fast growing challenger in the global field of interventional cardiology, committed to developing minimally-invasive technologies. This is the team’s first entry in the extremely challenging 39,000-mile race that started October 11, 2014 from Alicante, Spain and features stopovers in 11 ports around the world.

Follow Team Alvimedica on:


Buzz Light Beer
10-29-2014, 10:10 AM
Nice work PB

Single Hander
10-29-2014, 11:24 AM
Very cool!

PD Staff
10-30-2014, 10:07 AM

OCTOBER 30, 2014

The front-runners and ourselves all patiently or not so patiently wait for this shift in the breeze to the left. A lifting breeze will allow us gybe to get south once again and finally make a rendezvous with a substantial frontal system that pushes us east to our next port.

We have options; right now Chris and Wouter discuss and discuss in detail every option. I’m finding it tough to wait this out, they too must be… It’s exciting though, we have the potential to pop out in the lead if not completely close the gauge on Abu Dhabi and Brunel.

... It’s funny I usually start these blogs mid morning and finish them that evening so that I miss nothing during the course of the day, well something funny just happened. It’s now 18:42 and a boat we have not seen since the Canary Islands has crossed our bow by 3 miles, it’s Abu Dhabi!

Wow, that’s good news and bad, good we are in the right place on the race course bad so now too are the rest of the leading group, we suspect Brunel is not far away either. This is a true testament to the new one-design fleet, three miles apart after 19 days of racing! Now the following days are going to get very exciting…

Brian Carlin, OBR
Team Vestas Wind


With sunlight fading over the South Atlantic, from the helm of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing a bright white sail grew larger by the minute on the horizon. After more than five days without seeing any other boats, Team Vestas Wind was crossing behind us by a mere three miles.

One might think that after 19 days of racing and being thousands of miles from land we’re surprised to see another boat so close. To be honest, we’re not. The shock of how close this one-design racing is has worn off. After the earlier battle down the African coast, it’s not surprising to see one or even two sails keeping pace with you for a very, very long time.

Matt Knighton, OBR

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing


The sun shines and we are sailing in 15 knots of wind. The good news: the sched this morning showed that we were the fastest boat, we’ve been catching up with the pack. It’s very important that by the time we head to South Africa, we are all together and at the front. As Iker puts it “we can’t miss this train.” Arriving late would be too bad for us.

Today we had a look at the forecast for the upcoming days, and tomorrow we’ll be sailing in 25 knots of wind, and 3 to 4 meter waves. It’s going to get wet. I’ve been preparing everything for that, when the life onboard gets difficult.
The French guys also surprised us by taking a “pate” out of the bags. It was really good, so thanks so much for that guys. Eating something different really puts you in better spirits!

Francisco Vignale, OBR


Just like any Wednesday at the office, the general topic of conversation around the water cooler was plans for the weekend. We will all be in the Southern Ocean, so it should be a pretty epic weekend to say the least. Sara said she already has her wardrobe ready and organised; this will be Sara’s first time going to the Southern Ocean.

Today’s average day at the office also included some last minute checks before the big weekend. Sophie went up the rig to make sure everything was 100%, and Abby and Liz continued a detailed inspection of the boat. I’m not lying when I say it’s going to be one big weekend.

So yeah today was just an average day out here—no surprises and no excitement, just a quiet, average Wednesday.

Corinna Halloran, OBR
Team SCA


The most obvious changes have been in the weather, and it’s a matter of some significance given where we’re soon headed. Life is getting cold in a hurry and because the water’s still warm we’re seeing a lot of fog; fog is damp, and for the first time in a long time things are wet. At this point its just condensation, but it’s an early reminder that we’re going south, somewhere much colder and much wetter: to the notorious latitudes of the roaring forties.

While the sailing is still easy—and it is by comparison to what it will soon be—everyone has been prepping their respective areas--building worklists, checking the rig, the winches, digging out boots, waterproofing etc… We want to be sure that when the winds begin to build we’re as ready as possible, and more ready than the rest. We could see sustained winds of 35 knots so preparation is going to be crucial.

Amory Ross, OBR
Team Alvimedica

Open food bags: 19
Food bags left: 6
Days of sailing left: 7
We won’t die of hunger because we do have leftovers from the 19 open bags. But it won’t contain our favourite meals. Let’s just say we’ll have to wait for Cape Town to enjoy a great dinner.
More numbers
Percentage of meals unfinished last week: 100
Percentage of meals unfinished this week: 0
Average life span of a Nutella pot the first week: 3-4 days
Average life span of a Nutella pot this week: less than 24 hours
Confirmation: we do have food, but we’re not against a food feast in South Africa.

Yann Riou, OBR
Dongfeng Race Team
Go to team website

************************************************** *******

OCTOBER 29, 2014


Forrest Gump once wisely said: "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get." That could never be more true than today. Except our chocolate got squished as well; it's still good, we still love it, but it's just been a bit sticky and messy the last 24 hours.

Last night, as we happily made our way southwest, we got caught under our own personal rain cloud that sucked every ounce of wind. Our "parade" was both literally and figuratively rained on. By morning, we were 90 miles behind MAPFRE, and by 1pm, we were another 49 miles behind. Unsure if "gutted" gives the best description of the mood of all of us on board - but it felt like we had all been stabbed in the stomach.

Yes, today was not easy, but we did not allow ourselves to slow us down - we sailed with the conditions given and sailed at 100% performance.
So, as I've said before: don't rule us out. Don't expect anything but the best from us.

Don't stop believin'. There is still thousands of miles left, and with a newly added "Ice Gate" in the Southern Ocean, the next couple of days racing may get even closer. We are fighting and that's the most important part. After all, who knows what chocolates we'll have tomorrow...

Corinna Halloran, OBR
Team SCA


Someone flicked the switch last night. We cruised in considerable comfort for the majority of yesterday evening until a shady grey cloud line crept up from the west. It had all the signs of significant breeze, enough to get the full compliment of crew on deck for a speedy sail change.

We waited, we looked and we were patient! Zero materialised, nothing in the cloud line. Two further attempts of front line clouds move in towards us. Zero, then wallop! It came at 24-26 knots of fun, pure surfing enjoyment. The darkness rolled in before I had any opportunity to capture the excitement. The night didn’t disappoint either, many gybes, stacks and then re-stacks later we sailed our way into the best pressure. It did however finally drop out light.

This is where the leaders gained distance and the pack behind compressed.
Wouter doesn’t seem fazed by any of this, his concern now is setting up for the sling-shot east, believing we are in the right placed area when the low-pressure systems develops to the west of us.

Brian Carlin, OBR
Team Vestas Wind


Might have been one of the nicest days out we’ve seen although not from a sailing perspective… I guess this is what you’d expect on the edge of a high-pressure system. Bright skies, warm on deck but light-ish breeze. Fortunately the winds never really dipped below 10 knots allowing us to keep good pace. Almost no sea state makes sailing at 15 knots feel like you’re standing still if you’re down below deck.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is searching for pockets of better breeze anticipating small mileage gains that will accelerate our route to the westerly winds that will hopefully shorten our trip to Cape Town.
Matt Knighton, OBR

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing


Early in the morning an alarm goes off showing that we only have 30% battery power left, and that we need to charge. The engine starts but the batteries won’t charge. We switched everything off, satellite, computers, lights, GPS. We then got in touch with land and let them know.

Michel and Iker got on to it and couldn’t find the origin of the problem, and we thought we might have to head to land. We then found out we could charge them when isolated, but not at the same time. Could have something to do with the water issue from the other day, or maybe there’s something not functioning properly we don’t know of.
Now everything is working again but we know that if this happens in the days to come, which are going to be hard, that could get very, very serious. We are getting ready for tough sailing conditions, we checked the mast and the winches. As Iker says, in the south, anything can happen, and the best prepared will get a better result.

Francisco Vignale, OBR
Go to team website


We’re using two different kinds of weather files: the European and the American models. They aren’t always on the same page. You've got to pick your side. That’s why we’ve seen the boats take different routes for the past couple of days. Verdict in a few days.
As far as everything else goes, life goes on onboard Dongfeng. These strategic questions keep us awake. We’re also discussing the arrival date in Cape Town. This date sets the number of days off we’ll have before the Leg 2. Sensitive topic…

Yann Riou, OBR
Dongfeng Race Team

10-31-2014, 10:05 AM

SC Week 3 Wrap Up

They crossed the equator and headed south, the conditions have been up and down as they battle on to try and close down the miles to the fleet ahead as they are looking forward to the big freight train south into the Southern Ocean


As the new routing takes the determined men of Dongfeng towards The Roaring Forties, they worry that 'packing light' in Alicante might not have been such a great idea...


King Neptune didn't have a chance to drop by when Team Brunel passed the equator during the night in full race mode about a week ago. This week he finally punished the sinners aboard Team Brunel..


The temperatures may be cooling off since the team has been heading south, but things are heating up in terms of speed. They may have been out out at sea for nearly three weeks, but motivation isn't an issue as they are still on 'the hunt'. Watch what life has been like on board for the last week for Team Alvimedica.


Iker Martínez nos cuenta desde a bordo del barco español cómo han sido las últimas millas para el "MAPFRE" y qué se espera de las próximas horas de navegación durante las difíciles condiciones del Atlántico Sur


Boatfeed from the Vestas Wind (28/10/14)
Brian Carlin / Team Vestas Wind

PD Staff
11-01-2014, 09:41 AM

NOVEMBER 1, 2014


On deck, the guys have been facing white-walled waves that crash over the cockpit as they surf down ocean swells four meters high. As the ride down one wave ends, the bow of Azzam will plow into the next sending freezing seawater crashing up the deck with a power strong enough to knock you over.
The best part: this is only an introduction to Southern Ocean sailing.

Matt Knighton, OBR
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing


ETA is 6 or 7 days, and I imagine getting to dock and tying up the boat, among a long lists of other things to do since the next leg is starting in less than 3 weeks. The first thing I am going to do is have a cold Coke, then have a burger and, after that, a nice hot shower. The things you miss the most on board, aside from the people you love, is good food and a shower. This is the price you pay to sail the world - and sail it fast!
Francisco Vignale, OBR


We take one day at a time; each day is different—each hour is different. “The rich will get richer at this point,” Libby said yesterday afternoon. And we all felt like deflated balloons—the distance just kept growing! Yesterday afternoon we couldn’t hit our performance numbers either—we had the best sailors in the correct places and they all said the boat felt slow, but couldn’t figure out why

By late afternoon though, everything had changed. The wind picked up and decided to stick around a bit longer than expected, waves began crashing over the bow, and we were sailing fast. Everything felt a little better. Even the position report didn’t sting as much.
Corinna Halloran, OBR
Team SCA


We all woken as different men, well, three of our crew have. 40-degree virgins they are not! We have broken the 40° barrier this morning, diving south and east into the infamous “Roaring 40’s”. This stretch of water is also technically now the Southern Ocean.

What delight for all of us to pick up this long awaited front. It seemed like Wouter was messing with us, just another day guys! We all feel like we have been off the coast of Rio for a life time.

20-26 knots of wind, a moderate swell pushes Vestas along in the right direction for Cape Town.


I can’t describe what it feels like for both the young guys and I. It’s the closest thing to Christmas morning onboard.
Brian Carlin, OBR
Team Vestas Wind

On the back of the boat is standing the Spaniard Arrarte. Hidden away behind his balaclava, he tries to recreate the temperature of his beloved Santander. But alas, even the stock of warm clothing that this Spanish sun worshipper carries with him is not resistant against the cold. It’s misty, water cold and the wind meter is showing 28 knots. A big wave rushes over the front deck and changes the cockpit into a bath tub of ice water. Arrarte takes again a little look into the navigation room: more often than usual today.

Stefan Coppers, OBR
Team Brunel


A first for Wolf, Horace, Thomas and Eric whose boots step for the first time in the Forties. Well, it’s not exactly like the tourism brochure said – yes, it’s grey, windy, and there are albatrosses…. We’ll have come back to experience the long west swell.
Instead, we’ve had a choppy sea state, stopping us from going as fast as we could with this wind. It does look like the English Channel in a southwest wind, minus the ships…

Yann Riou, OBR
Dongfeng Race Team

The goal is Cape Town and we’re making good progress in that direction. Our position to the south has its rewards, many of which will play out in the long run. So we have to be patient and not get flustered when a difficult weather scenario like this makes a mess of the position reports.

There are some significant hurdles left on the course and the general consensus is that there are big opportunities for gains from behind, all the way to the finish line. It’s a theory we plan on putting to the test.

Amory Ross, OBR
Team Alvimedica

OCTOBER 31, 2014


Like flipping a light switch. Off to on in so much as an instant, the anticipated westerlies of the South Atlantic have finally arrived—28 knots now—and it never ceases to amaze me how quickly life onboard can change. One minute you’re enjoying a nice casual sleep, twelve knots of wind and comfortable in your sleeping bag. Things are pretty mellow, tranquillo as Charlie says. Your iPod probably ran out of battery while you were dreaming, dreaming about home, maybe a steak in Cape Town. It really doesn’t matter—you are dreaming.

Something wakes you and you open your eyes and ears to a very different, very alarming setting. It’s pretty chaotic, actually. Your eyes adjust to the darkness, slowly, with the only light coming from red headlamps of the guys doing very much the same all around you. As the boat careens through the night like an out of control freight train, carving a trench through the ocean while obliterating every bit of water in its way, it is loud—constant loud like the rumble of distant thunder. You can actually hear the speed, feel the speed. Like accelerating in a sports car with your eyes closed, off-road, in the rain.

People on deck are yelling, bags down below are flying, waves are shooting through the hatch, and all you and everyone else just rising from their bunks are trying to do is wake up, simply get to your feet. And the kettle’s just tumbled to leeward because the boat is on its side. You hear it clank loudly, twice, on the way down and it lands in the [rapidly filling] bilge with an audible splash—a noise so annoying, so bothersome in principle--that you know it will someday occupy your nightmares. Gonna have to go get that. Like, right now.

Amory Ross, OBR
Team Alvimedica



We’re past the 40th parallel… technically in the Roaring Forties. It’s not roaring at full strength yet, but this evening a frontal system rolled through an the wind speeds have been in the 25 knots range all night.

I knew it was blowing hard when Chuny came back and, out of breath, says, “This is OK, no?” and before I can answer starts throwing all the heavy stacking gear both under and in my bunk because we were nose-diving into the waves and needed the aft weight.

Still, a nice sailing day up until dinnertime. The heavy breeze is welcome.

Matt Knighton, OBR
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Late last night I signed off with quite the sailing story. I’ll follow this up more now in detail that I’ve been educated by the crew. We were all waiting at 19:00 UTC for the six-hourly scheds, these position reports are massive news onboard, it allows us to gauge our performance and it tells us where the rest of the fleet is.

Five minutes before the email had been received, Abu Dhabi popped up on AIS on our computer screens, shortly after it appeared out of the grey horizon passing only four miles just ahead. This was a tactical game Abu Dhabi played, six hours of no one knowing their position and they end up right in front of us before the sched. We think the east wasn’t paying off for them so they joined our line to the west to get to the south to the frontal systems quicker.

The day brought a slight split in the trio up front, we are pushing hard to get south and be the first into the front coming possibly tomorrow. The others are further to our east. It’s all snakes and ladders now, Gain, Loss, Gain, Loss! Its hard to follow, I wonder what it’s like for you couch surfers at home. I bet some are getting less sleep than us, I know my Mom will be and probably all the mothers of their sons aboard too.

Brian Carlin, OBR
Team Vestas Wind

First Albatross
This morning we saw our first albatross. Surprising, because we were only at 32 degrees south. We wondered what it was doing there… Enjoying a holiday up north? We didn’t see any other.

A first for…

Tomorrow, Eric, Thomas, Wolf and Horace will sail for the first time by 40 degrees south. Even though they’re focused on the racing, Eric and Thomas are not taking this lightly. It’s something you want to do when you’re an offshore racer. It’s not the same for Wolf and Horace. We can see that the Roaring Forties legend didn’t really make it to China. Up to us to change this!

Yann Riou, OBR
Dongfeng Race Team

Twenty days ago, the idea of being at sea for twenty days was a bit daunting. Twenty days without a shower, twenty days without a run, twenty days with only a few changes of clothes. Twenty days without ice cream, steak, nor spinach.
“Here we are twenty days into it. On day 3 it was really like holy cow, we still have a long way to go, but now it’s 20 days. It helps really being in the moment, one day at a time,” Sally said.

Sally is right. Out here, it really is one day at a time. It’s one “sked” (aka position report) at a time. It’s sailing with the conditions you have, and doing the ultimate best with them. It’s not thinking about day 26 and preparing the sails and boat for day 26 because then you’ll be slow. Out here, you have to deal with today.

Corinna Halloran, OBR
Team SCA

We’ve been thinking about all that has happened so far… And we realised that, not being in a confortable situation at the start has placed us where we are now. At least this is what Iker told me today, and that helped me understanding how and why we ended up in this situation.

Crossing the Doldrums was difficult cause the west paid off and caused Brunel and Abu Dhabi to open a gap.

Then, we chose to sail close to land, off the Brazilian coast, which is usually not that difficult, but the wind was really not consistent. We thought it was a safer option because the St Helena High was placed south at that time, but we didn’t end up sailing fast enough. Basically, after the Doldrums, we’ve been in the wrong place.
We are far from the end of the race and we can still move up. We have six days of sailing ahead of us and we won’t let go.

Francisco Vignale, OBR


11-03-2014, 09:02 AM

ALICANTE, Spain – Dongfeng Race Team has suffered significant damage after part of the control lines for the masthead gennaker sail broke, but the Chinese boat continues to challenge for Leg 1 victory in the Volvo Ocean Race after pulling off a rapid repair job to retain second place.

The setback happened at 1800 UTC on Sunday when part of the sheeting system snapped and the high loads held in that line were released across the leeward deck, causing significant damage.

There were no injuries but damage to the boat include a broken wheel which will handicap Charles Caudrelier’s crew when they gybe, the push pit (the protective bars at the back of the boat), aft stanchions (the posts on the side of the boat at the back) and a satellite antenna.



Since the boat is loaded with communication kit, the latter issue should not be a major handicap.

The team lost about five miles during the half hour it took to get the sail under control, assess the damage and get back up to full speed.

During that time, the boat speed dropped to around 12 knots from 22 knots.

Syndicate head Mark Turner commented: “The rest of the night, while wet, cold and fast, passed well for our guys and they have maintained second place this morning just eight miles from the leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing at sunrise this morning, having retaken a few of the miles lost.”

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), Dongfeng and third-placed Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) are powering along at an average of more than 25 knots in the icy Southern Atlantic wind. Just 34 nautical miles (nm) separate the first three boats.

They are approaching 750nm to go before the welcoming sights of Table Mountain, one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World, and Cape Town finally pass into view after a thrilling opening leg of racing.

Dongfeng Race Team will be particularly relieved to see the port after bouncing back from a broken rudder earlier in the leg, plus this latest setback. The current estimated date for arrival is Thursday (November 6).

At 0630 UTC/GMT today, Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) were lying in fifth spot, 142.1nm adrift of the lead, with MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) 308nm behind and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) in seventh, trailing Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing by 442.6nm.

PD Staff
11-03-2014, 09:54 AM

It’s quarter to eight somewhere in the Southern Ocean, slightly more than 1,000 nautical miles from Cape Town. In a quarter of an hour, Gerd-Jan “Johnny” Poortman will start his shift on deck, which is completely awash. Icy water is streaming through the cockpit. The men who are still on shift and will shortly disappear below are wearing fireman’s helmets on deck. “That’s really something to look forward to – four hours of playing outside,” grumbles the usually so positive Johnny.




He sits with his back braced against the hatchway in the middle of the boat. If you don’t do that, you can be thrown into the forward part of the boat if Team Brunel nose-dives into a big wave. “You know, maybe we don’t deserve to beat Abu Dhabi. We’ve been losing quite some ground for 24 hours.” He swallows the last mouthful of his freeze-dried noodles.

He pulls on his wet sailing suit and zips his life-line shut. “But we’re still going to try and beat them! And now back to work and duck freezing waves for another four hours.”

Stephan Coopers


PD Staff
11-03-2014, 10:39 AM
The best of the OBR's blogs


NOVEMBER 3, 2014
It’s a quarter to eight, somewhere in the Southern Ocean. A little over a 1,000 miles from Cape Town. In about 15 minutes Gerd-Jan “Johnny” Poortman starts his watch on a completely flooded deck.
The waves of ice water splash through the cockpit and the men who are about to end their shift are wearing helmets. “Really feel like playing out there for four hours”, grumbles Johnny, usually a positive and funny character.

He’s leaning on the hatch in the middle of the boat. The hatch is closed because of the heavy weather conditions: a nose-dive could throw you on the floor. “You know, maybe we don’t deserve to win from Abu Dhabi, the’ve been gaining on us already for 24 hours”, he says eating the last bite of his freeze-dried noodles.
He puts on his weather gear, which is still wet, and zips his lifeline up. ”But we are gonna try; another four hours of headwind against the waves”.

Stefan Coppers, OBR
Team Brunel

It’s a seriously difficult one and I apologize for the typos now. I think today I’ll keep this blog short and the reason being it’s very, very difficult to write at 32 knots. So here’s the run down in order of what fans we have out there:

Firstly you hardcore sailing buffs; this is the Volvo Ocean Race and I see now why they take a good break between races. It’s conditions like today that both break you and make you. I have watched this race so many years now, probably since I was eight. I envied those guys, watching as the walls of water blasted across the decks, I thought, WOW! This is so dam cool, I wish I could have a go.

Well here I am writing from the thick of it. The new Volvo Ocean 65s are more comparable to submarines, in fact today we probably were sailing faster under the waves than over. It’s so dam wet… I can describe and the video or photos don’t do it justice. I guess it will remain an experience best left to a first hand event. Seriously, we are absolutely sending the hell out of it; we had an A3 up, J2 and one reefed main. The speeds earlier where a consistent 25 knots in 22 knots of wind, (a building swell) we then peeled to a MHO, J2 and a reefed main (a much longer swell and bigger sea state now). We regularly see the clocks hit 30+ boat speed.

Today I signed out the hatch to Nicolai what speed, he handed a three two back, ya just being very casual that we were doing 32 knots. All I can say to any Under 30 out there, do whatever you need to do to get on this race, it’s a once in a life time experience.

Brian Carlin, OBR
Team Vestas Wind


Much like the anticipation for the arrival of the first big snowfall, for weeks we have been “patiently” waiting to arrive to the Southern Ocean—to sail in the fast, heavy conditions with the Albatross. Now it’s a reality and it’s like a dream come true for all of us. Coupled with the excitement of gaining hour by hour on the leading boats, we’ve been like little kids playing in the snow. Today, we’ve been on cloud nine.
The waves out here are, as promised, relentless. Over and over again, cold waves crash over the bow, jumping over the cabin top, crashing into the cockpit, and bouncing off winches and sailors before heading back off the boat. Sometimes, when the foam splashes up it reaches five feet in the air. There’s water everywhere.
We’re sailing with one of our biggest sails, the A3. We’re sailing in good pressure, keeping the boat averaging speeds of 19 knots. We’re surfing over and down waves. It’s simply amazing to be outside, sailing amongst the Albatross and other sea birds.

Corinna Halloran, OBR
Team SCA

Every bright blue wave that Azzam punches through carries a huge wall of foaming white water rushing across the deck. It can’t be fought. One can only gasp for breath as the cold water takes your breath away and for a moment you’re underwater. Still, ripping across the water at 25 knots while leading the Volvo Ocean Race towards Cape Town, every wave is a reminder to the guys why they’re here in the Southern Ocean.

For Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, there’s an efficiency onboard pushing everything forward. In the tough conditions, no energy is being wasted. Everyone is sleeping – or trying to – it’s a ghost town down below. Every moment you’re not eating or rehydrating you’re in a bunk.
**Apologies for any grammatical errors. It’s hard to type right now!**

Matt Knighton, OBR
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race
The sustained 22-24 knots of the last 24 hours have been a lot of fun, there’s no question, but we couldn’t get south with it like the four leaders have, and they’ve stepped to the quick side of a nasty ridge of high pressure we’re desperately trying to outrun.

Unfortunately it will overtake us--it’s inevitable--and when it does two things are fairly certain: we’ll watch the group to the south extend, and we’ll watch Mapfre and SCA compress from far behind. There’s a good chance we’ll be the “monkeys in the middle,” wallowing for a day or two in no wind while we lose big on both sides.

Or, not. Weather models for this stretch of ocean are largely inaccurate with so few actual observations. And our far more direct course saves heaps of miles on the route to the south; if we can find some wind to the north, if the high shifts south, there’s always the outside chance we can sneak into South Africa ahead of the fleet. That’s the way we have to be thinking, at least. But for now, a few more hours of nice downwind sailing before the wind tapers, and quickly. Giddyup!

Amory Ross, OBR
Team Alvimedica


From the moment the wind started to increase, during the night, we’re drenched. Waves over the deck, constant spray, damped hands because of the water, wet clothes, tired faces, and the cold.
That’s what we’ve experienced on MAPFRE on November 2.
Things came to life, and appeared in the most unusual places. A good example is my media kit, with the cameras, lenses and accessories – it appeared at 4 in the morning, on windward, at the bow.
Francisco Vignale, OBR



NOVEMBER 2, 2014
Today was like one of those days growing up where your mom told you: “After school today we will go get ice cream.” Remember those days? Such a rarity; such a treat! Eight hours of school went by at a snail’s pace. You bragged about it to everyone on the school bus, at lunch, and in class. Your whole day revolved around getting ice cream after school.

Today was like one of those days for us on Team SCA, except instead of ice cream it was wind and the opportunity to finally “send it.” (Send it: hand off the E-brake, pedal to the metal, full throttle sailing—fast, fast, fast). All day we talked about the coming wind and the low pressure we were supposed to catch, stay in and ride east towards Cape Town. It was the topic of conversation during lunch, on deck, and below deck at the navigation station.

To say we’ve had just a bit of bad wind luck is an extreme understatement—we’ve had monumentally bad luck.
However, as I type, the leaders are parked hundreds of miles ahead in 3-10 knots of wind (and expected to stay parked for at least nine hours), Alvimedica lost a lot of miles in six hours, and we are steaming along at 15knots, hopefully riding this low pressure for the next 24-36 hours. Whoa. Talk about the best ice cream treat ever!

Corinna Halloran, OBR
Team SCA

Francisco Vignale/MAPFRE/Volvo Ocean Race
We are heading east, said Nico Lunven this morning. The wind is not really steady, 12 to 15 knots. This is our bearing unless a shift forces us to gybe. We’re expecting the wind to pick up in the afternoon.
The last few hours have been calmed, we’ve seen a couple of albatross, and in the morning Ñeti and Anthony did some manteinance work on the keel. In the afternoon we got caught in a fishing net. Michael and Carlos managed to get rid of it without even touching it because it was full with squid hooks.
In the afternoon the temperature grew colder, fog came in and so did the wind, which built up to 22 knots and stayed till dawn at least. On board we are all well, tired but still wanting to catch the fleet, we hope to get the chance to pass them. In the meantime, we keep sailing east.

Francisco Vignale, OBR

Imagine… You've just finished your watch. You’ve spent two hours in “standby” mode, fixing things, eating, and resting. And at last, you can enjoy your two hours “OFF”, meaning off watch, to fall in the arms of Morpheus… But in the middle of it, a guy comes shake you up, shouting:

“Everybody on deck, we’re changing for the Mast Head!”

You’ve three minutes to get dressed and go on deck to change sails. And if that wasn’t enough, Kevin had to go on the bowsprit. The whole thing drenched with cold, 10 degree water.
Admit it – there are better ways to wake up.
Then, the manoeuvre, the stacking that comes with it, and finally the right to go back to the bunk. Except that half an hour went by, and there are now only 20 minutes left before you got to go back on deck for your watch. That’s nothing. No luck. The following watch won’t be bothered. But Kevin and Wolf will have to wait for six more hours.

Yann Riou, OBR
Dongfeng Race Team


As Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing chased the sunrise on the eastern horizon, the daybreak signaled the looming battle to come. A strong frontal system is forecasted that’s expected to drench the fleet in 30 knots of wind and push the teams through the final stretch to the finish.

The speed was already building onboard and the quickened pace was breathing new life into Azzam after a light and shift night. The latest sked showed Dongfeng had made big gains in the South, effectively narrowing the lead to less than 10 miles.

The competitiveness has jumped to another level on deck. The guys’ awareness of the situation is starting to grind into their daily rhythms. They know they can last 3 more days until the finish despite sleep deprivation and rest. It’s all down to who wants it more.

Matt Knighton, OBR
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

While we have ventured over to the north side of the 40 degree line its still getting colder. I can see my breath at night as I type my blogs and edit the videos. Poor Tom Johnson looks even colder every time I pass his bunk, he told me this morning he’s wearing everything he owns. I feel his plight; I too now wear almost all my available clothing. My feet feel the worse, well I can't confirm or deny that statement, as I haven’t had full feeling in them for a day now.
The cold must also be affecting Peter’s brain, twice today he woke and attempted to put on his gear to go on watch, twice I told him go back to sleep. An early attempt at 17.30 turned into a second attempt at 18:30 where he had his socks on before realising he had another hour before he was required.

Brian Carlin, OBR
Team Vestas Wind


The current 24-hour record for ‘distance sailed by a monohull’ was set on this stretch of ocean by Ericsson 4 during the 2008-2009 Volvo Ocean Race. The running joke onboard yesterday was that we’d surely be setting records for “distance sailed,” just for the fewest. There’s no doubt it is unusual, the weather we’re seeing. That the High has settled so far south is the root of all this evil, and it impedes any consistency to our wanted, to our needed, winds.

And so we wait.
Amory Ross, OBR
Team Alvimedica

11-05-2014, 07:08 AM


11-05-2014, 09:51 AM

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing win by just 12 minutes

- Dongfeng Race Team chase Azzam to the finish

ALICANTE, Spain, Nov 5 – Ian Walker (GBR) and his Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew have barely snatched a wink of sleep for nearly 48 hours, but they will surely be celebrating deep into the night after an epic first leg victory in the Volvo Ocean Race on Wednesday.

There have been many close finishes in the 41-year history of the event, but few will have been quite so tense for the victors, who have been feeling the hot breath of Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) down their necks for the best part of a week in the 6,487-nautical mile (nm) stage.



Even with the finish under Table Mountain in Cape Town in sight 2nm away, Walker could not relax, with wind in perilously short supply and the Chinese boat able to close again before Azzam finally claimed the hardest fought of victories.

The crossed the line at 1510 UTC, just 12 minutes before Dongfeng, after 25 days, three hours and 10 minutes of sailing.

The win is a personal triumph for 44-year-old Walker. The Briton was forced to motor miserably back into Alicante on the first night of the opening leg in 2011-12 after a Mediterranean storm dismasted his boat.

This time, he and the crew have barely made an error since setting out with the rest of the fleet on October 11 from Alicante, and their Volvo Ocean 65 has withstood everything that the Med and the Atlantic could throw at them.

But they still could not shake off Caudrelier’s crew, who tried all manner of manoeuvres, some under the cover of darkness, to get the better of the front-runners.


Walker, red-eyed after sleep deprivation for so long, was finally able to celebrate surely one of the sweetest wins of a career, which also includes two Olympic silver medals.

"It's quite emotional actually,” Walker told Race HQ, minutes after crossing the line.

"I didn't think I would be - but that last couple of hours, they threw everything at us," he smiled, "We've had people ride on our heels for the last 10 days or so. I must congratulate Dongfeng, an absolutely fantastic performance."

In contrast, Caudrelier looked like he had thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the chase and the opportunity to prove a point to those who doubted that his crew, that included two Chinese rookies, could seriously compete at the front of the fleet.

Dongfeng Race Team’s second place was all the more remarkable since twice their progress was slowed through damage to the boat; first through a smashed rudder and then through a shattered padeye, which caused a domino-effect of damage including a broken wheel.

Repeatedly over the past week, they have nibbled away at Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s lead, closing to within three nm shortly after daybreak on Wednesday.

But Walker and his team had sailed too well for too long to give victory away after such a struggle, and the crowd packing Cape Town’s famous V&A Waterfront gave them a reception they surely will never forget.

For the rest of the fleet, it’s now a battle for the minor places and equally hard-won points. Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) should take third spot later on Wednesday with Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) looking good for fourth.

Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) are expected to be too far ahead to be caught in fifth, but MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) could yet have a big tussle for sixth and seventh spots before their expected arrival in Cape Town on Friday.

PD Staff
11-05-2014, 01:00 PM

Leaving the safer Mediterranean sea behind, the teams are sailing along the African coast discovering the perils of a not so off-shore racing.
It’s also time for the crew to realise that the lack of winds may mean that they are in a longer leg than planned.

Dutch Rudder
11-05-2014, 02:57 PM
Gotta admit the Abu Dhabi and Dongfeng were not who I thought would be at the top of the heap.

Goes to show how little I know about the crews.

11-06-2014, 06:04 PM





Cleveland Steamer
11-07-2014, 07:11 AM

everybody is in now!

11-07-2014, 12:35 PM
Allmedical would have won if Noble was onboard!

Prince of Whales
11-12-2014, 12:12 PM
Any word if Matt has been upgraded?

11-12-2014, 03:14 PM

This week it's all about decision, competition, and tradition. The teams need to make the right decision as they approach the Cape Verde Island which will determine their entry into the dreaded Doldrums. For the new members of the crews having their first equator crossing, it's time to atone for their sin and meet King Neptune.

11-13-2014, 03:09 PM

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 13 – Volvo Ocean Race’s seven-strong fleet are to sail all the way from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi for Leg 2 after the event’s security experts gave the all-clear this week following a big decrease in piracy.

In the 2011-12 edition, the boats were shipped from the Maldives to Sharjah during the same stage because of the threat of attack from pirates in the Indian Ocean. They were also transported over the same stretch by the ship for Leg 3.

Since then the problem of piracy in the Indian Ocean has decreased dramatically following pan-national intervention and the only activity that has been recorded recently has been in the far west, well outside the route of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet.

Race CEO Knut Frostad emphasised that he and Race Director Jack Lloyd would continue to work with the event’s maritime security experts, monitoring the situation on a daily basis.

“If anything changes regarding the risks on this leg – and the next – then we can change the plans at any time,” he said. “The safety of the sailors is, of course, paramount.

“We are not experts in this area of maritime security but we work closely with those who are and their advice has been that we’re good to take this course of action.”

He added that there would be exclusion zones that would keep the fleet well clear of any possible problems but these were much less restrictive than the sailors were advised prior to Leg 1 in early October.

“The boats will now have more and better options to choose their strategy, with better angles than was anticipated before the start in Alicante,” he said.

“We will be following the boats as normal on the official Race Tracker, showing their correct position,” Frostad continued. “This leg is going to be just as exciting as Leg 1.”

On paper, the leg is likely to be slightly shorter than first envisaged – up to three days – although the nature of the changeable weather conditions means the spread of potential arrival dates is wide.

Ian Millen, Chief Operating Officer for Dryad Maritime, which offers expert advice to the race, said: “Since 2011 the level of piracy has changed markedly. In fact, in the route that the fleet is going, there have been no reports of piratical activity in 2014 and considerably longer than that.

“It is impossible, of course, to remove the risk completely – and we and the race are never complacent - but should an incident happen on the route we could change course, among other measures that could be taken.”

Millen said a combination of factors had reduced the levels of piracy around the world including better security support on the water, more armed guards onboard vessels and much improved compliance to security advice.

The fleet leaves for Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, November 19 for the 6,125 nautical mile (nm) second leg. In all, the boats will cover 38,487nm, visiting 11 ports in total on every continent. The race concludes in Gothenburg, Sweden on June 27, 2015.

Prince of Whales
11-13-2014, 04:24 PM
Just saw Captain Phillips the other night for 1st time.

Some seriously f&%ked up shit was going down off Somalia.

But the area between Abu Dhabi and Sanya is no safe haven either.

All things considered, is the side trip worth it? The Southern Ocean was always the most intriguing part of the VOR and now it is minimized.

IOR Geezer
11-14-2014, 10:39 AM
Chasing the money. They sell more Volvos in the Middle East and China, than New Zealand apparently.

The Flasher
11-14-2014, 11:03 AM
Mr Bean is legend!

11-14-2014, 01:45 PM


Some sweet images from Cape Town as teams participated in the practice race yesterday.










Credits: Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race, Francisco Vignale,
Corinna Halloran, Matt Knighton

11-15-2014, 11:25 AM
Charlie Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race.


CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 15 - Ian Walker (GBR) and his Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew became the confirmed kings of Cape Town on Saturday, clinching the in-port race less than a week after arriving here as Leg 1 winners.

The victory, by just over a minute, leaves them on top of the In-port Race Series too, and bursting with confidence for Leg 2 which starts on Wednesday (November 19).

Only in the sprint to the finish line from the final mark on the eight-mile course on Saturday, did Walker's men look under threat with Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) breathing down their necks.

The fleet was split from the start in challenging conditions in Table Bay, under the famous Table Mountain, with winds jumping dramatically between 12 and 20 knots and rain clouds threatening throughout.

Walker's team from the Emirates have already shown that they can make the right decisions under the toughest of pressure, by edging out Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) by just 12 minutes in a thrilling Leg 1 climax last week after 25 days of sailing from Alicante to Cape Town.

Gilles Martin-Raget/Team Alvimedica

Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race

After some 20 minutes of racing on Saturday, they looked to have victory in the bag, especially after one of their rivals for the in-port series prize, Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), suffered a tear in their headsail.

The battle for second place soon grabbed the attention of most with Team SCA and Team Brunel in a thrilling showdown after the Dutch found a burst of pressure midway round.

Bekking had earlier told a press conference that the in-port series was not a big priority for him.

But he and his crew were plainly giving it 100 percent as they scrambled with Team SCA for the second rung of the podium.

A problem with a gennaker failing to unfurl cleanly finally scuppered the efforts of the women's crew to keep Bekking and co at bay and Team Brunel made one final effort to catch Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

Once again, Walker was ready for the challenge and by the finish line had a winning margin of a couple of hundred metres from Team Brunel with Team SCA in third.

Gilles Martin-Raget/Team Alvimedica

Results Cape town In-Port Race:
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing - 15:06:57 -1pt
2. Team Brunel (NED) 15:08:00 - 2pts
3. Team SCA (SWE) 15:09:04 - 3pts
4. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) 15:09:22 - 4pts
5. Team Vestas Wind (DEN) 15:11:25 - 5pts
6. Team Alvimedica (USA/TUR) 15:16:14 - 6pts
7. MAPFRE (ESP) 15:18:32 - 7pts

11-15-2014, 11:53 AM
http://www.volvooceanrace.com/static/assets/cropped/307/m30608_crop4_360x360_proportional_14160582132466.j pg (http://www.volvooceanrace.com/static/assets/cropped/307/m30608_crop8_1024x576_proportional_14160582137125. jpg)
© 2014 Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race

Table Mountain is the background for sailing. The race pictures made me look and read for more than a moment.

PD Staff
11-19-2014, 10:21 AM

Big winds with 20 knot plus sustained and larger gusts mixed with massive, fleet swallowing holes to make the start of leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race an intense and exciting beginning as you will likely encounter!



Ian Roman/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.





all photos by Ainhoa Sanchez, Charlie Shoemaker /Volvo Ocean Race except where noted


11-19-2014, 11:05 AM


Gilles just uploaded a sweet selection...



Dumass Head
11-19-2014, 11:09 AM
Awesome stuff. Any cyclones awaiting on the visible horizon?

11-19-2014, 11:55 AM
Awesome stuff. Any cyclones awaiting on the visible horizon?

Not sure, the virtual charts has the slowskis... here be the official reportee:

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 19 – Skippers of the seven boats in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, which set out for the 6,125 nautical mile (nm) Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, left with warnings of possible cyclone activity and tropical storms ringing in their ears.

Race organisers took late measures to keep the 66 sailors away from the very worst of the weather on the Indian Ocean with a new exclusion zone leading to the Seychelles.

There were already zones in place to avoid icebergs in the Southern Ocean and the more unlikely menace of pirate attack further down the route on the east coast of the Indian Ocean.

The latter zone was being kept secret from the public to avoid the possibility of the fleet being intercepted.

From the very start on Wednesday (1800 local/1600 UTC), the sailors were given a taste of things to come with gusts of up to 35 knots kicking up a procession of white-capped waves.

It was a question of 'don't break your boat' as most opted for conservative sail choices, while they wrestled to keep them under control and intact.

For the second leg start in a row, Team Brunel led the fleet out of port after wrestling the lead, first from MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), and then Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) who were well in the hunt.

The fleet will continue to sail in these gale-force conditions, which Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright (USA) described before the start as ‘heinous’.

“I think we’re all going to have to be pretty conservative,” he told the skippers’ press conference, just over 24 hours earlier. “This could be the worst sea state these boats have ever seen.”

Favourites for the leg are Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), who have barely made a false move since setting out from Alicante on October 11.

They followed their 12-minute win over Dongfeng Race Team in Leg 1 on November 5, by securing victory on Saturday in the Cape Town in-port race.

When asked if there were such a thing as ‘home advantage’ in sailing, Walker, 44, was determined to keep his crew's feet on the ground - as well as his own.

“First we have to get there,” he smiled. “I’ll be happy just to get within range and then arrive in Abu Dhabi. There’s a fantastic welcome for everybody in store once we get there, that’s for sure.”

Team Vestas Wind surprised onlookers when a choir on board their support boat burst into song just prior to the start. Their message was loud and clear: 'There's an even more important race we must win - to save the environment'.

Leg 2 is expected to take between 22 to 28 days to complete, depending on conditions. The boats will remain in Abu Dhabi over Christmas and the New Year before setting sail again on January 3 for Sanya, China.

Built to List
11-19-2014, 12:06 PM
Awesome stuff. Any cyclones awaiting on the visible horizon?

http://www.meteoearth.com/ is a pretty cool application for watching the weather!

11-20-2014, 10:11 AM

Team Alvimedica have had a flying start in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.
As the boat slowly crept from under the shadow of Table Mountain the wind changed drastically and Team Alvimedica were sailing at 40 knots!

PD Staff
11-20-2014, 04:21 PM

Kissing with Capey
Can you remember one of your first dates? At the end of your date you managed to grab a kiss.

But the next date, if you thought you could pick up where you left off, and proceed immediately to tongues, then you were wrong. You just had to start all over again! That is how it is with our navigator Andrew "Capey" Cape.

Capey is a living legend. Gerd-Jan Poortman says, "He has so much experience. He is requested for each race. Not only doe he have a lot of wit, but he also sails very well."

"However, he is also notoriously difficult to interview. Witty and funny, yes - but once the red light of a camera is on, he crawls into his shell."
So don't get me wrong: I do not want to kiss Capey. For a start, the man is drinking coffee all day. Bah! And onboard, some sailors only clean their teeth once a week.

Then there's those big rough hands that so easily turn the winch handle around. No, kissing with HIM is not on my wishlist.

BUT... when I went to interview him at the end of Leg 1, the Australian legend was like putty in my hands. I could ask him any question and he would answer talkatively.
Let's just say that the stop-over in Cape Town seems to have drastically reduced my chances of "kissing" Capey.

"Why is it so hard to start in Cape Town?," I ask in good spirits just before the start.
"Big mountain between us and the wind," he mutters without looking into the camera.

“And what is your tactic for the start of this leg?” I reply.

"That's a f**king book of work, mate"

... I click my camera off. Capey grins at me: "First, bring me a bunch of flowers," I see him thinking.

"You know," laughs Gerd-Jan Poortman. "Capey, he doesn’t show his love easily. You need to try and hug him first before kissing."

Eight months to go. Whatever happens: I will conquer the heart of Capey.

Stefan Coppers
OBR, Team Brunel


What a start !
Well, safe to say that was a Volvo Ocean Race departure that will stay in our memories. With fluctuating winds from 0-40 knots we have an epic sundown as we sailed away from Table Mountain – who was also dressed for the occasion with a thick cloud hanging over the top.

From where we were standing the start looked pretty epic, we cannot wait to see the footage but I guess that’s something that will have to wait. This little journey is going to take up to 22,24,28 days – perhaps even 30 ? At least that’s how many days food we have packed.

"The goal was to be safe. We are not first, but we manage to get out of this without breaking anything. Now we can race." (Charles)

And that’s exactly what we did. We raced within proximity of the fleet. After a lot of manoeuvres and trimming we’ve made our way to the front of the fleet, not great to watch but it did the job. We are still sailing upwind but the boat isn't bouncing too much.

Have a nice day,
Yann Riou
OBR, Dongfeng Race Team


I find myself once again adapting to a routine. This leg start was easier to find our groove, when you know what to expect it can be both and advantage and disadvantage.
I woke on race day morning to Table bBy full of white roaring water, I knew there was 35+ knots out there (conditions you wouldn't even put your mother-in-law out in, no matter how much you disliked her) The fact that I had the experience of what its like to sail these boats in such conditions made it even more difficult for me. I definitely built this start up more in my mind. When we finally did leave the dock it was actually nowhere as bad as I was expecting.

Our spectator boat threw us a little surprise also, we sailed by to see our supporters and they had a choir of singers kick up an inspirational tune to get us on our way. I have to say it was very surreal to have a choir singing at full belt as we circled them under one of the most iconic mountains in the world.

Our start was far from ideal, technical issues caused us problems with furling the J2. Mistakes are and can be made when its blowing 35kts. We caught the pack very quickly as we all know Table Bay can be a cruel place to sail.

Night fell very quickly and shortly we found ourselves following our usual patterns. Life becomes very simple again, 4hrs to work, 4hrs to sleep eat and rest (and that's if you can get the 4hrs).

We are looking out our routing this morning and making decisions based on new weather models. So that’s it from me for my first short blog, no doubt I will have more information later when the first 24hrs at sea develops.

Brian Carlin
OBR, Team Vestas Wind


I will not lie: I was pretty nervous to begin leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race (Mom called it ‘Stage Fright’); I think the whole team was pretty nervous. Here we are, having confidently completed the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race—after 27 days at sea!—in waters most of us are experienced sailing in, but now we are heading into unknown territory.

Now, we are about to sail for another 25-30 day, and for some reason that feels a bit daunting. So, before the race began (when we were still on land), it was really hitting hard that we’re only at the beginning. But when the gun went off, those feelings all disappeared.

What a start of Leg 2! It’s pretty rare to see wind gusts up to 40 knots, and an average wind speed of 25 knots, then no wind and total “park up” (all the boats stopped in one spot), and then back up to good breeze. However, the start of Leg 2 offered all the wind conditions you could want.

Corinna Halloran



Well, now we know what it feels like to be shot from of a cannon! That was utter insanity. When the gun went I think there was almost no wind at all—two knots or something—but as we slowly crept out from under the shadow of Table Mountain it changed drastically and we were soon reaching off towards the first mark in almost 40 knots. Zero to one hundred, of sorts, and then back to zero, and then we were off again to the south. It was all a lot of fun but there’s no question—things were fairly marginal! “Full fever,” as they say [somewhere] in Australasia…

Truth be told, that was probably the most dramatic way to leave Cape Town that anyone could have drafted up, like, in the history of leg departures. So unbelievably memorable. Absolutely ripping around Table Bay with the huge spectator fleet in tow, the sheer amount of water over the deck--all within their view--the closeness of the competition, and of course—the scenic backdrop: Table Mountain with the famed “table top cloud” washing down its flank. One of those things that I will never forget. I can’t speak for anyone else, but it’s clarity during moments like those that I know I’ll never have doing anything else. Hard to imagine ever moving on from this race.

But here we are! Already tired, somewhat wet, and definitely salty. Safe to say that the dust is shaken and we’re all pretty settled after a start like that. We’re now in our upwind mode, pretty quick into our routines, and excited for a good (long) leg in front of us here. As much as we enjoyed our time in lovely Cape Town we’re all pretty psyched to be back on the water again, psyched for the next opportunity to prove what we’re made of. “Hammer down,” as they say [somewhere] in America.

Amory Ross
OBR, Team Alvimedica



Two weeks ago, when Cape Town welcomed us with open arms, we would’ve had no idea it would send us away with such a fierce goodbye. With winds gusting in Table Bay up to 40 knots, the splash around the in-port portion of the Leg 2 start was some of the hairiest sailing we’ve seen yet. Juxtapose those conditions with a magnificent view of Table Mountain at dusk and the scene was surreal—even if we were getting sandblasted in the face with cold water every wave.

Starting another 25+ day leg isn’t easy for the guys, especially when you’re the last boat around the course looking at everyone’s stern. However, Ian was more than happy to play such a wicked start conservatively so as not to break anything.
“You didn’t hear anyone in Cape Town talking about the start in Alicante”, said Ian. “We kind of knew the start was going to be pretty irrelevant so we decided to save our gear and cruise around. We saw both Mapfre and and SCA gybe onto their runners so I wouldn’t be surprised if they broke their main sail battens. Vestas might have damaged their J2. Still we feel relaxed…maybe too relaxed.”
As the sun set, the towering coastline of South Africa lit up into colors of pink and orange as clouds fell over the cliffs. We began picking off boats slowly as our position at the back of the fleet enabled us to view the breeze down course as it played off the sails of the other boats ahead.

Perhaps a bit of prophecy, but before the start of the race, our guest on-board, Francois (can’t spell his last name please help), Captain of the South African Springbok Rugby Team, had reminded Ian, “Remember, the only thing better than winning, is coming from behind to win.”

Matt Knighton
OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Hi everyone, here we are back onboard Mapfre in Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi. I hope that with this blog I can transport you to our boat for a little while before your day starts.
First and foremost, the whole crew would like to thank the offshore team for leaving the boat in perfect conditions for this new phase. To each and every one of them, a big hug and thank you!
What a great start! 40 to 0 knots, full main, curls, J3, J2, J1, MH 0. All this in less than 1 hour after the start. An incredible atmosphere, and brilliant conditions.
The sun has set, and we are heading south with the rest of the boats in sight. Great mood onboard, the evening is almost perfect except for a few clouds which cover the sun.
The focus of the evening was to head south and fast, we needed to get away from the coast and variable winds.
The two new crew members Jean Luc and Rob adapted perfectly, it shows that they have great experience and act naturally on board.
Jean Luc had a small cut on his finger while stacking, but it is not serious and there was no need to call the doctors on land.
On the other hand the boat feels good, feels fast upwind, and most importantly there's lots of smiles onboard.

Francisco Vignale

November 19, 2014
Francisco Vignale

From the moment the wind started to increase, during the night, we’re drenched. Waves over the deck, constant spray, damped hands because of the water, wet clothes, tired faces, and the cold.
That’s what we’ve experienced on MAPFRE on November 2.
Things came to life, and appeared in the most unusual places. A good example is my media kit, with the cameras, lenses and accessories – it appeared at 4 in the morning, on windward, at the bow.

Much like the anticipation for the arrival of the first big snowfall, for weeks we have been “patiently” waiting to arrive to the Southern Ocean—to sail in the fast, heavy conditions with the Albatross. Now it’s a reality and it’s like a dream come true for all of us. Coupled with the excitement of gaining hour by hour on the leading boats, we’ve been like little kids playing in the snow. Today, we’ve been on cloud nine.
The waves out here are, as promised, relentless. Over and over again, cold waves crash over the bow, jumping over the cabin top, crashing into the cockpit, and bouncing off winches and sailors before heading back off the boat. Sometimes, when the foam splashes up it reaches five feet in the air. There’s water everywhere.

We’re sailing with one of our biggest sails, the A3. We’re sailing in good pressure, keeping the boat averaging speeds of 19 knots. We’re surfing over and down waves. It’s simply amazing to be outside, sailing amongst the Albatross and other sea birds.

November 19, 2014
Corinna Halloran

11-21-2014, 10:20 AM

Team SCA has been battling the last of the Agulhas current overnight which brought big and confused seas, it has been a tough day with some big lessons learnt and they are putting the learning into practice as they close the gap on the fleet ahead. The boat is now sailing fast covering over 500 miles in the last 24 hours!

11-21-2014, 10:25 AM

The team hit rough seas as they cross the Agulhas Current. Totally worth watching just to see Pascal Bidégorry's face at 1'39!

11-21-2014, 11:26 AM

Team Alvimedica continues to lead the pack in Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. Racing at an average of 25 knots, this is were the excitement and adrenaline start to build up!

PD Staff
11-21-2014, 03:40 PM
Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race

Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind/Volvo Ocean Race.

Marc Bow/Volvo Ocean Race

Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race.

Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind

Marc Bow/Volvo Ocean Race

Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race

Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind

Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race.

Stefan Coppers/Team Brunel

PD Staff
11-21-2014, 04:17 PM
The Indian Ocean spares nobody. The wind bashes 28 knots and 24 knots speed on the counter. Every ten seconds, Team Brunel drills into a tower high wave.
Masses of water flowing over the deck. The safety line is vital to protect crew from sweeping off the boat. Several times the line rescues slithering men on deck. Not only on deck is it wet - in the hull it is an aquarium.

This doesn’t spoil the fun and high spirits on the boat of Team Brunel: eight smiling faces.

And one green face. The face of the author of this extremely short piece.
See you tomorrow.

Stefan Coppers
OBR, Team Brunel



Since yesterday morning to navigate the conditions has been fantastic. Heading southeast, MAPFRE is eating miles.

It's just how it was in Leg 1 - all the boats are together and we can see each other. Alvimedica at our bow, Dongfeng, Abu Dhabi and SCA to our stern.

The current is doing 5 knots, and due to that, the deck was like a submarine. Lots of water on deck, and inside the ship. The last 24 hrs has been about bailing and trying to keep the boat in order as much as possible. But life is hard and everything jumps around in all directions.

We're all getting into the routine slowly - little sleep - and that's felt more when there are such conditions.

At night, Ñeti was sleeping in the bunk above mine and a wave that blew the broke boat fasteners on the network that are glued and screwed to the wall. He ended up on me and holding it to avoid breaking the other.
Last night the wind held and we have an occasional wave surfed at 30 knots, 20 to 25 knots south going east. After this the conditions will be drier, less windy and the sea calmer.

Francisco Vignale

"We are not the king of the road right now!" (Charles)
For quite a few hours now, we can’t work out how to go faster, even to go the same speed as the others. It was the same thing for part of yesterday, and we can’t work it out. And now we’re in the Agulhas current. Wind against tide, a very messy sea state. Very uncomfortable conditions, although we are used to this. The night was a bit complicated, we took some water on board due to a hatch on deck not being completely closed, that probably lost us a mile. We’re trying to get it back, but we can’t !

Living at 23 knots [of boat speed]

Acceleration, brutal stop, heel from one side and then to the other suddenly. Life at 23 knots is stressful. When you are on deck, you manage to understand partly what is, and what is about, to happen. But inside the boat, its impossible to anticipate the movement of Dongfeng. During the night I wanted to make myself something to eat. I poured the yoghurt powder in to my bowl. At this precise moment the boat stopped suddenly as it plowed in to a wave. I had to let the bowl go and hold on to whatever I could to avoid becoming part of the forward bulkhead [the carbon fibre ‘structural wall’ in front of the galley area]. The bowl for its part though flew through the air, making sure it spread the powder everywhere it could on its way. Result : 15 minutes of cleaning, whilst carefully balancing myself. Annoyed, and the start of a weight watchers diet…

Yann Riou
OBR, Dongfeng Race Team
Go to team website

We have had the quietest 24hrs onboard Vestas Wind with comparison to the first leg. The team has just fallen into the previous patterns, sleep, sail, repeat.
It began as a very relaxed day, beginning with our position in the fleet, which almost felt irrelevant as we can see all the boats around us. I think my expectations were so bad for the first 24hrs I had myself convinced things were going to be tougher than they were.

I also felt pressure to deliver another leg of videos, photos and blogs; pressure I’ve never had previously. I suffer a lot in the first couple of days to find my routine again and some rhythm to life onboard. While I was green to what expect previously I now know what I didn’t know.

The first little incident of the day was our torn mainsail. We are certain the violent gybe we had during the in-port leg of the start has caused this damage. Tom (sail maker) quickly got to work with Peter to get repairs underway. When all the patches were ready and glue beginning to set it was time to drop the main and patch it up. The main being down did cost us some time, we are not sure exactly but its never ideal. A necessary evil and just as well as it was long before we encountered a building sea state and winds.

The Agulhas current was always going to be a stretch of water we needed to cross, today was that day. It’s arguably the strongest of ocean currents going northeast to southwest off the South African coast. Most shipping nowadays avoids this area as too many ships get damaged here, well I lie, they sink!

We had our day in the sun too, the breeze was back to its reliable 20-25’s and we where back in some familiar territory, WET CLOTHES! These boats are very wet at these speeds but it’s a tough one to call, its rough and impossible to do much without great effort but going fast in the right direction is really good too.

So for now the sun begins to set and SCA is to leeward of us, Nicolai is driving fast, very fast and we think it’s not long now before we can roll over the top of them. Despite the girls begin competition it’s nice to see other boats close around you. We are the only one’s mad enough to be out here today.

Brian Carlin
OBR, Team Vestas Wind

To summarize the last 24 hours in one word: change. The weather, the water, the sails, and our bodies are all equally (and rapidly) changing. The first full day at sea, we have experienced what some trips see in a week—if they’re lucky enough. However, that said, change can also be frustrating.

Our bodies are taking a massive hit right now as we try to get used to life offshore again. We’re all exhausted, and the conditions are not helping—everything is labor intensive—from cooking to getting dressed to grinding and helming. The sea state is pretty rough as well: sloppy and big.

However, the day did not begin like that. Actually, quite the opposite really: warm bright, blue sea and sky, reasonable wind but nothing intense—simply livable conditions. Now, comfortable living is long gone.

We have changed sails multiple times in order to make the most out of the wind, and making sure we eke out in front of Vestas Wind, who have been sitting all too comfortably next to us.

Fortunately, all of this will probably change back to somewhat more comfortable living in the next few days, or our bodies will finally acclimatize to living back on Team SCA!

November 21, 2014
Corinna Halloran
Go to team website

The fast southeast sailing continues but where excitement and adrenaline began—discomfort has taken over. We’re seeing an average of about 25 knots of wind but the sea state is making life somewhat miserable!

We first crossed the Agulhas current, a large south-moving stream of warm water originating in the Indian Ocean late yesterday, but ever since leaving the main volume of moving ocean we’ve been [literally] bouncing through gyres, boils, meanders, eddies—whichever you like to say most—of twisting ocean and it doesn’t seem to matter which way the current is heading, it’s moving strongly enough to make the waves stack up in all kinds of random directions. It is a hazardous path to travel as the boat is moving fast and unpredictably, and there are some fairly sudden and violent crashes.

Working is hard—it’s taken me the better part of an hour just to write this much—eating is harder (nobody is going near the freeze dried) and even the little things like pouring milk powder in a bowl for a dab of cereal can go horribly wrong: Charlie’s just “had one,” and the galley looks like a scene from Scarface after the milk container decided to make a run for it.

Amory Ross
OBR, Team Alvimedica

Whoever predicted we’d only have a few hours of intense weather at the start of the leg and that then it would abate should’ve extended their forecast. For the past 24 hours we’ve had the pedal to the floor getting thrashed about in 25-30 knots of wind. It’s the kind of thrashing that has left almost all the bags of food uneaten and the bowls of food that had been made have now spilled their orange contents on the floorboards.

To start out the slugfest yesterday, we crossed through the Agulhas current; a nasty bit of water South of Africa that pushed 3 knots of waves into us creating a sloppy sea state.

Having three other boats within visual range has given us a reference to gauge our performance relative to the other teams, however it’s also adding stress to the decision-making. There is an unfamiliar lack of chatter on board at the moment. Missing the sail change has reminded all the guys that each mile gained is not guaranteed.

Everything is wet already, the boat stinks of indescribable smells—we weren’t at this point in Leg 1 until day 20! And yet, the guys push forward happy to point out that this isn’t as bad as it can be.

Matt Knighton
OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

PD Staff
11-25-2014, 12:46 PM

Bino’s and Undies

We find ourselves glued to “Bino duty” as the Australians put it – for the rest of us normal people that’s a reference to binoculars. Alvimedica has been spotted just port side off the bow. It’s early UTC time but late afternoon here in the east. We have had a good sched recently, taking a minimum of 2 miles on the girls while chasing ADOR down very quickly with an 11-mile gain.
We are approaching a ridge of pressure (you might as well start googling all these terms as we will have plenty of meteorological terminology coming the next couple of weeks) but to give you a quick explanation it’s simply a transition from one direction of wind into a new direction of wind. Once the wind starts to knock us or head (which is normally a bad thing in sailing terms) we will change course to sail north-northwesterly again. This change in direction is good as it allows us to travel a more direct line to Abu Dhabi. The change is imminent so we patiently watch the American/Turkish boat ahead to see what will happen.

I asked Tom today did he feel anything different about this leg, he replied, “Ya one of the big changes this leg is ah, we are not going to Cape Town we are actually going to Abu Dhabi, that’s probably the biggest change.” I can at least confirm the sense of humour has not failed on this boat. He added, “It’s been easier to start and get back into it. Having done Leg 1 it’s easier to roll straight back into the routine so its all good so far.”

Nicolai brought up a random conversation today and it’s the name we have for underwear. A couple of interesting facts not just about underwear but clothing in general on boats: we don’t have a lot of it. Personally for the first leg I brought three pairs of underwear, two shorts, two t-shirts, two pairs of socks, and of course a fleece lined jacket. That’s it for over four weeks at sea, oh we don’t wash anything either.

What I love about this is when you arrive in port. All the families and friends are there waiting to greet you, what they seem to forget is that we smell, smell bad. No showers and two changes of clothes will make any mother do a double take on any close hugs! Mothers I have you warned for Abu Dhabi! Anyway I diverted slightly, we have a mixture of Danish, Irish, Kiwi, Australian, Dutch and Argentinian on our boat. You can imagine the dialogue and phrases can’t be any different (by the way before you ask; NO one and I mean NO one says “Top of the morning to you in Ireland, FACT), however the word for underwear varies.

So Nico calls them Reggies, Salty calls them boxers, Trae says Undies and Tom rarely wears them! How did Nico find such a bunch of weirdo’s and what’s worse why do I end up writing about such utter rubbish… anyway I thought you might find it interesting what sometimes we discuss on the boat! Underwear is not a priority but sometimes crews get jealous when you take that extra fresh pair out :) Don’t get me wrong, personal hygiene is important and I’ll tell you all about how we keep the bodies clean in another post.

Two Random Facts: 1. Having a couple of spoons of chocolate powder in your Muesli is the next best thing to a dessert for breakfast and 2. Having a Kit Kat and a coffee for breakfast breaks all the rules but who cares, my mother is 10,500 miles away :) (Mom I know I’m 30 years old but admit it you would not approve).So long for now Land People…

Brian Carlin
OBR, Team Vestas Wind


“Shitty night”
Laurent Pagès lets himself fall inside the boat. He is soaking wet. The day is starting outside: it’s pouring down and there is almost no wind.
“This was my shittiest night in this Volvo Ocean Race,” says the Frenchman with a sense of drama. “I’d choose a storm over this any time.”
On deck, Pablo Arrarte seconds his colleague’s feelings: “We’ve had a lot of clouds last night, looking full of wind. Every time, everybody went out of bed to change sails, but the only thing coming out of the clouds was rain. It was very dark: we could hardly see ourselves trimming the sails.”
Gerd-Jan Poortman paid the bill in the end. “I was awoken five times. On deck, changing sails, not good again, changing it back. Yes, I can feel my hands! The good news is, we’re still running with the front pack.”

Stefan Coppers
OBR, Team Brunel


Stable instability
This morning the difference between being on watch and off watch is pretty small. It’s a bit like doing a sail change every time we see a new cloud – and we’ve seen a lot of them!
“Everybody on deck, we must be ready to manoeuvre at any time.” Charles

I heard this phrase several times. Better off being on watch rather than off watch – at least you don’t spend your time going up and down, and just hope that you might get some rest at the end of your watch. A forlorn hope for some, with everyone trying to move our machine forward as fast as possible.
The moment of truth

It is 0600 UTC, but as Charles says, it’s actually 0700 UTC, the real hour of truth. This is when we receive the six hourly position report.
Before it arrives, Charles tells us, “We had rain clouds and squalls coming from every direction for the past few hours, and for sure that will have created some casualties. We’ll know in an hour when the position report arrives. And then most importantly there is an important tack to make, the timing of which could really effect the results, in particular for Abu Dhabi team.”

Yann Riou
OBR, Dongfeng Race Team

It was nice having Dongfeng Race Team sailing alongside us all day yesterday. It’s just such a great thing, seeing these boats sailing neck and neck.
For the last 24 hours, we sailed only half a mile apart with barely any changes. The reason I like it so much is probably because I’m not steering the boat, otherwise, if I had to struggle to get the boat to go one inch faster, constantly looking what the other boat does, it’d probably feel like torture.

We didn’t have much wind in the morning, and life on board was just crazy, moving the stacking up and down the whole time. Each time the wind changed, we had to move stuff around.
In the afternoon the wind picked up and we decided to tack as to head north, to Abu Dhabi, since the wind shift allowed it. Shortly after nightfall we could see Brunel windward of us. Dongfeng to leeward, to port, and further out in that direction Team Alvimedica.

The night was pretty tough, sailing upwind in more than 23 knots of wind. We kept peeling from MH0 to FR and from FR to MH0. Showers, gusts of up to 26-27 knots, and the boat heeling a lot and sailing fast!
With the first beam of sunlight, we tacked in a wind shift and as soon as it came back we tacked again. One of the watches didn’t get any sleep due to all these calls. They stayed on deck for seven consecutive hours, went for a two-hour rest and came back for four more hours.
Life offshore is hard, wet and demanding!

Francisco Vignale


Cuisine de jour
Oh freeze-dried food, how I have not missed you during our days in Cape Town.
Today, I went where only a few people (plus the astronauts) have gone: freeze-dried ice cream. It wasn’t half bad, but as I explained to Sophie it’s something I’ll probably only need to try once… a year, if that. I’m unsure what confused me more, the fact that I was eating something “they” decided to call ice cream or the fact that the strawberries tasted only 40% real.

Tonight’s dinner is “Chicken a la King.” First off—what is that? What King? I’m pretty sure no King in the whole wide world would eat this. It tastes kind of smoke-y and kind of lemon-y, which are two flavors I wouldn’t necessarily mix together. The ingredients read: “chicken 20%.” I’m uncertain if this means chicken only makes up 20% of the total meal, but then wait does it only mean the “chicken” pieces are make up of 20% real chicken? Obviously the first option seems the most logical, however if you simply looked at the cubed meat you might begin to doubt your gut. Or is it trust your gut in this case?

We’ve been lucky with one brand of freeze-dried food where the meat is real meat, however this leg’s meat is far from real. Sophie describes it best: “this is the leg of squishy meat!” Yep, that’s right… you chew and chew for a long time as the “meat” squeaks between your teeth.

How do I describe the “lamb”? Dare I start with the color? Which is more like grey with black dots. Ah yes, the rare spotted lamb meat, only found in packages! Similar to the 20% chicken, the lamb is cubed and indefinable We try very hard to not think about the non-lamb animals that make up the “lamb” in these meals.
Food conversations generally go like this:
“How was lunch Dee?”
“The Moroccan Chicken was fine as long as you don’t look at it.”
“Ah, you mean the Moroccan Lamb? Noted.”
Or, when cleaning the dinner pot in the morning:
“Oh so that’s what dinner was meant to look like! Not what I expected!”
Or, the now famous quote from our coach, Brad Jackson, from the last Volvo Ocean Race:
“I wouldn’t feed this to my dog.”

Nonetheless, we can complain until the cows come home but there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s not like we can run to the shop and pick up something fresh or change brands of freeze-dried. And, to be honest, even if we could, I doubt we would.

Food is fuel out here, it’s not necessarily meant to be ‘good’ per say. It’s amazing when freeze-dried food actually does taste like the real meat, but that’s almost like a treat. We have to eat in order to properly function, both within our own bodies and on deck. If we suddenly become food snobs then the boat’s performance goes down. Perhaps it’s a bit of a Catch 22.

So we suck it up, eat the hot meal, and enjoy the trail mix and chocolate bars on the side. At the moment, we have an unbelievable type of flapjack on board—quite the treat with a morning mug of hot chocolate!

So if the main meal is a bit dodgy (seriously, is it really lamb!?) then at least there’s dessert! (although I think I’ll be avoiding any thing called ‘ice cream’ from here on out.)

Corinna Halloran


You’ll have to excuse the grogginess this morning; it was a long night. For all of you newborn parents out there complaining about the baby waking you up every few hours, you should give high-pressure passages a try. Everyone was “wet bunking” (climbing into your bunk still wet and in foul weather gear), up and moving about every 45 minutes last night as if on a fixed schedule.

Rain squall after rain squall, sail change after sail change, stack adjustment after stack adjustment. Like Lionel Richie—all night long. Just when you start to get comfortable the call comes through the hatch to change something else. No snooze button to smack on that one… up and on deck, straight into the dark night.

Thankfully things have settled for the time being, about 19 knots, and the guys are catching up on some needed sleep, but there’s talk of taking a reef soon as the wind is supposed to build. We’re approaching the first of a few difficult weather features in our future this afternoon, an area of low-pressure moving east off the coast of Madagascar, and though it’s not forecasted to bring more than 22 knots, it’s upwind and there’s always the potential to whip up something special.

Which brings me to expectation management. It is going to be a big part of this leg. Not that we would ever expect worst-case scenarios, but in planning for near-worst-case you make sure you’re equipped to deal, mentally and physically, for whatever may come your way. We were expecting a light, windless day or two across the high. It never developed: bonus. We’re expecting a bit of a wallop later today and everyone’s into their own projects in prepping for it. Once through this we get some tradewind sailing straight towards a tropical depression. We’re obviously expecting a real tough time there, but thinking that way, not hoping for the best but expecting the worst, it helps to get yourself ready for it.

Manage expectations and you’re rarely caught out. That’s kind of our theme for the next week—be smart, stay in touch and plan farther ahead, hopefully further than the rest. Trying to act older, wiser than our years, I guess!

Amory Ross
OBR, Team Alvimedica


For the past two days, the South Indian Ocean has been quiet and void of any other boats as we’ve been sailing on our own with 60 nautical miles separating us and the rest of the fleet to the east. In a way it’s a stark contrast to when this part of the ocean used to be a busy trading route. Now, as we continue to sail north towards Abu Dhabi, there is nothing. No one sails down here anymore.
If the split we’ve created pays out, one might argue it was intentional… but it wasn’t. We were really trying to gybe to get in touch with the fleet when we found out later they’d sailed further east.

We’re playing our hand as fast as we possibly can and as the sun came up this morning and another sked came in, we were glad to see we’d had more breeze in the west and gained slightly on our competition. With any luck, we’ll be able to work over the top of them, or at the very least, come back together.

“On the one hand it’s nice to have other boats around because you can pace yourself and learn more”, says Ian. “On the other, it’s nice being alone and not make decisions because of what the other boats around you are doing.”

Always analysing the situation and talking things through he continues, “To be fair, we’ve done alright on this side, we’ve just had two slow patches which they didn’t have. Otherwise we’d be 50 miles up the track. If you play the whole thing through on the router we basically all come out the same.”

Matt Knighton
OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

************************************************** *********


The Indian Ocean calmed down. Endless high waves gave way to a flat ocean. On deck of Team Brunel the mood is relaxed. Four miles behind, the guys can see the front sails of MAPFRE and Dongfeng who’ve been trying, in vain, to take first position from the Dutch.

In the slipstream of the yellow ocean racer, two albatrosses dance on the wind. The gigantic seabirds draw all attention away from the pursuers for a little while. Bekking, legs over the railing, sips coffee from the thermos. For minutes, his eyes follow the birds.

“Incredible how beautiful the way they just skim over the waves.” He moves his arms showing how they float past the boat without a kick of the wings.
“Jens is our albatross-man”, trimmer Rokas Milevicius calls out. “If he owned a pet it would be an albatross”. “Did you know albatrosses are deceased sailors?”, the Danish sailor says. “What a life! Travelling, flying: seeing the world! Yes I want to be an albatross…just not yet.”

Stefan Coppers
OBR, Team Brunel


Our fifth night racing onboard MAPFRE, neck and neck with Dongfeng. We are less than a mile apart from each other, we can even see the expression on their faces. Until the sun set they were slightly ahead of us, we peeled from an A3 to a MH 0 but we definitely couldn’t pass them.

They lifted me up the mast to check the wind and the sail setting they had in place. Really amazing view the one you get from 30m high. At 22:00 UTC Brunel was 8 miles ahead of us and Dongfeng to starboard and little by little we managed to move up. In the early morning, as early as 02:00 am UTC we had left them behind, so this race is being really exciting. It’s pretty intense sailing, you can feel their breath on your neck and how they are desperately trying to pass you. Again the wind was a bit unsteady and we had to put all the stacking in the aft.

We changed breakfast, lunch and dinner time, cause the sun rises at 1:30 in the morning, and at 16:30 the moon is up in the sky, so now we’ll be eating following a more natural pattern, more adapted to the day light.
The boat is going well, and we are thirsty for the win!

Francisco Vignale

I can’t be more thankful for such a dry day. Since we left it’s been wet above and below decks but by 10am local time the sun was out and so was our washing. I think everyone secretly enjoyed the slower pace today. Not only did the sun give us some valuable drying time it also lifts spirits, not to say they were down but 25 kts and grey skies are not quite the same as blue ones replaced by that orange round thing in the sky they call the sun.

On a personal note I hit a best today. I’ve been somewhat out of sync since we left Cape Town, I’m not sure can I put my finger on it exactly. Perhaps like I mentioned the unknown is known so it takes something away from the experience. They say the first leg is the best and I’m beginning to understand that to a point. Nonetheless I found myself getting back to it so to speak. My goal is to become super fit physically before the end of the race and have committed to Tony Rae to do so.

Today as my personal trainer, friend and fellow shipmate we accomplished a goal, 70 press-ups. I’m sure to some it maybe easy but I ask anyone of you right now sitting at your desk, hit the floor and give me 70 on the spot. I’m wondering how many of you stopped now to try and will continue this read. Of course the biggest challenge will come as we travel north and spend longer at sea my muscles will become weaker from a variation (lack) of diet and proper exercise but the goal is to get 100 press-up before Abu Dhabi. Can I do it? Keep checking in and I’ll update you all on the progress.

The boat was a little out on its own the past 24hrs but we have gybed north into the lighter air but also back into the pack, we are deep within enemy territory fighting to get north and east to the trade winds. It’s such a difficult part of the world to navigate as so much is unknown and not much documented. Also the cyclone season is upon us, I asked Chris what do we do now that the routing and weather information is not as established in this part of the world, “I think we will have to deal with what weather that you have and factor in some of the area’s you need to go and we have been doing more or less that.

The Doldrums I’ve been across here once before and they are pretty cool, well at least last time we had big storms and there is plenty to play for in that area anyway, so I’d be happy if that runs the same”

Wouter added; “This used to be a very popular shipping route but with the opening of the Suez canal very little traffic is seen in these parts and hence the lack on weather observations in these parts”
Tomorrow I want to have a proper catch up with the young fellas. The social hours have been cut down to a minimum at the start of the leg but I’m keen to get in the inside track on how Leg 2 is going thus far.
Stay tuned land people - more from the Indian Ocean shortly…

Brian Carlin
OBR, Team Vestas Wind

Team SCA has a super fan. She’s three and, at home, she has posters of Team SCA on her wall. As a member of the team, and as a woman in 2014, this is extremely cool. When I was three, I had posters of horses and “New Kids on the Block” on my wall. The fact that there is a little girl already aspiring to be like us means we are doing our job correctly.

“This is not just about going out and winning the Volvo Ocean Race,” Libby said. “This is about something so much more, it’s about something bigger. When a three year old is interested, it’s like ‘wow this is really big.’ In sailing you’re so focused on crossing the finish line, but this is about so much more. It’s about changing way we think. If anything, it will start by changing how see women in sailing.”

What’s so fantastic is Abby Ehler, Stacey Jackson, Sally Barkow, and Libby Greenhalgh are becoming household names for young women around the world. The women of Team SCA are neither the Beyoncés nor the Hilary Clintons of the world—they’re simply every day women.

Yes, the women of Team SCA have worked incredibly hard to get to where they are today, however they enjoy cooking, a trip to the cinema, spending time with friends and family, eating chocolate, and so on. The women of Team SCA are real. What the women of Team SCA show all women, young and old, is that you can go out and achieve your dream—you can follow in our footsteps.

Sailing is an international sport that is so often looked at ‘a wealthy man’s game.’ Sailing is not “mainstream” like basketball, football, or golf. Sailing is confusing and technical.

However, the reality is: sailing is something anyone can do—especially if there’s a ‘learn to sail’ program in your area. Sailing is way cooler than mainstream sports because the sport sends their athletes into the front line, 24/7; you don’t see Michael Jordan sleeping on the basketball court!

Sailing, at it’s most pure and simple form, is about the wind, the sea, and water

What I’m getting at here is that sailing is a very cool sport, and little three year olds are interested in the sailors which means Team SCA has the power to change the world—through sailing. We have the power to not only share the love and the joy for the water, but we are role models who have the power to encourage the little girls out there to achieve their dreams. Yep, Libby is right, this is something big.

Corinna Halloran

As Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing fights their way North in the light winds of a high pressure, for the first time the mood onboard “Azzam” can best be described as cautious. Leg 2 has already reminded us several times that in a race between one-design boats you’re as much at the mercy of the “wind gods” than anything else.

Somewhat superstitiously, Daryl reflects, “We’ve had breeze the whole time, touch wood (as he pats his head) hoping they’re in a little light spot.”

“This is the first day since we left Cape Town that you have the opportunity to dry your gear out and give your neck and wrists a break from the latex seals”, he continues looking at a deck strewn with wet weather gear, boots, and socks drying in the sun.

After several breakages, many onboard are also keen to realize that any gains can be stripped away quite easily. Every hour now, someone is combing through the hull checking for any sign of wear. “We’ve not sailed brilliantly well”, says Ian. “We’ve had a few mishaps onboard and now we find ourselves a little bit on a limb with the fleet so a little bit nervous at the moment.”

And then lastly, added in is the one-design element of this race. A narrow gap of experience is quickly closing every second the fleet spends more time racing the Volvo Ocean 65’s. We know it’s becoming more about the small performance details, our weather routing, and a dose of luck regarding who comes out ahead.

While trimming the Main, SiFi agreed, “I think you discount any team at your own peril, I think everyone is pretty strong. Some guys are a little more consistent at the moment but already the level is very very high.”

Matt Knighton
OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

11-26-2014, 02:24 PM
Whilst the pressure of super close racing continues onboard Dongfeng in the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, a technical problem on the mast of the Chinese entry has added to the stress for Charles Caudrelier and his crew. The problem is not fully repairable in the current upwind and bumpy conditions, and is certainly an issue of concern for the team. However until they need to reef the mainsail (move the mainsail up or down the mast), it should not effect short term performance.


The metal mast track, on which the mainsail slides up and down the mast, has peeled away from the mast over a one metre section just under half way up the mast. There is the risk of this section of mast track pulling off completely or being damaged if loaded up at the wrong time. That would be the end of Dongfeng’s hopes of a good result on this leg of the race, and a long slow journey to Abu Dhabi. As a temporary repair, Donfeng’s bowman Kevin Escoffier has fitted some straps, tightened with ratchets, to try to hold the area of the mast track that has come away on to the mast as tightly as possible. The sliders (called cars) that attach the mainsail to the track must move past both the damaged area, and these straps, each time the mainsail is reefed (ie increasing or decreasing the size of the mainsail, according to the wind strength - a vital action for both performance and safety as the conditions change). Therefore the straps must be taken off each time this happens. This will require some earlier anticipation and preparation time for a reef which is not always easy to have in unstable conditions. This will also mean sending someone up the mast each time to take the straps off, wait while the reef is put in or taken out, then reattach again before the boat is fully powered up and the pressure comes back on the mast track.



The team hope that conditions will become calm enough tomorrow at first light to consider effecting a more practical temporary repair, attempting to re-bond the track to the mast.

Kevin after returning from phase 1 repair up the mast, and as ever with some humour “the next phase is to go back up the mast tomorrow when it should be calmer and bond [the track] back to the mast…or we don’t take a reef before Abu Dhabi!!!”

With relatively stable wind strength at the moment, this should hopefully not affect Dongfeng’s pace in the short term as they might not need to change the mainsail configuration too much. However it is clearly a constraint that in such very tight racing, might have an effect during the rest of this leg until a full repair and re-glue can be done. Certainly a problem the team could have done without - but not a problem that the determined men of Dongfeng will let diminish their ambitions for leg 2 of this extraordinary ocean racing competition. Its a mechanical sport, and the boats are pushed hard - its no surprise to have such challenges thrown at the team, and other boats are undoubtedly managing other issues, whether they choose to communicate or not about them. We chose to share our moment of stress with you!




PD Staff
11-28-2014, 08:55 PM

November 28, 2014

We are bearing north on starboard tack, and our next goal is sailing to windward of Reunion Island and getting ready for the upcoming party.
The fight is still very much alive between ourselves, Abu Dhabi and Brunel, we see them all the time, something which is really good for MAPFRE because that allows us to learn a lot from boats which’ve been training longer than a year.
It was quiet today, the squalls forced us to do some tacks and peelings but that was all.

It’s getting warmer as well. Each time the engine goes on the boat turns into a sauna, and it’s even worse when the ventilator under your feet goes on when you are cooking.

Our check of the the boat started with some little repairs, it’s really important for us not to break anything onboard during the tropical storm so we to stay with the fleet.
Ñeti will climb up the mast tomorrow to check it. This might be the most important thing, I’ll give him my GoPro see if he can take a couple of nice pics.

This morning we had a bit of unstable wind and we had to move the stack to the bow, and then the 1600 kg to the side again. Nevertheless, these light conditions have helped us gain miles upon Brunel.

So far we are all healthy and missing a cold coke, a nice steak, a shower, our beloved ones and getting more than 3 hours' sleep in row.

These last seven days were just great, let’s keep our fingers crossed. The race is long and so is the leg - if you move down from the top spot it’ll be difficult to regain it.

Francisco Vignale


Wanted: Police calls your attention to the following

On Thursday November 27th, 2014 around 5 PM the stock of chorizo sausages disappeared from the food bag of Team Brunel. Nine of the delicious sausages, which the crew appreciates as "the culinary highlight of the day" were packed: exactly 1 per crew member. At the time that half the crew was sleeping, however, all the 9 pieces were surreptitiously stolen.

Rokas Milevicius, one of the victims, is in a sad mood. "Who does such a thing? We need to get to the bottom of this."

No trail to date that leads to the perpetrators. Evil tongues say that Louis B. aka "The Moonlighter" is the evil genius behind this plot. Also Bouwe B. seems not entirely free of blame.

Can you help the crew of Team Brunel? Have you witnessed Louis B. or Bouwe B. this specific Friday afternoon? Or do you have other tips that lead to solving this enigmatic case? If so, please contact your local police station.

Stefan Coppers
OBR, Team Brunel

"With the tropical storm approaching our route, we are soon going to have an idea if the repair is solid enough" - Martin Strömberg
The threat hanging over heads all the way to Abu Dhabi…

As soon as we discuss the subject of the mast track, there is a reasonable amount of optimism. But a reasonable amount only, and mixed in with some bitterness. Because having a guy up the mast for an afternoon is neither good for the guy (Kevin!), or our performance. A few more miles given to our competitors – here you go, have a present!

Now above our heads in the mast is a threat hanging over us, that we won’t be able to get rid of before arriving in Abu Dhabi. Because if the track came away once, we know it can do it again. So we try not to think about it, concentrate on the race, which will take us by Mauritius tonight, before we meet the famous depression that everyone has been talking about for a few days now.

Mauritius, paradise island, dream holiday destination. Just next to us. But it seems so far away!

Yann Riou
OBR, Dongfeng Race Team


A cyclone or a tropical storm, either one I don’t really care for, neither is pleasant but within 24hrs I’m going to experience part if not all of it. We run some very expensive and complicated software routing programs, one where you input all the weather data, the boats speeds etc and it computes a massively complicated equation of data to give you the fastest route to where you want to go.

Right, so we run these programs daily if not hourly and yet it still seems to predict that heading towards a tropical storm is the best!!! I WONDER! Sure it might be quicker but I suspect we are in for another day of fairground antics, the type you cannot get off….

I think being from the northern hemisphere, if we had called this a hurricane I’d perceive the dangers differently but Cyclone or Tropical storm now as its called because it's been downgraded doesn’t associate the same levels of urgency. I asked Wouter earlier' is there much to worry about? He seems to think, not massively. He said, “It’s a maximum of 35knts we will see, you have been out in worse, Brian.” This is true, but I will hold off comment until this passes to make a judgement call.

The mood is rather focused the past couple of days. The past night was a little relentless for the boys, it seemed the squally activity and shifty breeze rolled in around midnight. I popped my head up occasionally but all were too busy changing sails or changing direction to even be offered a coffee. By the time dawn broke the conditions were getting worse.

I recall at one stage between 06:00 and 06:20, moving from bunk to bunk 4 times with the sleeping bag. Each time I just got settled in, the engine would start, which powers and moves the 5-ton keel from side to side. Pack up and move to the other side. In the end I think we may have changed course 7 times in 40 minutes so I decided it was time to accept it and give up on trying to sleep. Did I mention I love my sleep, not something I would have admitted before now.

I often get requests from our TV producers and if you don’t know them, you probably should get to know them. We have Leon and François, both of these guys are funnier that hell, especially François, mainly because he’s French! I love these two guys and they get some crazy ideas - like today, they set me a task on how to explain a cyclone using any means I like. I certainly sat at my desk this morning cursing them both, how do I explain a cyclone!!!!

I’m on a boat with not so much as a piece of paper to describe or scribble on! Well I did what I do best and went back to sleep after lunch, I find these mid-afternoon naps very helpful (I think the Spanish got it right with the siesta). I woke at 3pm with a plan! I needed a scientist to help and who better than PHD student Peter Wibroe!

The rest of this blog I cannot write, it was the single funniest moment on the boat since August. I literally had tears rolling down my face from laughter… Look, don’t judge me land people, we don’t have tvs, books, ipods to keep us entertained. It was funny alright… :) hah…. watch today’s boat feed for your 60 seconds of laughter.

We have had Alvimedica on our windward shoulder all day long. The accountants on deck running numbers as if to impress a maths teacher. These accountants are sailors too. We slowly closed the gap between us and went bow forward after an entire day of looking at each other.

Just before darkness descended the winds went to the right, almost forcing us to tack back onto the port board heading 007 COG. We are on our way to meet Suzie (I just named our Tropical friend), I heard she can fly off the handle sometimes… mmm maybe making jokes are not my strong point..

I also asked Nico today what did he think about Suzie, “Ah, the track of the tropical storm, ah cyclone, we can get around the western side like the good side of it and run around it, but the intensity of it can be kinda hard to work out.” I think he’s reasonably happy we will be ok, so that puts everyone at ease.

Gee, today's blog was a long one, it was also a busy one, thanks Leon and François for the mental aerobic workout today, you two fellas know how to keep the Irishman on his toes (I’m still having a sleep during the day, try stop me…. ) OH! I almost forgot to report, I hit the big 80 press-ups today, Trae is working me hard but it's beginning to pay off.. I’ll keep you informed on progress.
Later, Land People

Brian Carlin
OBR, Team Vestas Wind

When the wind decides to have a night off it’s a test for all of us. It’s a test for the navigator to make sure she doesn’t lose faith in her track. It’s a test for the helmswoman and the trimmer to concentrate and keep the boat moving. It’s a test for the skipper to keep her cool. And it’s a test for the rest of the crew to stay “sane.”

“There’s nothing you can do about it, you have to deal with the wind you’ve got, and if there isn’t any, there isn’t any,” Abby said. “But you hope that whatever we’re stuck under is going to keep moving through and we’ll come out of it. It’s only a short-term thing so you have to work with it, it’s not forever.”

At the moment we’re stuck between two low pressures, one of which happens to be a tropical cyclone. “All the wind is trying to go to both low pressures,” Libby explained. The low pressures are literally sucking all the wind and thus creating wind holes—aka the most frustrating thing on the sea!
When you look at a weather map, you’ll see a low-pressure system has pressure gradients close together, much like the contour lines on a map. On a topography map, the closer the lines are together, the steeper the mountain; in this case the closer the lines, the stronger the winds.

In a typical weather system, the contour lines are evenly spaced until the pressure begins to dissipate where they become further and further apart. At the moment, there are two steep wind mountains and we’re travelling by donkey in the valley between the two; soon, however, we’ll trade our donkey for a Ferrari as we zip into a tropical cyclone.

The finicky weather has everyone on edge a little bit. Everyone’s tone of voice is a little bit sharper, there’s a particular ‘no wind’ tone—a mixture of frustration and concentration.

“Everyone deals with no wind in a different way,” Dee explained. “The most important thing to remember is why people are getting frustrated—there’s no wind and we want to do well. This is almost worse than the Doldrums because you expect this in the Doldrums—you don’t expect no wind here.”

We’ve been working really hard for this for so long and the last thing we want is no wind. So naturally, everyone is concentrated and focused on getting us through this difficult time. The only thing we can do at this point is hope the rest of the fleet is in similar conditions and remember there is tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is going to be the polar opposite (or so we hope!) as we get back into some wet and windy conditions.

Corinna Halloran


With the waves decreasing, the winds moderating, and the temperatures rising, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has taken the opportunity to dry out and replenish energy reserves. The beating of the last two days took a toll on the sleep patterns of the crew—Justin Slattery and Daryl Wislang particularly seemed to not have any “complete” watches off with sail changes always waking them up.

Paramount to getting the guys back on their feet has been food and drink. “Azzam” was fitted out with 27 days of food when it left Cape Town and as this leg looks to be shortening in length, we’ve been cannibalizing from the last few days of provisions.
Isotonic powder – which is mixed into our drinking bottles – helps rehydrate and recharge as it replenishes the minerals sweated out of the body. Crucial to sailing in the tropics where the weather is warm, we ran out of this several days ago. Diving for rations is an art form and after moving several food bags to dig deeper for the last day’s rations, we found the jackpot: a whole new canister!

Adil even got into the “food bag diving” as he got critically low on another staple: hot sauce. Walking past the stack of food bags yesterday afternoon, there was a familiar pair of Musto shorts sticking out around the bulkhead. Adil was waist deep and upside down rummaging for a bottle. The smile on his face when emerged victorious was priceless.

For Parko though, true to his Australian form, the best motivator when it comes to food is his Vegemite. Vegemite goes on everything. However, it wasn’t until yesterday we learned the backstory behind his addiction. Grinning he explained, “Mom bought and packed all the Vegemite at home for the race!”
Thanks Mom.

Matt Knighton
OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

I’d love to say our fatigue is the result of excess digestion from a Thanksgiving feast but sadly that’s not the case. It was another busy night of sail changes and re-stacking the boat as weather and seas began to change in advance of the tropical system moving our way. We’re currently experiencing what’s commonly referred to as the “calm before the storm,” but the severity of the storm hangs in limbo and varies greatly depending on who you want to believe.

Right now we have a very relaxed 8-knot northeasterly wind and we’re sailing along, shirtless, in calm waters and very clear skies. But a hesitant glance to the east shows massively building clouds, dark shadows, and evidence of trouble. It’s ominous and looming and to be honest, a bit frightening. But the French models—king for this part of the ocean—suggest it will only be a “depression,” downgraded overnight, and that we’ll see 35-40 knots at most. The American model still believes the potential for cyclonic growth is high, and both models agree: its path is erratic and unpredictable.

It has been a not so splendid 48 hours for us and the storm presents a bit of an opportunity; that’s how we have to look at it. There hasn’t been much rhyme or reason to the fall down the leaderboard other than that we have been unlucky with clouds and some poor shifts--a bit out of phase as we say in the industry. It’s a tough pill to swallow seeing as we’re in for a long day or two, but the beauty of being where we are in the backseat is that we have the benefit of seeing what’s happening ahead.
Hopefully there are some good gains to be made because this system could be the catapult the fleet needs to get north through a typically sticky region of light air. We do not want to miss it.

It will be a very interesting day or two, hopefully a safe but fast trip north back into contention!

Amory Ross
OBR, Team Alvimedica

************************************************** ********

November 27, 2014


Today is a great day in the USA—it is Thanksgiving, a day for spending time with family, for eating food and for giving thanks. While there are only four of us Americans onboard, it’s realistic to say we are a family of nine for the next year and I thought we might take the time to hand out some thanks of our own:

Thanks to Inmarsat and Cobham for connecting us to the world! It makes us all feel a little closer to our families and friends and this race would be a lot harder without either of them.

Thanks to the nice clouds in our FUTURE, and not those of our past. We have not exactly won the Thanksgiving Day lottery—it has been a tough morning of getting bounced around underneath clouds. Five tacks in six hours—uggggh.

Thanks to whoever invented deodorant, as this is one absurdly smelllly bunch.

Thanks to Friends Academy for their awesome Thanksgiving Day cards! Bella—I appreciate the nice note and glad you enjoy the pictures. I really like taking them!

Thanks to Mountain House food for supplying a disgustingly delightful dosage of
Thanksgiving freeze-dried: Roast Chicken to be exact. Poultry is poultry and we’ll just have to pretend it is Turkey, though we were given some special cranberry spread to help the cause!

Thanks to the Cyclone in our path for getting downgraded, and for being “disorganized”—very much like we feel at the moment, actually. Five tacks makes a mess of the stack and life onboard is somewhat scattered. Like the cyclone. A relief!
Thanks to all of you for your endless support. It helps to know you’re pulling for us, wherever you may be.

Thanks to Alvimedica for making all of this possible. We’re truly excited to be here, with this group, and it’s an opportunity we never forget—every day. And thank you for all the work that went into our Thanksgiving care package. Amazing stuff.
Most importantly, Thanks to our families for understanding our absence from the dinner table! We know what we are sacrificing to be here but we are doing what we love and that will have to suffice for now!

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from those of us at sea on Alvimedica!

Amory Ross
OBR, Team Alvimedica


DIY, instability, and frustration

It happened yesterday during a day when nothing much was happening. As well as being quite boring, it was also uncomfortable. But honestly we would have preferred to stay a bit bored to what happened instead.

I don’t even know who noticed it, but who cares – the result is the same. Our mast track has come unstuck. For the moment, over a 70cm or so area. It’s not going to pull off straight away, but considering there are still 3,500 miles to Abu Dhabi, we cannot just sit there and do nothing.

So Kevin went up the mast, and put in place two webbing strops, tensioned with ratchets to stop it peeling off further. That works. It can’t move. The only problem is that with two strops across the track, it’s impossible to take the mainsail down, or most importantly, take a reef. And that won’t be possible to avoid between here and Abu Dhabi! So we need to find a solution.

“Climb, sand down the carbon, clean up the track, and re-glue it” explains Kevin. When? As soon as the conditions allow it. That should be this morning.

But not this morning, because for a few hours now there is a big fight going on. Fight between the teams – we can see five with our own eyes – and fight with the elements – squalls, gusts, rain, wind holes, clouds, big wind shifts, and all the sail changes that go with that. It hasn’t stopped. Not the time to climb the mast for some DIY and repairs in any case.

So on we go. As if everything is fine. On we go stacking the little spoons whilst trying to forget that we have two big webbing strops that weigh a kilogramme each half way up the mast. On we go trimming every detail to try and gain a metre here and there, forgetting that we have to send someone up the mast to glue the track back on, and that could take some time. On we sail with the full mainsail up, without thinking about the big tropical depression that we will find soon right on our route.
On we go as if nothing has changed.
On we go!

Yann Riou
OBR, Dongfeng Race Team

Today has been a great day. We did the right calls and that helped us take the lead. The fleet compressed again and we can clearly see Abu Dhabi, Dongfeng, Brunel and Alvimedica.

We sailed upwind all day, and all night. After sunset, we tacked because of a wind shift. The squalls arrived and with them the wind dropped. We had rain four times so far in this leg, but we weren’t in the mood for a shower – that’s the last think you can think about when sailing in such a tight fleet.

Jean Luc says it’s important for us to arrive to La Réunion well positioned. Afterwards we could make some good gains if we do the right calls and if the boat sails fast.
On deck there’s been chitchat about the tropical storm we are about to cross. It could get serious – or not. The best thing is to be ready in case the 40 knots kick in and help us sail faster than the rest of the fleet. Otherwise we’ll keep sailing at 10 or 12 knots.

It’s 5:21 UTC and as I write we find ourselves in a small wind hole, under the rain, with Abu Dhabi to windward, and Brunel behind. Everybody is on deck and all the weight is at the bow.

Phases without wind are quite tense because you never know who’s going to gain from it, and you just hope to be that boat.

Yesterday night we had pasta and tuna, our favorite food onboard MAPFRE. Everybody smiles when we’re having it.

Rob and Jean Luc won the quiz contest by correctly answering my question: “What’s the largest body organ?” It’s the skin!!

Francisco Vignale

Sail repairs don’t slow us down!

What a day! Before 0800 UTC the team was well into a proper sail repair below decks and, above deck, the team was sailing fast and hard.
In the early morning hours, one of the sailors shone her light on to the front sail, our J1, and noticed a few torn holes in the sail per result of the staysail’s clew flapping hard against the J1. The team rode it out with the torn sail for a little while longer, until they had a weather window sufficient enough to sail on the smaller (and incorrect) sail, the J2.

After luging the sail down the deck and into the boat, Stacey and Abby started to prepare the sail for repair. Both sailors were off watch and began using their vital off watch hours to repair the sail, a job projected to take at least two hours.
First, the sail needed to be dried, so the girls used the engine and acetone to dry off the sail. Next, Stacey cut new pieces of 3Di sail for the repair and used 5200 to glue the patches to the sail. Finally, the sewing machine was brought out to put the final touches on the repair. Two-hours and twenty minutes later the sail was hoisted and SCA was on the correct sail again.

“The most important thing is to measure twice and cut once. You also want to make sure you do it right the first time so ou don’t have to do it twice,” Stacey explained.
While the girls below deck fixed one of the more important sails for the leg, the girls above deck were sailing incredibly well and fast. (Not saying they normally don’t!) But the deck team’s performance was so on target that we were the fastest boat in the fleet for the next position report. Furthermore, we made gains fleet wide, miles that later in the day became essential for us. The important thing to note here is that we were sailing on the smaller, incorrect sail.

What this morning proved was how Team SCA works as a team. Both Stacey and Abby worked straight through their off watch time in order to better the team’s overall performance. Both women did it without batting an eye; in fact they both had smiles on their faces despite working straight for nearly 12 hours once they finished their second watch.

Sam said she was really impressed with the team’s performance as it really proved how dedicated the team is and how well we can sail the boat in any condition.

Corinna Halloran


On the horizon at dusk, four sets of sails became clearer and clearer as the fleet compressed and our separation for the past three days came to a close. We’ve been very pleased that the wider route we accidentally dealt ourselves earlier has paid dividends as we now are fighting for the lead with Brunel, Dongfeng, and MAPFRE hot on our tail.

For Ian, there’s a relief to have other boats nearby to race against, “We’re quite pleased this time because we were a long way behind these guys. It’s quite nice to be in touch and see how we’re going.”

Last night as we gybed north towards a predicted Tropical Storm that might cross our path, the forecast was for decent trade wind conditions all day. However, as dawn is breaking the Indian Ocean is glass and we’re floating amongst the lead group looking for wind.

As if the unpredictability of this leg wasn’t enough already, now this un-forcasted high-pressure ridge is rolling the dice again. Anyone could get a puff from a squall right now and come out miles ahead, arrive at the Tropical Storm first, and then see decisive gains.

There’s no question that storm is in the back of everyone’s mind. When asked if he knows how Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will prepare for those conditions, Ian is weighing the options.

“The Tropical Storm is coming towards us and that can become a question of how close to the center do we dare go: racing benefits versus potential risk scenario.”
With a laugh he adds, “I’m sure when push comes to shove we’re all going to send it in there and egg each other on.”

Matt Knighton
OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

11-29-2014, 11:07 PM
At 1510 UTC, Saturday, November 29, Team Vestas Wind informed Race Control that their boat was grounded on the Cargados Carajos Shoals, Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean. Fortunately, no one has been injured.
We are in contact with the boat to establish the extent of the damage and ensure the crew is given the support needed to enable it to deal with the situation.
The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Reunion Island is aware of the problem.
The crew has informed us that it is currently grounded on a reef but nobody is injured. Volvo Ocean Race and Team Vestas Wind’s top priority is to make sure the crew is safe.
The crew has informed Race organisers that it now plans to abandon the boat as soon as possible after daybreak.
Team Alvimedica and two other vessels are in contact with Team Vestas Wind to assist.
We will give you more information as it becomes available.


Team Alvimedica has now arrived at the site, is in radio contact with Team Vestas Wind and standing by to assist Team Vestas Wind, waiting for daylight.
Race Control is in contact with Team Vestas Wind every hour. The situation is currently stable on board and the crew plans to remain on board until daylight.
There is also contact established with a coastguard station on Isle de Sud, approximately 1.5 km from the boat, which has a RIB available.
The plan is for this vessel to assist in abandoning the boat as soon as possible after daylight.
Both rudders have been reported broken by the Team Vestas Wind crew. The team has also reported water ingress in the stern compartment.
The Volvo Ocean 65 has watertight bulkheads in the bow and the stern. The remaining part of the boat is intact including the rig.
We will update as soon as we have further information.

El Capitan
11-30-2014, 09:50 AM
What a bummer!

Buzz Light Beer
11-30-2014, 10:15 AM
Cargados archipelago apparently does not show up readily on the electronic charts according to some of the onboard
blogs. I'll bet there are many of those along the route. Hard to miss what you cant see.

11-30-2014, 11:05 AM

November 30, 2014 – Team Alvimedica has resumed racing today toward Abu Dhabi, after diverting yesterday afternoon to stand by until early morning today to assist in the rescue of fellow Volvo Ocean Race competitor Team Vestas Wind after they ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.

Team Alvimedica, who remained nearby (within 4,500 meters) in visual and radio contact with Team Vestas Wind and local Coast Guard officials until the rescue was safely completed, was not required to assist in the actual evacuation of the crew to shore.

The Vestas crew, who were not injured in the grounding, first abandoned the Volvo Ocean 65 to two life rafts before being rescued by a local coast guard center console boat for transfer safely to shore on Ile de Sud, part of the Carados Carajos Shoals northeast of Mauritius.

Shortly after Team Alvimedica had returned to racing this morning, skipper Charlie Enright reflected on the dramatic chain of events. “Last night we acted as a relay between the Coast Guard and Team Vestas Wind. We stood by and logged the events as they transpired. We also acted as a go-between because often times the Coast Guard and Vestas had trouble directly communicating due to range issues and the fact that Vestas was on a hand-held VHF. They boarded their own life rafts and anchored them to a rock before they were picked up this morning,” Enright reported.

Team Alvimedica was prepared to welcome the nine team members from Vestas on board their racing yacht in the morning once they were rescued form the reef. “Originally, when Nico (Vestas skipper Chris Nicholson) didn’t have any information, he was going to board our boat to re-group. We even made them a meal. But after talking to the locals, they discovered that there’s a supply boat coming tomorrow (to Ile du Sud) and that they had food and accommodation for the night so they released us to continue sailing.”

Enright says it was a surreal night but not until the morning did the enormity of it sink in. “I can only imagine what it must have been like for Vestas to hit that reef – from sailing to a dead stop, losing your rudders, taking on water, abandoning your ship, wading across said reef in knee-high waters, while towing your two life rafts behind you…wow. None of it really sets in until you see the boat on the bricks at day break.”

For Team Alvimedica, their only concern throughout the ordeal was the safety of their fellow competitors. “The only thing that matters, was that everyone was ok, they are our competitors and our friends but in addition to that we are each other’s support networks when we are sailing in remote corners of the world,” Enright said.

Team Alvimedica now returns to race mode as they set their sights once again on the Leg Two finish line in Abu Dhabi. “It’s hard to switch gears, but once we were assured of the safety of the Vestas crew, it was time to continue on to Abu Dhabi. Although racing was secondary last night, it has once again become our primary focus.”

Enright gave his crew high marks for the way they handled the situation. “I am proud of how our crew conducted themselves during our assistance of Vestas. Will Oxley (navigator), who’s been through his fair share of marine mishaps, helped run the procedures and communications and did an excellent job.”

11-30-2014, 11:44 AM
VOR 30/11 - a sad event for yacht racing
Since VEST grounding yesterday there has been a huge amount of speculation and opinion as to how this happened, or who is to blame.

Don't know 100% about other software packages...Expedition routing can route freely (i.e. with no obstacles) or can be constrained by charts, or your own marks, or your own prohibited zones. Plenty of optimal route outputs run where you would have to put the wheels down. Ultimately it is the user who defines how the routing output is run and results used.

The point I'm putting forward here is that software does not make someone a navigator. First you must be a navigator and then know and understand the strengths and limitations of the tools you have.

When this is explained to a lot of people I meet, it is usually met with confused stares. The number of software jockeys (promoting themselves navigators) in yacht racing I have come across who expect the answers to fall out of their computer is astounding. Take the deck screen away from them and they couldn't get out of the marina or find the top mark efficiently if their life depended on it.

Wouter is a navigator, one of the best, and firmly falls into the category of a superb yachtsman and navigator. One who understands the strengths and limitations of digital tools more than most will ever do. And one of the nicest guys in the sport to boot.

Mistakes happen. Just glad they are all safe and uninjured.

There but for the grace of god go I...


11-30-2014, 12:03 PM

Special edition of the The Inside Track, Knut Frostad explains the situation with Team Vestas Wind running aground & other race teams give their reactions to the news.

11-30-2014, 05:44 PM
ALICANTE, Spain, November 30 – Australian skipper, Chris Nicholson, spoke on Sunday night of his immense pride at the way his Team Vestas Wind crew came through the ordeal of being grounded and being forced to abandon their boat in complete darkness on a remote Indian Ocean reef.

Nicholson, 45, said he had to make 'the number one toughest decision of my life' to leave the stricken Volvo Ocean 65 in the small hours of the morning after it was effectively beached on the reef on an archipelago of islands called St. Brandon, 430 north-east kilometres from Mauritius.

He was interviewed by volvooceanrace.com on Sunday night as he surveyed the idyllic, but remote, island of Íle du Sud, where he was transported with the rest of his crew to safety as day broke following a night of drama.

“It’s the most beautiful night I’ve ever seen,” he said. “And last night was one of the worst nights that I have ever seen.”


Nicholson, from Lake Macquarie, New South Wales, continued: “We’re kind of literally shipwrecked It’s a unique experience going through it.”

He told how the boat had run into the reef at around 19 knots and yet astonishingly, none of the nine on board suffered even minor injuries.

Nicholson was also amazed that the boat survived the impact without breaking up immediately.

He said his plan had been to keep the crew on board until daybreak, before being rescued, but had practised a drill for abandoning the boat 15-20 times, ‘never with the intention of having to do it', he explained.

However, the ‘massive pounding’ of the waves eventually told and Nicholson decided he had no option but to abandon ship, the most dreaded words a skipper can utter.


He and his crew then waded across the reef in knee-deep water in their boots before finding a mercifully dry spot where they waited for a coastguard RIB to take them to Íle du Sud and safety.

Nicholson, who at times struggled with his emotions during the 20-minute long interview, said the spirit of his crew after such a blow had stunned him. “I always believed that we were a strong team.

“We made a mistake, which led to what happened last night, but I’ve been blown away by the way the guys dealt with the situation, trying to make things as right as possible today. They make me so proud.”

He now plans to meet up with shore crew chief Neil Cox (AUS) and assess the chances of salvaging the boat. “We have a pretty unique group of people to get as good an outcome as possible,” he said.

Dirty Sanchez
11-30-2014, 05:53 PM
The boats are technically rentals, aren't they?

Can they get a replacement?

Big Brass Balls
11-30-2014, 06:57 PM
Doubtful, they are done, as is the navigator if he missed the reef on the charts.

12-01-2014, 09:21 AM

December 01, 2014 – Competitors in the Volvo Ocean Race share an ethos with members of the military: Leave no man behind. That ethos carries significant weight when you’re on the ocean in a remote part of the world, far from assistance.


At that point your nearest help is usually a competitor. That ethos led to Team Alvimedica’s direct assistance over the past weekend in the safe recovery of the Team Vestas Wind crew from a shoal in a remote part of the Indian Ocean. The youngest crew in the race was stationed on site for some 8 hours.

It was 10 minutes before 1600 UTC on Saturday evening when Team Alvimedica navigator Will Oxley received a call from Volvo Ocean Race headquarters saying that Team Vestas Wind had run aground on the Cargados Carajos Shoals, some 230 nautical miles northeast of Mauritius. The rudders of the Volvo Ocean 65 had been torn off and there was water ingress in the stern compartments, although the compartments were still water tight from the main part of the hull.

The shoals had been of concern to Oxley and skipper Charlie Enright for a few days as the crew approached from the south. Very low on the water the shoals would be extremely difficult to see at night, which is when Team Vestas went aground.

“Basically it’s a coral reef flat,” said Oxley. “At high tide there was probably 1-1.5 meters of water over the flat. So we could see the yacht clear as day in the morning leaning over at a terrible angle with large breaking waves to weather. We could see their life rafts tethered to a rock.”

That was in the light of day. During the night, when Team Alvimedica arrived on site and took up station on the western side of the flat downwind from Team Vestas, no one knew what to expect. But Enright, competing in his first Volvo Ocean Race, had that ethos in mind. They were positioned to intercept the life raft if the Team Vestas crew had to go adrift.

“Racing has become secondary based on the communications we’ve had with Vestas,” said Enright, at 30 years old the youngest skipper in the race. “We’ll rejoin the race at a time when that’s acceptable and the priority once again.”

That point came yesterday morning, when local coast guard authorities safely recovered the nine members of the Team Vestas Wind crew. It brought to close a night filled with anxiety for both crews. As Enright noted before Team Vestas abandoned ship, “I think their situation deteriorates with every wave.”

The problem was Team Vestas Wind’s position on the reef. It was being blown onto the reef. “We were party every 30 minutes to the slow destruction of the yacht,” said Oxley. “It was terrible to hear what was happening.”

Once on site Team Alvimedica played an important role in communications. Oxley and Enright were in contact every 30 minutes with Team Vestas skipper Chris “Nico” Nicholson or navigator Wouter Verbaak, both race veterans. They were also in regular contact with the local coast guard authorities, acting as a go-between because Team Vestas was reduced to a hand-held VHF for communication. Oxley and Enright also kept the race office informed.

It was in the cover of darkness when Nicholson made the call to abandon ship due to the water ingress. There is no such thing as stepping into a life raft, but in this case the crew didn’t have to go swimming either. Instead the crew waded in knee-deep water across the reef flat to a point where they could board the raft, which was tied to a rock, and wait until dawn.

Illuminated through the night by strobe light, the life raft was clearly visible when the coast guard authorities arrived at day break. They transported the Team Vestas crew to the tiny islet of Íle du Sud, which is also known as St. Brandon and part of Cargados Carajos Shoals.

In thanking the race organization for its diligence in the rescue operation, Vestas chief marketing officer Morten Albaek commended Team Alvimedica. “We also thank our colleagues on the Alvimedica race team for their support and outstanding professionalism during the rescue operations,” said Albaek.

Although the Team Vestas crew was safely rescued, Team Alvimedica’s participation came to an abrupt end. Not knowing what to expect, the crew was prepared to offer any assistance necessary.

“They were incredibly appreciative of the role we played,” said Oxley. “But they didn’t want to disrupt our lives anymore so they sent us on our way. To us, we would’ve in many ways liked to see them to have closure. But I understand completely the place their in. Once they were safe and everything was ok, they then wanted us to continue our race.”

“For those guys, it has to be absolutely heartbreaking,” said Dave Swete. “We’re just relieved that everyone’s ok.”

With that drama passed, Team Alvimedica presses on regardless.

“Now we must shift back into racing mode,” Oxley continued. “It has been such an up and down leg so far and we still have 3,000 nautical miles of light wind sailing ahead. As we readjust and catch up on some sleep and get our heads back in the game I firmly believe that, given the forecast, there is a real chance of catching at least one of the yachts ahead of us so this is now our challenge!”
For more information, visit http://www.teamalvimedica.com/news/
—Sean McNeill


Prince of Whales
12-01-2014, 09:57 AM
I wonder if Wouter Verbraak's credit card for online purchases was denied and they were just winging it?

Charlie Tuna
12-01-2014, 10:08 AM
Knut Knot happy.

Dutch Rudder
12-01-2014, 01:06 PM
Knut will hand out better charts for the troops at Christmas, me thinks.

12-01-2014, 01:12 PM

‘A picture tells a 1,000 words’ - this first aerial shot of Team Vestas Wind lying in an Indian Ocean reef. http://bit.ly/pic-1000-words

©NCG Operations Room – MRCC Mauritius

This graphic picture shows the stricken Team Vestas Wind lying in a reef in a remote Mauritius archipelago of St Brandon after being grounded there at the weekend.
The team and race organisers are now working out the best way to recover the Volvo Ocean 65 in the Indian Ocean.

Neil Cox, shore manager of the Danish team, said: “The photo paints a pretty graphic picture of what’s going on out there. The picture tells a 1,000 words.”
He said his focus was still the security of the nine members of the crew.
“We have still got nine guys sitting on what is basically a sand pit out in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

“They are still the priority. It’s a peace of mind to know they’re all safe and doing everything they can out there with the boat right now.”
Cox said that sail ropes, fluids, electronics and hardware had been taken off the boat.
The nine-strong crew abandoned ship in the early hours of Sunday morning after the collision at 19 knots at 1510 GMT the previous day and waded through knee-deep water to a dry position on the reef.

They were picked up from there at daylight by a coastguard rib and taken to the nearby Íle du Sud.

The islet has very little communications with the outside world and the crew are awaiting transportation back to Mauritius. This is expected to happen within the next 24 hours.

The National Coast Guard of the Maritime Rescue Co-operation Centre (MRCC) of Mauritius took the pictures as part of its usual operations after such an incident.
The crew have received food packages via an airdrop from a coastguard plane. It confirmed that all were uninjured in the collision.

Built to List
12-01-2014, 01:23 PM
That's pretty reefed up!

Sky-crane to the rescue?

12-01-2014, 03:03 PM
they parked it up real good there

IOR Geezer
12-01-2014, 03:19 PM
Should have stayed with the Cape Town to Oz route.

Not many reefs in the Southern Ocean. Excitement every day.

Beer stays cold.

12-02-2014, 09:58 AM
GeoGarage (http://blog.geogarage.com/2014/12/questions-asked-about-volvo-ocean-race.html) provides some clarity to the topography and bathemy surrounding the Cargados Carajo Shoals which Team Vesta's Wind ran into....


“I don’t know 100% about other software packages, but Expedition routing can route freely (i.e. with no obstacles) or can be constrained by charts, or your own marks, or your own prohibited zones. Plenty of optimal route outputs run where you would have to put the wheels down.

Ultimately, it is the user who defines how the routing output is run and results used.
“The point I’m putting forward here is that software does not make someone a navigator. First you must be a navigator, and then know and understand the strengths and limitations of the tools you have.

“When this is explained to a lot of people I meet, it is usually met with confused stares. The number of software jockeys (promoting themselves navigators) in yacht racing I have come across, who expect the answers to fall out of their computer, is astounding. Take the deck screen away from them and they couldn’t get out of the marina or find the top mark efficiently if their life depended on it.

“Vestas Wind navigator Wouter Verbraak is one of the best, and firmly falls into the category of a superb yachtsman and navigator. He is one who understands the strengths and limitations of digital tools more than most will ever do. And one of the nicest guys in the sport to boot.
“Mistakes happen. Just glad they are all safe and uninjured.”


Cargados Carajos Shoals
9.16 Cargados Carajos Shoals (16°38'S., 59°36'E.) is an
extensive group of reefs, islets, and shoals. They have been reported
to lie about 3 miles further SW than charted. The E side
of the reef has not been closely examined, because it is almost
impossible to approach it from the E; in addition to the tremendous
sea always breaking over it, is reported to be steep-to,
and, therefore, most dangerous to approach under any circumstance.
Several small islets and rocks rise from the long central
reef of Cargados Carajos Shoals, and others lie off its N end
and its W side. All of them are low; many are subject to being
submerged in heavy weather.

9.16 Albatross Island (16°15'S., 59°35'E.) is about 3m high and
is marked by a light. When viewed from the N, the light may
be obscured by trees.

9.16 North Island, surrounded by coral reefs, lies 2.5 miles NNE
Sector 9. Islands and Banks North and East of Madagascar 143
Pub. 171
from the main reef; depths off its W side are about 12.8m, but
the E side is unsurveyed. Breakers are charted 1.8 miles NNE
of North Island and isolated depths of 2.1m lie 1 and 1.3 miles
SSE, respectively, of the island.

9.16 Ile Raphael (16°27'S., 59°37'E.) is a group of three islets
visible at a distance of about 10 miles. There are fishermen’s
huts and a meteorological station on the islets; they are situated
in the N part of the extensive shoal.

9.16 Siren Island lies 1.8 miles SW of Ile Raphael. Pearl Breaker
lies 3.8 miles SSW of Siren Island.

9.16 Pearl Island (16°33'S., 59°31'E.) lies 2.3 miles SSW of
Pearl Breaker; it is bare of vegetation, except for a conspicuous
clump of trees on its NE end.

9.16 Frigate Island lies about 5.3 miles W of the extensive shoal
area in a position 3 miles S of Pearl Island.

9.16 Mapare Island and Avocare Island lie about 10 miles SSE
and 9.5 miles S, respectively, of Ile Raphael. Trees grow on
both islands and are visible from a distance. Avocare Island
can be approached from the W by small vessels with local
knowledge, although such approach is difficult because of numerous
coral heads and other dangers.

Coastal Pilot (http://msi.nga.mil/MSISiteContent/StaticFiles/NAV_PUBS/SD/Pub171/Pub171bk.pdf#page=142)



Massage from Team Vesta Wind:

On Saturday 29th December 2014 at 15:21 UTC, Team Vestas Wind reported having run aground Cargados Carajos Shoals, Mauritius. No one was injured.
The nine-man crew abandoned ship in the early hours of Sunday morning, wading through knee-deep water to a dry position on the reef. They were picked up from there at daylight by a coastguard rib and taken to the nearby Íle du Sud.

Almost 72 hours after the accident, and as the Team make their way to Mauritius, skipper Chris Nicholson (Nico) and shore manager Neil Cox (Coxy), presently in Mauritius coordinating activities, give their take on recent events:

Abandoning the boat

Nico: “We knew there was shallow water on the other side of the reef in the lagoon side. The problem was that for most of the night we were on the deep water side and the boat was being beaten by those complete point break waves. Two hours before daylight, the boat leaned over heavily so I made the decision that we were getting off. We’d been practicing throughout the night how we were going to do it. We made the call and got on with the job.

Coxy: “They were into the life rafts and literally 20 mins later, I got another phone call saying we’re all good and we’re standing on a rock…we’ve paddled a quarter of a mile or whatever away from the boat. They were able to get on a rock above the reef, a good metre and a half above sea level. Everyone was accounted for, everyone safe, so of course that’s a huge relief. The whole situation was defused, but the reality of it is, they were standing on a rock in the middle of the Indian Ocean”.

Immediate concerns

Nico: “My major concerns were obviously for the well-being of my crew, and also everyone who may actually have felt for them that night as well. Some of my first phone calls after colliding with the reef, once I let Race Control know, were asking Neil Cox to get the families informed so that they knew what was going on. During the course of things we lost all electrical supply, we lost satphone coverage, and the old snowball thing was happening. I can only imagine what was happening with the families. So that’s my immediate concern and also that we need to recover this vessel as much as we possibly can.”

Coxy: “We have still got nine guys sitting on what is basically a sand pit out in the middle of the Indian Ocean. They are still the priority. It’s a peace of mind to know they’re all safe and doing everything they can out there with the boat right now.

The Mauritius Coast Guard flew over the islet yesterday and air dropped food and medicine to the shipwrecked crew. There is limited electricity available on the islet via a generator that operates part of the day. We’ve got the sat phone there, that’s our main source of communication.”

Next steps?

Coxy: “A fishing boat will pick the guys up early tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. It’s almost a day trip to get them back to Mauritius, so we’re looking at them arriving early Wednesday morning. I’m in the process right now of getting everyone’s customs clearance, getting all the bureaucracy sorted out before they get here, trying to make it as simple as possible for them. They’re stepping onto Mauritius with basically the clothing they’ve got on them.

We’re trying to bring as much back as we can on the fishing boat so it can be reused or returned or whatever needs to be. We’ll deal with the boat after that.

Just like any competitive or professional sport things can go wrong and they have to be dealt with as professionally as when everything is going right. I know I can speak for Nico, myself and our sponsor when I say that we want to make sure that everything is followed through 100%”.

Limiting environmental impact

Skipper Chris Nicholson and several others crew members have returned several times to the Vestas boat to remove as much environmentally sensitive material as possible. Given just how little they have to work with out there, the crew is demonstrating extraordinary professionalism and environmental responsibility in this regard.

Nico: “The whole crew spent as long a time as we could retrieving diesel, oil, hydraulics, batteries, water, food, equipment etc. from the boat to limit environmental impact. It’s an absolutely stunning lagoon and bird colony that’s on these islands, and it’s just unheard of - so we are going to do our best and clean up.”

Prince of Whales
12-02-2014, 10:03 AM
Interesting. Nice find!

12-02-2014, 12:12 PM
Together with colleagues from Volvo Ocean Race, Vestas is currently evaluating if the Team Vestas Wind boat can be repaired. Based on currently available information from the crew on Íle du Sud and the aerial photograph from the Mauritius Coast Guard, it may not be possible to do so. If the conclusion is that the boat cannot be repaired, Vestas will together with Volvo Ocean Race consider all available options for Vestas to remain in the race.

We will provide more information on the crew’s status and that of the boat when it becomes available. What we can say now, though, is that human error is at the root of the accident. We’ll learn more about the details of exactly what happened when we have a chance to properly de-brief with the crew, which we expect will happen in Abu Dhabi over the weekend.

The crew is currently en route to Mauritius and will meet there with a representative from Vestas Headquarters who is also en route to Mauritius.

Morten Albæk, Vestas Chief Marketing Officer comments, “Though we will not be able to compete in next leg of the Race from Abu Dhabi to Sanya, China, we are considering all available options for re-joining the ocean race at a later stage. Vestas is a company that has overcome great challenges in its 35 years of existence and we aim to do so again.”

One thing is clear, though: Vestas entered the Volvo Ocean Race with the ambition to promote even bigger and more important races – the race against climate change, against energy poverty, and against water scarcity. These are all races we still must win. Regardless of an eventual decision on Vestas’ future participation in the Volvo Ocean Race, we will continue working hard to promote global action to win these global races against climate change, energy poverty, and water scarcity.


Chris Nicholson’s stranded Team Vestas Wind crew are finally on their way back to civilisation.

They're transiting now to the Mauritius Island, after two days sitting on a remote “sand pit” in the Indian Ocean where there was a risk of shark encounters.

The team dramatically grounded their boat after ploughing into a reef on St Brandon archipelago on Saturday at 19 knots and were forced to abandon it in the early hours of the following day, before wading through knee-deep water to a dry position.

They were then picked up by a coastguard boat from the nearly Íle du Sud, a near deserted islet with no communications with the outside world.

The islet is serviced weekly by a 20-metre fishing vessel, called Eliza, from Mauritius, which is some 430 kilometres away to the south-west.

A trip to the holiday island takes more than a day to complete.

Australian skipper Nicholson’s nine-strong team finally are on their way after taking the ‘Eliza’ on Tuesday. From there, they plan to fly to Abu Dhabi at the end of the week.

“We’ve had nine guys sitting on a sand pit in the middle of the Indian Ocean,” said Neil Cox, the team’s shore crew chief.

“You’d think it’s a bad movie.

“You sit there and talk to the coast guard and they’re telling us about everything we’re dealing with on the technical side.

“Then they’re asking me to warn the guys that the reef is riddled full of sharks and barracuda and God knows what else.

“They’re telling me about a fisherman they found out there who’d been basically mauled by a barracuda and there was barely much of him to deal with.”

“You’re sitting there, going, yeah, well, next time I talk to Nico I might remind him that if they are wading out there in the reef, keep their eyes open.”
The team will arrive in Mauritius mid-morning on Wednesday with literally the clothes they have on their backs, Cox said.

“We want to make sure that even the simple things are covered; a clean T-shirt, undies, a toothbrush, a bit of food,” he said.

“The coast guard here did a flyover yesterday and they parachuted in cans of Coke and chocolate and cookies.”

“I don’t think people can totally appreciate how remote this place is. We saw there’s a coast guard out there; it’s literally a tool shed in someone’s backyard.”

The boat is being stripped of key kit and Cox is still working out how it can be retrieved.

He paid tribute to the crew for keeping their cool and professionalism after such a stunning collision on Leg 2.

“Their procedure, everything was as professional and as good as it could be - you couldn’t ask for more.”

Nicholson is a twice-Olympian who is one of the most experienced offshore sailors in the world.

He said that a ‘mistake’ had been responsible for the collision with the reef but did not elaborate.

Conan the Librarian
12-03-2014, 08:42 AM
Alvimedica is not going to receive redress after standing by all that time.

12-03-2014, 08:56 AM
That sucks.
They should at least get credit from the time they deviated from their course until they got it moving again.

Prince of Whales
12-03-2014, 11:33 AM
Or something. Protest in Abu Dhabi I suppose?

12-03-2014, 11:50 AM

The crew of Team Vesta Wind arrive in Mauritius, carrying the equipment they rescued from their boat, grounded on an Indian Ocean reef.



Team Vestas Wind's nine ship-wrecked men finally made it back to civilisation today, telling of their amazing escape from a collision with an Indian Ocean reef which grounded their boat.

The unshaven, exhausted, uninjured team were holed up, incommunicado, for three days in the remote archipelago after their boat ran into the reef on Saturday afternoon at 1510 UTC.

“I’m really disappointed of course,” said Chris Nicholson, their 45-year-old skipper from Australia, shortly after arriving at dockside in Mauritius.

“On the other hand, we have to realise how fortunate we are for everyone to be here in one piece, and to be healthy. It’s pretty amazing, so there’s a lot of emotions at the moment.”


“The past four days have been very challenging for all of us, and I am extremely proud of the whole crew’s professionalism, composure, and endurance.
"It’s clear that human error is responsible for the shipwreck, there’s no avoiding that. And as skipper, I take ultimate responsibility."

They had smashed into the coral rock at 19 knots – the equivalent of 35 kilometres an hour – in their 65-foot boat, span 180 degrees and crashed to a halt, grounded on the reef.

They remained on the reef until the small hours of the following morning, before abandoning the boat in pitch darkness and wading in knee-deep water to a dry position on the reef, led by Nicholson - aka Nico.

A small boat from the local coastguard then took them early on Sunday to a small islet, Íle du Sud, which is known as a favourite with shark-watching holiday-makers.


Their blue vessel, caught underneath breaking waves, is badly damaged, but the crew decided to remain for an extra 24 hours to complete a clean-up operation around the area.

“The bad things had to come off,” said the skipper, having just stepped off the local fishing boat, ‘The Eliza’, that transported his crew back to the mainland.

“We had a clear list of removing that equipment, and once we had all those off the boat it came down to removing things that were expensive.

“We’ve done a really good job in clearing it all up.”


Experienced New Zealander sailor Rob Salthouse was also keen to focus on the positives.

“It’s just good to be back on dry land,” he said.

“I think the team has grown strong with what we’ve been through.”
Danish sailor Peter Wibroe, white shirt stained yellow by sand, sweat and sea salt, was full of admiration for his leader.

“I must say that the team worked really well together, especially Nico, the skipper, who led the whole situation in a very professional way.

He continues. “We all felt extremely safe despite the situation.

"We were conscious about what was going on and we all had our responsibilities."

“We worked really well as a team, and that’s why we’re all here today.”

all images ©Marc Bow/Volvo Ocean Race


Born 2 Sail
12-03-2014, 12:56 PM
A small victory, but a victory, none the less.

12-03-2014, 09:56 PM
Color me confused. The escape from the boat sounds harrowing, as I would expect it to be. But they were able to salvage pretty much everything they could unbolt including the boom? How the hell did they "salvage" all that diesel and hydraulic fluid as the RC tries to spin this into a positive story?

Either way gnarly story and I'm glad everybody is safe. Just hitting the dirt at 19 knots seems like it could have been much worse, let along bashing about in the surf all night.

I really liked the sponsor and was hoping this team had a good showing to raise awareness.

Dutch Rudder
12-04-2014, 09:28 AM
They were on the tail end of the tropical storm the night they crashed.

Things mellowed out the days following?

12-04-2014, 11:34 AM

Gut wrenching video of Team Vesta's Wind ultimate fate and the aftermath....



all images Brian Carlin Team Vestas Wind/Volvo Ocean Race






Buzz Light Beer
12-04-2014, 11:43 AM
Off the hook!

Carl Spackler
12-04-2014, 11:58 AM
Hard to keep pirates out with a hole that large in the transom.

Abandoning the mission was the right choice!

12-04-2014, 01:48 PM
They should have all climbed up the the weather rail for a group shot, for a gift to Knut at Christmas.

Built to List
12-04-2014, 01:56 PM
Sail it like you stole it?

Angry Dolphin
12-04-2014, 03:23 PM
looks like they had no idea what the hell they hit, even thought they were staring straight at the reef.

Buzz Light Beer
12-04-2014, 03:58 PM
Wonder if they will send additional crews in to get more bits and pieces?

12-04-2014, 04:13 PM

Volvo just released a trimmed down bit with some narration...

Panama Red
12-04-2014, 09:36 PM
Awesome coverage dude!

12-05-2014, 10:00 AM
We finally have means of communications again, so a message is highly over due….

I am totally devastated and still in shock as the gravity of our grounding is slowly sinking in now that we are safely in Mauritius with finally some time to reflect on what happened.

We are very lucky that nobody was hurt, and a lot of that is credit to our team work in the seconds, minutes and hours after the crash.

I made a big mistake, but then we didn’t make any others even though there were many difficult decision to be made and the situation was very challenging and grave indeed.

Once I can get power to the boats laptops (if they survived) I can look further into how we didn’t see the reef on the electronic charts. I did check the area on the electronic chart before putting my head down for a rest after a very long day negotiating the tropical storm and what I saw was depths of 42 and 80m indicated. There is a very good article posted on http://blog.geogarage.com/2014/12/questions-asked-about-volvo-ocean-race.html.

I can assure you that before every leg we diligently look at our route before we leave and I use both Google Earth, paper charts and other tools. However, our planned route changed just before we left, and with the focus on the start and the tricky conditions, I erroneously thought I would have enough information with me to look at the changes in our route as we went along. I was wrong. I am not trying to make any excuses – just trying to offer up some form of explanation and answer to some of your questions.

There are a number of lessons to be learned from this, which we hope will be able to relay in the time to come.

I am immensely grateful for all the support that we as a team, my family and myself have received from our wonderful friends, colleagues, family, Vestas, Powerhouse and Volvo. More over we are heavily in debt to the thorough support of Alvimedica throughout the first night, as well as the local fisherman and the coastguard of Ile du Sud in the atol. So I want to thank everybody so very much. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I am forever in your debt.



Charlie Tuna
12-05-2014, 10:33 AM
Gotta feel for Wouter. Our dependency on electronic navigation devices can prove costly.

The family that was snowbound between Merlin and the Oregon coast a few years back after their GPS showed them
a road, but not that it was closed in winter comes to mind.

12-05-2014, 01:32 PM

November 30, Team Vestas Wind face the reality of their grounding with an Indian Ocean reef. “Never have we been tested than what we were last night,” says skipper Chris Nicholson.

Sanity Check
12-05-2014, 02:10 PM
Not to diminish far more serious causes of such, but I know that PTSD symptoms will remain in their future.

12-05-2014, 02:50 PM

The Inside Track gets the full story of the shipwreck of Team Vestas Wind from Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad.

12-08-2014, 10:14 AM
Team Vestas Wind looks at new boat option

ABU DHABI, December 8 - Team Vestas Wind is ‘exploring the opportunity’ of re-entering the Volvo Ocean Race with a new boat just over a week after their Volvo Ocean 65 ran into a reef in the Indian Ocean..

With their crew now safely on land, attention has turned to retrieving the stricken vessel, grounded on the Cargados Carajos Shoals (St Brandon), some 260 miles north east of Mauritius - and whether the Danish team will return to the race.

“It is Vestas’ clear ambition to get Team Vestas Wind out sailing again,” said the sailing team’s CEO Morten Albæk, at a press call in Abu Dhabi. “We’ll do everything within our means to make that happen.

“That said, the assessment from all parties is that the boat can’t be repaired, and therefore one of the options we’re looking into is building a new boat,” added Albæk, who is also title sponsors Vestas’ Chief Marketing Officer.

“Whether that can be done, and done in a time which is meaningful for Team Vestas Wind to re-enter the race, is still to be concluded.

“We’re working closely together with Volvo Ocean Race on exploring that opportunity.”

Skipper Chris Nicholson (AUS), who led his crew in an early hours evacuation from the boat on November 29, and on to the remote island of Íle du Sud, where they remained for the next 48 hours before hitching a ride to Mauritius on a local fishing boat, echoed those hopes.


“Prior to the crash in the preceding 48 hours, Wouter and I in regard to our normal duties of looking where the boat was going with the routing, noticed that there would be some seamounts. When I saw those I asked what the depths and the currents and the wave conditions would be.

“Wouter’s reply was that the depths went from 3000m to 40m, (which) were the extremes of the depths, the current was negligible and we would monitor the wave state as we approached...”

Team Vestas Wind navigator Wouter Verbraak (NED) explained the reason for the accident to the media:

“In hindsight we would’ve continued to zoom in on the area much more, on the electronic charts. Not doing so is the big mistake that I made, but the good thing is that we didn’t make any more.”

The incident happened around the midway point of the 5,200 nautical mile Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi of the nine-month round-the-world race which finishes in Gothenburg, Sweden, on June 27 next year.


It is Australian Nicholson’s fifth Volvo Ocean Race, and he and the rest of the crew have been debriefed by team and race officials over the weekend in Abu Dhabi and will shortly return home to their individual countries.

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad explained that, for the damaged boat, the recovery operation is still ongoing, and the parties involved are working together to bring about a swift resolution.

“We’re all making our absolute best efforts to do what is right. We have a very clear mission on this and that is to make sure that the absolute minimum impact is done to the environment.

“The plan is to remove the boat, either in its current form, or in a different form. We’re working on this right now, trying to make it happen as quickly as possible.

“Our next objective is to learn from this, and support Vestas, Powerhouse, and the team in their efforts to have a future in the race.

“I must underline that that is no small challenge. I don’t want anyone to have expectations that this will easily happen; it’s an enormous challenge.

“But the Volvo Ocean Race is all about enormous challenges - and here is another one.”

Patrick Lammers, a member of retail board RWE, said on behalf of sub-sponsors Powerhouse: “We are seeking opportunities to return to the race as soon as possible. In what form, and when, is impossible to say at this time, but all options are seriously considered.”

Full Press Conference (http://www.volvooceanrace.com/static/assets/content_v2/media/audios/m31686_141208-team-vestas-wind-media-conference-call.mp3)

Charlie Tuna
12-08-2014, 02:17 PM
Doesn't sound like Team Vesta's Wind will get a new boat very soon. Maybe in time for Auckland start?

12-08-2014, 11:09 PM
Time presses on and as the world has been focusing on the tragedy which was the Team Vesta's Wind grounding, the remaining boat have slowly but surely made their way north towards the ever distant Abu Dhabi. Here are some of the most recent posts from the boats:

Tracker (http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/virtualeye.html)

Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race

To quote Big Bird, “Today is brought you by the letter ‘S’ for the word ‘Shifty.’” That’s the best way to describe the last 24 hours: shifty. This is specifically in reference to the wind out here in the Indian Ocean.

Shifty wind is just that: wind that shifts. All day long, the helmswoman keeps saying: “it’s really shifty.” Annie explained that you’ll be steering to 60 degrees wind angle and the sails will be trimmed to this angle as well. Then, the wind will shift and you’re helming off course and with bad trim—so you slow down.

It’s almost like driving down a road and all of a sudden cones start popping up, forcing you to detour your track just slightly. What would take an hour from point A to point B takes a lot longer per result.

“I’m shocked how shifty the wind is out here. I’m still getting used to it,” Annie said. “Usually you’ll see these types of conditions closer to land as you’re bobbing and weaving coasts and land thermals. It’s strange that it’s happening out here.”

The strange conditions are per result of the warm air and warm water mixing with the colder air high in the sky. This is why we are seeing massive rain squalls with loads of wind followed by Doldrum conditions with no wind.

The weather out here is pretty unreal—we’re definitely not in the Atlantic Ocean nor the Southern Ocean. Similar to Leg 1, the majority of this leg should be somewhat predictable in regards to trade winds. However, the tropical ‘storm’ from the other week has really affected the typical wind patterns.

The trade winds we so badly wanted to catch on to have simply been non-existent. The water is also incredibly flat considering we’re offshore. Sometimes, I’m convinced we’re actually just sailing in a goldfish bowl.

Needless to say there’s an edge (or shall I say ‘air’) of frustration on board and the shifty conditions do not help. Like the little girl who wants her two front teeth for Christmas, all we want is to get into some proper ‘send it’ conditions. We want conditions where we can unleash the power of our sails and sailors.

Finally, the shifty conditions are like salt in our position wound. It does not help that we slowly see ourselves slipping further and further behind the leaders. We so badly want to give a proper battle fight with the rest of the fleet, rather than claw.

“I thought if we could keep it 300nm or under to the leaders I would feel okay,” Dee said. “But now that number is increasing so it’s getting harder and harder.”

Like Leg 1, the wind just doesn’t seem to want to show up ready to work. It’s as if the wind is distracted—shows up for a bit, does what its supposed to do, then decides that a hot coffee sounds good or maybe a croissant.

Because of these fluky conditions, we can’t help but feel a bit disheartened. What have we done to the wind for it to show up for the rest of the fleet and not for us?!

All this said, we’re keeping our heads down—not like an Osteridge and in the sand but more like an Eagle building a nest in the mountains. We’re staying focused and really pulling every inch out of every shift and whisper of wind. Afterall, we are Team SCA—we are a team of strong, hard working, fighting women.

Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race

“C’mon wind…”, Ian muttered while patiently but intently stared at the red numbers on the mast for the slightest change. His eyes are squinted, not because of the fading sunlight on the horizon but because he’s looking ahead for signs on the water.

We need a lift – a shift in the wind rotating to the right – to help us gain speed and have a chance at beating Brunel and Dongfeng to the next mark on the course.

It’s been a battle all day; seemingly bleeding miles to the two teams to windward. Finally, on the latest sked before sunset, the first signs of optimism: we sailed 10 miles further. Ian did his familiar six-or-so trips up and back from the nav station reporting all the details from the position report to all us on deck. This was a good sign in itself; usually if a sked was bad he goes down below and doesn’t come up. We’re on the mend.

But for how long? Brunel and Dongfeng have wind that is arcing them towards the mark and at a faster angle. There is still plenty of race track left: a reaching drag race to Oman, then the light air winds of the Straight of Hormuz, and finally the unpredictable Arabian Gulf as we close in on Abu Dhabi. But with the last Leg being decided by 15 minutes, and the top three teams again vying for the prize, we can’t afford to bleed any more.

C’mon wind.

Matt Knighton/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race

It feels a bit like an intermission, a TV timeout—a break for commercials. If we could just hit pause to get up and stretch the legs, maybe we’d come back a little more excited. But for the time being it feels like we’re staring through the screen and going through the motions at half speed. With the winds unlikely to build in the remaining week(s), odds are it will stay that way—in a sort of slow motion. Frustrating, for a boat that’s designed to sail at 40 knots, to live for so long at 7.

Our directive has remained virtually unchanged since leaving Vestas: just get north. Fortunately SCA and Mapfre offer a measure of tactical distraction but the nuances are getting smaller and now that we’re [hopefully] clear of the doldrums the options shrink still. We have some leverage on Mapfre well to the east and there is an opportunity to gain a place there, but unless things change drastically in the Persian Gulf, the leaders are out of reach.

We’ve got plenty of food, no shortage of stories and soon enough we’ll get to a more interesting stretch of water with headlands, traffic, and scenery; that will help speed things up a little. For now we’re trying to stay patient and entertained, and trying to stay out of the sun. But the abundant downtime has Christmas, families, and a possible trip home for the holidays weighing heavy on our minds!

Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach

In Team Brunel’s cockpit is a small black box. The screen shows different sorts of information. Boat speed, wind direction, AND, the exact distance to the competitors, 5.8. “That means that we are 5.8 nautical miles ahead of Dongfeng Race Team! YEAH,"says Gerd-Jan Poortman.

The distance to Dongfeng has already been the source of many bets for a few days onboard. "For a packet of biscuits, we bet that in the next two hours we will sail 0.5nm away from Dongfeng."

And so it began. Consequently, the Fruitella Candy Bars, the cookies and the chocolate mouses left the food bags.

Whether it’s a coincidence or not, the team has been in an excellent position. We’ve got to sail another 1,00nm though, closely followed by the Chinese.

Bouwe Bekking is beaming at the thought of a victory, but he warns: "We will pass through the Strait of Hormuz just before arriving in Abu Dhabi. It’s a piece of water surrounded by high mountains. Do you already role the dice? It may be the most difficult part of this leg."

On deck, the boys are in a happy mode. "5.8nm... I bet that it’ll be 7 at the end of the day," laughs Pablo Arrarte. The chocolate biscuits distributed on deck make for an euphoric mood. "We are on fire."

Abu Dhabi is in sight. But let's hope that the bottom of the food bag still remains out of sight for now!

Stefan Coppers/Team Brunel/Volvo Ocean Race

Matt Knighton/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

12-09-2014, 10:23 AM
Why is everybody calling the Vestas deal a tragedy? If nobody got hurt its just a crash. LSC was a tragedy...

Looks like the 'merican boat is making a strong push back into the fleet.

12-09-2014, 06:29 PM
The hype for the Volvo Ocean Race is unceasing! I've given up on "Scuttlebutt" since half of each issue is just a reprint of the PR shills for the race. Now crews are starving to death, fighting over the last crumb of freeze dry or sweltering in an airless box on the edge of dehydration. But back to "tragedy." As a retired "Engish teacher" guy, the difference between "tragedy" and "disaster" is pretty much a matter of degree today. The etymology of each word of course derives from Latin. Originally a tragedy was (in simple terms) a play that ended when everyone died - as opposed to a comedy where everyone got married and died an even slower death. Originally disaster was an unfavorable aspect of a planet, moon, star that caused famine, plague, another Kardashian to be born.

In today's common usage, a "disaster" is an event that brings about great damage, loss, destruction, and possibly as a side note, a few deaths. A "tragedy" on the other hand almost always involves death. In today's news it was a tragedy when that private jet hit the house, killing the mother and her two sons, as well as the three souls on board the plane. A disaster will be the flooding from tomorrow's Bay Area storm which will cause widespread problems and monetary loss. One or two speeding, aqua-planing drivers may die as well, but the storm will hardly be classed as a tragedy. Unless the Volvo race PR team is doing double duty and writing local new stories for the news reader/heads to read at 6:00.

Probably, however, the Vestas grounding doesn't rise to either of these definitions.

12-09-2014, 07:06 PM
What's the English root for "fuk up of epic proportions"?

With all the technology available these days why doesn't the chart plotter sound an alarm when your course averages directly at a reef? The data was in the system...

Carl Spackler
12-09-2014, 08:59 PM
We need more major f$%k-ups to keep the race interesting. Far too many miles in boring conditions just to please the sponsoring ports.

Else the whole race becomes a tragedy.

PD Staff
12-10-2014, 10:43 PM

It’s only the beginning of the leg and already big decisions are needed. For the teams picking the right moment to gybe north into the Indian Ocean is crucial. For Alvimedica, it’s also time to touch base with some of their younger fan while some of the other teams are using some of the light wind patch to prep and repair their rigs for what’s to come.

12-12-2014, 11:01 AM


What: still leading
Where: Strait of Hormuz
How much distance with number 2: It changes every 15 minutes… a mile
What are we doing: Tacking and chasing small puffs
Record without sleep: Capey, now for two days
Record of coffee drinking: Capey, now leading with 16 cups in 48 hours
Are we gonna win this race Capey: “Yes, I can feel it”

"Krijg toch allemaal de kolere"

The “Strait of Hormuz” is like Schiphol air zone in the Dutch polder after a long flight. Just when you think you are nearly there… you’re way off.

The Volvo Ocean Race boats are moving towards their goal – Abu Dhabi. But with the port in sight, the speed drops and a bloody long way remains until you’re on the taxiway.

The smell of waterpipe and freshly cooked sheep is in the air. If only we’d have a little breeze to bring it to us.

"Come on Huey, give us some breeze". Bekking even asks the God of Wind to help out! Team Brunel’s sails are flapping helplessly, looking for wind.

At the bow, Johnny Poortman starts singing "krijg toch allemaal de kolere" (which means something like ”why don’t you all go to hell”). He means every word. Luckily for us, our Siamese twin Dongfeng is in the same boat. They’re still hot on our heels.

And then the big sails of Team Brunel catch the wind. The yellow Volvo Ocean 65 immediately carves the glassy water at nine knots… for about three minutes. The Dutch team is back in the parking mode.

"It’s been like this for days”, says Poortman. “Run and stop.” The flat sea shows small wrinkles here and there. Who grabs the most wrinkles will be the winner of this exciting leg. Dongfeng misses out on a little gust of wind and are instantly 1.5 mile behind.

The Chinese tack. Team Brunel responds instantly and tacks along. The risk of a “private wrinkle” for Dongfeng is too big. Hoopla, everybody out of bed. Rokas Milevicius is on the grinder in his boxer. "It’s not just about being there,” says the Lithuanian, “we’ve been on our way for 21 days and now we want to win!”

Poortman: "I would get so sick if we lost it now because of missing one small shift.” And again we hear Johnny sing on the front deck… "Krijg toch allemaal de kolere."

December 12, 2014 Stefan Coppers OBR, Team Brunel



Flat sea and three knots of wind….

It started with: “Everybody on deck!”

Everyone came out. And it was totally worth it, for we witnessed a surreal scene. After 24 days of racing, Brunel, our Leg 2 partner, is crossing only a few lengths ahead of us…

They seem to have a different wind, the two boats being on a parallel, yet opposed, route. A few moments of silence onboard, and we had weighed the situation. We chose to keep sailing on our tack.

“In this situation, one must be right, and the other is wrong…”

So we kept sailing in our wind, painfully. After several minutes, Brunel tacked and came to sail two miles windward of us. They’ve got more wind and sail two knots fast. I don’t know how they had foreseen all of this, but they’ve done very well.

Some long minutes followed, when we could only notice that we were reaching two knots only when they’re flirting with a five-knot boat speed.

More than two and half times faster… The crew at the chart table announces Brunel’s speed on a regular basis 4.2 knots, 4.5 knots, 4.8 knots…

Will you shut up?

Have a nice day.

Yann Riou OBR, Dongfeng Race Team



Yesterday night we caught sight of Team Alvimedica to starboard and just a few miles ahead of us. 14 days after we saw the last boat this was a morale booster and we think we can turn the situation around.

But it won’t be easy, for conditions are really difficult to predict and Will Oxley is a very experienced navigator who knows where to put his boat.

We had light winds over the night and peeled from MH0 to A3 to MH0 at dawn. The plancton (I believe it’s such) in this area is really bright and nice to see, especially on a moonless night, which caused it to shine even more than normal.

We could see schools of fish swimming underneath and leaving a phosphorescent trail behind, and even the flying fish would draw nice shiny shapes in the water. I’ve tried to capture it but it’s technically impossible.

I’ll figure out how to do it for this is one of the best shows mother nature delivers at sea. Dawn was spectacular, I think I took one of my best dawn pictures ever, looks like a painting as a matter of fact.

Close to the coast of Oman we waited for the sea breeze to start sailing again. At around 9:00 it should kick in following Jean-Luc. He admits he’s never sailed here before.

We are stuck right now and we only see some gusts come and go. We are back on the bow, all piled up.

¡Come on MAPFRE!

Francisco Vignale OBR, MAPFRE



We are stuck in no wind... again. It's like we've run out of gas... again. It would be one thing if this was a first for us but it feels like we've been leapfrogging no wind holes for about 6,000 miles from Cape Town.

Leap froggingpuffs and shifty breezes in order to get just a little bit closer to what we hope is a magical long lived breeze on the horizon.

Unfortunately, it never is for us and we are are soon swallowed again by a wind hole. Wind like this would do any sane person's head in!

"No wind sucks," Carolijn said. "But the weather files say 0.0 knots of wind and we have a bit of heal on at the moment so I guess we shouldn't be complaining too much!"

The rest of the fleet as paid their dues and worked through this zone so it's been a bit of a mind game. We remain in pressure, they stay stuck in no breeze, and we gain. No wind swallows us, they sneak out of no wind, and they gain... It's an incredibly vicious cycle!

As we are stuck in this cycle of doom, we can't help but allow our imaginations to get out from under us and we have begun thinking of creative ways to break the cycle and sail past some of the fleet. Ideas include the other VOR65s are abducted by Aliens or they get into a fight with a giant squid. We're also imagining giant hippos stampeding their way over the boats, however that idea doesn't seem logical as we are far from Hippopotamus territory.

Soon though, after we break out of our vicious no wind cycle, we will arrive in Abu Dhabi, exhausted after a tactically challenging Straits of Hormuz, and hopefully enjoy fresh food like hamburgers, chips, cucumbers, raspberries, and cheesecake.

We have a few days left of fighting though and are fueled by the fact that today is Twix day - a special day for all of us, especially Sam and Libby. Today, Sam will have to resist the desire to eat her Twix as she might have to hand over her Twix to Libby upon our arrival if we don't arrive on the 15th.

However, fingers crossed Sam won't hand it over - well unless we arrive on the 14th!

Corinna Halloran OBR, Team SCA



So far everything is living up to the hype. Not a hint of wind to be found out here at sunrise, the Gulf a mirror as far as the eye can see. It is exactly what we expected but no less frustrating in actuality.

This is two legs now that the final 1,000 miles have been dominated by unbearably light air. It doesn’t seem fair, to be so close but so far. Another cruel twist to conclude six thousand miles.

But holy smokes, what a unique stretch of water. Last night was arguably one of the most visually impressive I have ever spent on a boat. I mean that. From the sunset to the sunrise. Slicing through the sea’s surface the bioluminescence were on fire. It was like the water was plugged in—it was that electric. A Halogen wake.

Everywhere you looked there was sealife in motion. Even the slightest stir would create an explosion of neon blue, a flying fish dancing along the glassy surface, each footstep aglow, a blossoming ball of squid or fish, visible far underneath the surface, or the dolphins playing under the bow, their shades and stripes aglow to the naked eye with such incredible detail, a torpedo-trail of blue in their wake.

It felt fake, like some special effects scene from of a big-budget James Cameron film. No one had seen anything like it, not even close. As Nick said—I was “peaking,” excited to finally catch the often-talked about night lights on camera. Phosphorescent and bioluminescence activity is usually far too faint for the sensors of a camera, but not last night.

Unbelievable. And the stars got their attention, too, shining so bright you could see the reflections on the water at your feet. Then the Omanese mountains to the south at sunrise--large, barren, equally as impressive.

That’s kind of it in a nutshell. We’re drifting, it’s no fun, Mapfre is visible but we have to assume they’re at a standstill, too. There’s some wind in the short-term forecast, byproduct of a high-pressure system to the north, that should propel us to the Straits where we’ll park-up again for another night of drifting.

But the view. The experience. For the very short time being, it’s keeping [at least] me distracted just enough to forget that we still have 400 miles to Abu Dhabi!

Amory Ross OBR, Team Alvimedica

If you could’ve seen all eight faces on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing when the 1300 position report arrived today you would’ve see sixteen eyes wide open with anxiousness turn into eight broad smiles of elation.

The tension of the past three days disappeared…we sailed twenty miles further than the leaders and were drawing even to get back in the race! Seriously, people (namely Adil) did a few dance moves on deck.

After the previous day’s skeds, our routings hadn’t been optimistic -- it seemed increasingly likely we would need a miracle from Mother Nature to survive. However, as the sun came up and we split closer to the Omani coast - that’s exactly what happened.

Ian, Justin, and Adil were on the bow of Azzam, elbows propped up on the stack of sails staring over the flat water when the wind started to fill in. It was much more than anticipated – 9 knots. You always assume it’s a just a quick gust that soon will die out. This one held for the next 11 hours.

It was as if Adil had called up the local wind machine. He predicted that at 0900 we would get the sea breeze as we drew closer to shore. Sure enough, we could’ve set our watches to it.

There were no waves on the water, just sea breeze and a solid gradient from the east shooting us along the glassy waters into dusk. After four hours, the position report showed that we had sailed an average of eleven knots to the others three.

Now, there’s a magnificent star show out as that strong wind is beginning to soften. Chuny is on the bow doing what looks like a 70’s dance routine communicating sail trim to Daryl at the helm with hand signals.

Azzam keeps slicing through the water….we’re hoping they’re drifting out there.

Matt Knighton OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

12-13-2014, 08:56 AM


Two wily old campaigners, Bouwe Bekking and Andrew Cape, picked Dongfeng Race Team’s pocket to edge out the Chinese boat and claim Leg 2 honours for Team Brunel on Saturday morning.

The pair have 11 previous Volvo Ocean Races behind them and all that experience told in the final stretch of this 5,200 nautical mile, incident-packed stage from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.

We’d all hoped for a race down to the wire as the sun broke on the Emirates and that’s exactly what the two leaders, who had earlier shaken off Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, served up for us.

It was nick and tuck all the way towards the finish line with first the Dutch, and then the Chinese boat, looking favourite to take the winners’ laurels on a packed Abu Dhabi dock.


Ariel Images © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race


Finally, Charles Caudrelier looked to have secured the advantage for Dongfeng and his mix of experienced French and rookie Chinese sailors.

But Bekking and Cape, who chalk up 103 years between them, had one last card to play and they found some timely wind pressure, apparently from nowhere, to streak past Dongfeng and secure a crucial one-mile advantage.

They never looked liked being caught again and Dongfeng Race Team were once more forced to settle for a narrow second-best, 16 minutes behind Team Brunel after three weeks of tough sailing since the departure in Cape Town on November 19. They had been pipped by 12 minutes by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing on Leg 1.

The big Dutch skipper, who competed in his first Whitbread Round the World Race back in 1985-86, sported his trademark wide smile as he cruised from the finish line to the dock on a flawless, sun-drenched morning.

"It is a good feeling," he beamed. "I’ve always said, it’s better to be lucky than good but we’ve been good this leg as well so it’s so nice to win this one because it could have been an easy leg to finish last. It’s just really nice to get the scores but the team did a fantastic job, we sailed the boat much better than in the first leg. So that’s the nicest feeling of all.


It was certainly not all plain sailing for the winners, though, in this new era of one-design Volvo Ocean 65 sailing.

"It’s just hard work. In the past you could probably relax a little bit because you had a fast boat but now it’s just full on all the time. When you make a mistake then somebody else gets the advantage.

"That puts the pressure on a lot, especially the young guys. They sometimes can’t really cope when they lose one or two places when the big wind shift comes or a light puff. But they did a tremendous job as well on this leg. It’s been a good one."

Caudrelier, in contrast, tried his best but couldn’t conceal his disappointment in a pre-finish call to Race HQ:

“Brunel have been much faster than us since a few days and we don’t know why. We’re a bit disappointed because we did a good job to pass them, but they keep passing us. You have to do well, but you also have to be fast. If you’re not fast, it’s difficult to win a leg.

“We’re not so happy (about second). We always want to improve, but for sure it’s good news for Dongfeng. We try to do the leg and try to improve it every leg. We showed that we can play the match with the best, and we’re proud of that.”

There was plenty of consolation for Dongfeng. The result, with Leg 1 winners Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in third, means that they are joint top of the standings after two stages on four points.

Team Brunel and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing rank ahead of them, however, because of leg wins achieved with the Dutch crew ahead because they recorded the most recent victory.

1. Team Brunel finish time: 08:25:20 UTC / Elapsed time: 23d 16h 25m 20s

2. Dongfeng Race Team finish time 08:41:40 UTC / Elapsed time: 23d 16h 41m 40s

3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing finish time: 11:08:15 UTC / Elapsed time: 23d 19h 8m 15s

“Hello Abu Dhabi!”

The local crowd cheers for Ian Walker and his guys.

Taking third in the Emirati city, the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing sailors have come home. It may not the result they were hoping for, but they’re happy nonetheless.

It has been a long and tricky leg, they’ve made it to Abu Dhabi safely and on the podium, and their local sailor Adil Khalid is frantically waving the United Arab Emirates flag.

“It’s a proud moment for us – we’re making our families proud and making our country proud,” he says.

“It was such an amazing leg, sailing in the Indian Ocean, in the Gulf… You cannot describe these things.”

In fact, it is difficult to describe this leg, all the way from Cape Town to the Emirates.

“A pretty tough one really, much more of a mystery than the first leg,” confirms navigator Simon Fisher, looking slightly disappointed, but very relieved.

“We were trying to figure things out, and we’re still happy than we made most of the decisions right. It wasn’t perfect because we’re coming in third and not first, but we’re happy.”

It was definitely a happy team who crossed the line at 11:08:15 UTC before docking in.
“If you make a podium, you can have a reasonable smile on your face,” grins Ian.

The British skipper did want more, but it hasn’t been a smooth leg for the Azzam crew.

They sailed pretty much on their own and didn’t manage to overtake Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team in the final days, despite a close fight. They even caught a crab pot on the keel today, only couple of miles from the finish line.

“I’ve got mixed feelings really,” adds Ian. “We wanted to win this leg. Two days ago, we were ahead of Dongfeng, and we were back into it last night again but we’ve never been close enough to make it.

“But look, we’re in third place, people are in good shape, the boat is in one piece. This is a very long race. We’ve had two great results, first and third, and we’ll just keep chipping away.”

Fresh dates are presented to them, and mint tea too. He smiles.
“We’re very pleased, and looking forward to a fantastic three weeks.”

12-14-2014, 10:07 PM
It has been a long leg for Team Alvimedica, and a slow, never-ending finish at sunset, in Abu Dhabi waters.

The Turkish/American boat did lead the race early on, stopped to assist Team Vestas Wind when their competitors hit a reef north of Mauritius, resumed racing and caught up with Team SCA and MAPFRE. But they were finally overtaken by the Spanish team and ended the leg in a painful drift across the Gulf.

“This leg has had its ups and downs and we definitely need to work on our consistency,” admits Charlie Enright, the skipper.“But we’ve got a good plan in place and we’ll work on the best way to achieve it.”

For the youngest crew in the race, this leg was all about learning. Learning about the race – four of them are rookies, learning about their boat, learning about their performance at sea. “We’ve had a lot of time together and conversations naturally evolved from the fun things to our performance,” explains Amory Ross, the Onboard Reporter.

“We’re happy about boat speed. We know we’re competitive in a straight line; we just need to know where to point the bow. It’s not a personal problem or a chemistry issue. Our greatest attribute is we’re a young group of guys looking to improve.”
They’ve learned about the reality of the race too, and its ruthlessness.

“The Vestas incident is something that will stick with us for a long time,” sighs Mark Towill, who admits feeling “a bit mentally drained.” Having suspended racing for 9.5 hours to provide assistance to the blue boat, the Alvimedica guys can now apply for redress. “And we’ve just been bleeding miles to MAPFRE these past days,” adds Mark. “Yes, a little down, but excited to wrap this up and prepare for the next leg.”

Charlie and his eight teammates are now looking forward to debriefing properly in Abu Dhabi. Some are heading home; others are staying in the Emirates before the next leg. “Part of us want to start Leg 3 tomorrow,” concludes the 30-year old skipper, “but it will be good to have some time to rest and reflect. We’re excited about where we are. It’s just a matter of refining some small things.”

photo © Francois Nel/Volvo Ocean Race


Team Alvimedica finish time: 13 29 23 UTC / Elapsed time: 024d 21h 29m 23s

photo © Francois Nel/Volvo Ocean Race

It wasn’t the arrival they wanted and the frustration of a maddening, 25-day leg was etched on every one of the faces of Team SCA as they finally reached Abu Dhabi in the middle of the night.

They may be the first female team to take part in offshore sailing’s toughest event since 2001-02 but that stat alone was never going to satisfy these driven, skilled women sailors. Make no mistake, they are competitors to the core and to end sixth and last of the teams to make it to the UAE still hurts. Badly.

As they crossed the finish line, there were no high fives, no whoops or hollers from the 11 sailors at 2223 UTC, 0123 local time in Abu Dhabi. They looked like a crew who just wanted to bring the boat to shore with the minimum of fuss and get some much needed rest and recuperation before the next leg sets off for Sanya on January 3.

Onboard reporter Corinna Halloran spoke for them all in her last blog from the boat on the final day before they completed the leg in 25 days 6 hours and 23 minutes.
“We are here to race, not to watch,” she wrote, the defiance reflected in every word. “We are here to lead, not to follow. Yes, we are paving a road for the future of everyday women who dare to dream big. But we are also competitive athletes and coming in last, regardless, is always tough.”

By the time they had crossed the finish line not long after midnight in barely a breath of wind, they had mustered some grim smiles to greet their welcoming shore crew, decked out in blue and magenta and holding aloft Team SCA battle flags.

The maddening point for them is that this crew just knows that they can keep up with guys on boat speed as they have proved in two legs now. But a navigational error or two on a leg of 25 days have been magnified cruelly with the weather gods refusing to give them a break.

By three-quarters of the way through the 5,200 nautical mile leg, it was a game of catch-up with the five other boats still in the stage after Team Vestas Wind’s grounding – and they always looked unlikely to make up the gap.

The Volvo Ocean Race sure takes some beating as sailing's school of hard knocks.
“It’s still a learning process. We’re all learning together, applying what we learned from Leg 1 and putting that into practice for Leg 2,” said skipper Sam Davies (GBR).
“Every condition is a good opportunity to keep learning and keep making the boat go a bit faster. We made a navigational mistake which put us behind and then it became a procession. That was hard.

“We’re focusing on everything. It’s all new to us. Our debriefs are packed with everything you can think of. “The hard bits (as a skipper) are the communications, maybe that’s because I come from single-handed sailing. There are a lot of things I’m trying to learn and trying to do better.”

Nobody said offshore sailing was easy and certainly not the Volvo Ocean Race. But these women will never give up. They will be back, wiser, tougher and more determined than ever.

photo © Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

Abby Ehler (GBR)

"It was a race of two parts, we were sailing really well at the beginning of the leg and a slight navigational error with the routing set us on the back foot and then from there we were never really given a chance to catch up. Again, a huge learning curve, but we are all still loving what we are doing, sailing the boat really well, and we just have to keep pushing.

It is hard to keep the motivation up when you are not anywhere near the other boats, I guess you could use the analogy of driving a car around a race track and if you have got a fleet of cars around you, you know how to gauge yourself, you know how fast you are going to take a corner or where you are going to brake. It is the same with sailing, if you have no one nearby to judge your speed against, then you never know how hard to push the boat, when to pull back – it is the same thing."


Team SCA finish time: 22 23 34 UTC / Elapsed time: 025d 06h 23m 34s

photos © Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

Sophie Ciszek (AUS)

"I'm doing OK, Dee has me on some pretty intense painkillers but I have had a bad back now for about 10 days so it has been super frustrating for me. We were just doing a sail change and I was bringing a sail back from off the bow and I bent down and just tweaked my back – not really sure what is wrong but we will see. I got Dee to do some dry needling just sort of trying anything we could but the boat is not a good place to have a bad back so we have tried everything we can onboard. I really want to get back onboard for Leg 3 so hopefully I can get fixed and be ready to go and on the crew for the next leg."

Dee Caffari (GBR)

"The tough thing I think firstly was that the weather wasn't exactly what we thought it was going to be, we didn't actually have the forecasted, predicted weather that we thought we would have on this leg, it was a lot lighter which made it a lot more difficult. Strategically and tactically it was a lot different because we had to try and find passing lanes and opportunities, which were even more difficult once we lost touch with the pack and that initial bit was good, but once we lost touch with the last couple of boats we were basically just sailing on our own and the faster way we will learn in this race is to be sailing alongside another boat so we need to find the boat speed, stay with the pack and increase our learning as fast as possible that way."

photo © Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

Sam Davies (GBR)

"The leg was a lot of ups and downs for us, I think we had a really good start, we enjoyed the windy stuff in the southern ocean, and the transitions we went through while coming up the coast, did a lot of learning while sailing alongside the other boats. The impact of our silly navigational mistake doesn't really reflect how well we sailed the boat in terms of boat speed, maneuvers. We learnt a lot from Leg One and from this leg - it is just frustrating that it doesn't show in our results. I think if we hadn't made that mistake we would have been well in front of MAPFRE at the finish and we all know that but its not the same when you don't actually make it, thats the hard part, but sometimes learning things the hard way makes you stronger and this is only Leg 2 with another seven to go and the positive thing is that we are coming out of this stronger and we are going to be even better."

Libby Greenhalgh (GBR)

"I guess I went into this leg thinking it would be a pretty level playing field for everyone, so in some ways a little bit disappointing in that respect. It is a bit tricky, we had from 0 – 40 knots in the space of one hour at the start, and we showed everyone what we can do and sailed out of there (Cape Town) with a bit of a lead and that was fantastic because those conditions are so unpredictable. Then we had a cyclone which seemed to mess up the 'normal' or traditional aspect of the leg which left it more open, and I think despite our mistake we were doing pretty well at sneaking up through all that tricky stuff, but it is definitely about performance and making your boat sail fast and that's what it is all about, but you have to look at how easy is it to gain and lose miles, you can be right next to a boat and then all of a sudden be 50 miles behind.

It is tricky and when you make a decision you still are never sure if it is going to be right even if you look at everything twice, and you just have to deal with the fact that sometimes it's not that you have missed something it is just that something didn't quite work out how you thought it should have. That's the way the weather rolls sadly but there are definitely higher risk and lower risk situations. For us at the moment we are less likely to make risky decisions because it is about getting in touch and staying in touch with the fleet, we are perfectly capable of leading them out we just have to stay in touch now!"

Big Brass Balls
12-14-2014, 10:31 PM
Hang in there girls, there will be better times!

12-22-2014, 10:49 AM

ALICANTE, Spain, December 22 – Team Vestas Wind’s stranded Volvo Ocean 65 boat has been retrieved from a remote reef in the Indian Ocean and on Monday was heading on a round-trip via Mauritius and Malaysia back to Europe.

After three days’ planning, the Volvo Ocean Race boat was gingerly floated clear of the reef in St Brandon on Sunday evening, where it had laid since November 29, and on to a nearby lagoon.

From there it was lifted on to a waiting Maersk Line ship to complete the delicate first stage of an operation, which could yet see the boat being reconstructed.

The shore manager of Team Vestas Wind, Neil Cox, and the boat’s skipper, Chris Nicholson (AUS), oversaw the complicated process of extracting it from the rock where it was trapped.

Nicholson had led his crew to safety just over three weeks ago after the boat ran aground on the reef, 430 kilometres from Mauritius, at around 19 knots (35 kph), in the middle of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Volvo Ocean Race COO Tom Touber explained that the retrieval was achieved thanks to meticulous planning beforehand in which several scenarios were explored with a detailed plan of action for each.

'Preferred plan'

“Our preferred plan – to rescue the boat as intact as possible – worked out,” he said.

He paid tribute to the race’s shipping partners, Maersk Line, and their retrieval company, Svitzer, which had played a large role in the operation. “We have had awesome co-operation,” he said. “They were a dream to work with.”

Touber continued: “For both ourselves and the sponsors of the boat – Vestas and (sub-sponsors) Powerhouse – it was also completely key that we made sure that the environment in this beautiful part of the world was looked after too.”

Team Vestas Wind CEO and Vestas Chief Marketing Officer, Morten Albæk, added his voice to the praise for Maersk and the residents of the island who assisted with the retrieval.

“We have been in contact with the shore manager of Team Vestas Wind, Neil Cox, throughout and were so relieved to hear that the operation to lift the boat intact on to the ship was a complete success thanks to great teamwork involving Maersk, our team, Volvo Ocean Race and the local people.

“For us, the environmental side of this project was a key objective. It’s mission accomplished.

"We'll make an announcement on the outlook regarding a potential return to the 2014-15 race before the start of Leg 3 (January 3).”

'Very careful'

Cox added: “We had to bounce slightly and re-invent the wheel, we just needed to be very careful and just make sure that we finished the job swiftly.”

It was a job which was always going to be fraught with difficulty – but even more so after three days of working around the clock to clear the area and ensure the structural integrity of the boat.

“We've been really lucky that from the minute the incident happened, we've developed a relationship with the guys who actually live on the island here,” he said.

“We've employed the workforce that already exists out here, and without it we couldn’t have done the job, full stop. There's probably a work force of 10 guys.

“They've been standing knee deep in water with waves hitting them all day, they've been carrying oxygen bottles for us to be able to cut the keel off, they've been helping us re-anchor the boat otherwise things would start moving across the reef.”

Cox was cautious about over-promising on next steps – the boat will be checked out more fully in Malaysia before heading to Europe, possibly Italy, for a rebuild.

“A week ago the light at the end of the tunnel was getting smaller and smaller, but what we’ve been able to retrieve off the reef is substantial.”

He added: “I'm not going to say it's great by any means, but it's the first stepping stone, and it's enough to shine a light and to work hard to put things back into place. “

Dutch Rudder
12-22-2014, 11:14 AM
Possibly ready for leg 5?

12-22-2014, 02:54 PM
These images just released via Volvo Ocean Race show much more damage than the earlier ones....

all images © Shane Smart / Volvo Ocean Race



IOR Geezer
12-22-2014, 03:25 PM
If I were an insurance adjuster, I would stamp this "totaled"

Angry Dolphin
12-22-2014, 09:49 PM
That's an understatement. Dont think I would be comfortable sailing around the globe in something that has been so compromised.

12-23-2014, 04:19 PM

24 days after Team Vestas Wind ran aground, the boat was successfully removed from the Cargados Carajos Shoals. Vestas shore manager Neil Cox led the team that performed a complex and difficult operation with the utmost professionalism and diligence.


This week Team Vestas Wind are left fighting the odds: after being shipwrecked in the Indian Ocean, they need to organise their lives. The gods of the sea are back to collect their tribute as some of the sailors cross the equator for the first time. And some tough little invaders are taking control of Team Alvimedica's rig overnight.

12-23-2014, 04:50 PM
Those guys have mad skills!

I wonder if they have time to help install my sink before Christmas...?

12-29-2014, 11:07 AM
gCaptain.com (http://gcaptain.com/salvors-detail-recovery-team-vestas-wind/) have published some of the finite details
of what it took to remove Vesta's Wind off the reef...


Seldom does a salvage operation run as smoothly as that of the Volvo Ocean Racing yacht, “Vestas Wind”.

In a joint venture between Subtech and Svitzer, a team consisting of Neil Scott-Williams, Morgan Castle and Morne Uys of Subtech and Mike Smith and Rob Hare, veteran salvors from Svitzer was mobilized from South Africa under a Bimco Wreckhire to refloat and recover, intact, the remains of the “Vestas Wind” from the Cargados Carajos Shoal, 250nm North of Mauritius. The main objective being to salvage the deck intact to install in a new boat to be built, as that was the one item that would not be ready in time to make re-entry into the race possible.

Through the efforts of major sponsor, Maersk, arrangements were made for a container vessel, the “Jula S” to divert course and rendezvous with the salvage team during a very small window of time, on Sunday afternoon, off the Cargados Carajos Shoal. This gave the salvage team 2,5 days to inspect the vessel, confirm the method of salvage and then execute on the plan to be floating and ready for the “Jula S” or risk missing the opportunity and scuttling any chance of Team Vestas Wind re-entering the race.

In Mauritius, the Subtech/Svitzer team joined forces with Team Vestas Wind in the form of team manager, Neil Cox, “Vestas Wind” Skipper, Chris Nicolson and shore skipper Tom Kif. Local Support in the form of Raphael Fishing, concession holders for the Cargados Carajos Shoals, through general manager Alain Langlois and his very capable righthand man, Julien Merven closed the loop on the most competent team for the job one could possibly wish for.

Due to the extremely remote position of the casualty, a plan combining the salvage experience of Subtech/Svitzer, vessel knowledge and understanding of Team Vestas together with the local knowledge of Raphael Fishing was formulated. The plan catered for almost any eventuality and outcome ranging from refloat and rendezvous with the “Jula S” through to cutting her up on site for disposal in Mauritius and a few others in between.

images © Subtech

The three primary challenges identified were cutting of the keel (650 x 150mm forged tool steel), removing the rigging (due to the instability and risk factor it introduced) and re-establishment of sufficient ballast and buoyancy to refloat in a minimum of 40cm of water. Confirmation of the planned methodology for each process could only be made on day 1, during the first visual inspection. Planning the equipment for this operation offered some challenges, nothing could be left to chance, once we were out there we only had one shot at it. To re-mobilize for any revised solution would almost certainly result in a wreck removal and no chance of re-entry to the race.

Equipment and personnel were mobilized on board the Raphael Fishing charter yacht, “Gryphon,” a 90-foot liveaboard normally used for birding and fly fishing charters to the area.

24 hours after sailing from Port Louis the team awakened to what any water loving tourist would term paradise – crystal clear water, white sand, coral reef, teeming sea life, birds so unaccustomed to man that you could walk right up to them on their nests with their chicks without them taking flight.

On the horizon in the distance you could make out the tilted silhouette of the stranded “Vestas Wind”

Shortly after arrival, the true might of Raphael Fishing became evident when a flotilla of 6m skiffs manned by a strong team of local fishermen, arrived alongside the Gryphon and it was a matter of minutes before the first team consisting of Neil Scott-Williams, Neil Cox, Chris Nicholson and MTD Surveyor, James Hammond were on their way to the casualty to make the tough decisions and sense test weeks of joint deliberation. Close behind them followed the balance of the team and first wave of equipment.

At first inspection it was noted that the entire starboard quarter was missing from the transom through to the forward keel bulkhead but Plan A seemed very feasible and the teams kicked into immediate action with Subtech/Svitzer tackling the keel and re-establishment of watertight integrity of the hull, Team Vestas preparing deck equipment and rigging and Raphael Fishing supporting all activities through their team of able and willing mariners lead by the indomitable Julien Merven.


Very quickly it became apparent that the operation would be very tidally dependent with the teams unable to work over the high tide. Equipment was nevertheless set up and the primary operation of cutting the keel tested. Due to the difficulty in cutting forged tool steel, Subtech/ Svitzer elected to use Broco thermic lances and from the first strike it was apparent that it was the right decision. Using the remainder of the tidal window, all systems were tested and proven functional before the team demobilized for the high tide.

During the next 2 low tides the keel was cut 80%, a 4 point anchor spread established, cross hauls on the mast established to create stability during the cut, buoyancy introduced to the missing starboard quarter and internal bulkheads re-established to allow maximum buoyancy. We were doing well.

On the next high tide, lunch was disturbed by a radio call to say the vessel was moving and that the scaffold work platforms were being threatened. Teams jumped into action and on arrival found the tide to be significantly higher that expected and that the vessel had indeed moved about 3m but that the 4 point mooring was holding strong and true. She was safe but it was clear that on the following low tide we had to refloat and that included completing the keel cut, lowering the mast and rigging and ensuring she was ballasted correctly and watertight, it was going to be a long shift working late into the night, not ideal.

Once again, only exceptional effort and competence of all parties involved ensured that by the turn of the tide, all was ready for the refloat. Now as any salvor knows, when working to beat a tide it seems to come in like lighting, but when waiting for the tide, it seems not to move. With all tasks complete, the waiting started.

We all expected some dramatic banging on the reef as the waves started to roll in, but nothing, just gentle movement. Morgan decided to come up on the stern line and pay out on the bow and all of a sudden we were moving. In the pitch black of a moonless night, all hands were required to navigate the yacht between the exposed coral heads all around. But within a couple of hours we were floating safely in calm water out of the reach of the breaking waves. Perfect trim and shallow draft… more good luck than good judgement but making for a very happy salvage team.

Once again, a 4 point anchor system was established and the yacht secured for the remainder of the night with a caretaker team looking after her till morning.

Morning found her floating beautifully where we left her and team mobilized to recover all remaining equipment from the reef including keel, mast and all equipment used for the salvage.

With the incoming tide, “Vestas Wind was towed out and brought alongside the “Gryphon” out on her anchorage to stand by for the arrival of the “Jula S”

Not having charts for the area, “Jula S” was concerned about the approach but fortunately the captain of the “Gryphon”, Roger Addisson, was an ex Mauritian Pilot of many years experience in Mauritius and the Cargados Carajos Shoal areas and was able to give reassurance regarding the approach and provide the vessel with the charts enabling them to approach within one mile of the “Gryphon” thereby making the job infinitely easier.

Once “Jula S” was at anchor, the “Vestas Wind” was towed across by Gabby, Raphael Fishing’s senior man on the islands, and handed over to the vessel. Here, within the space of an hour, through the coordinated efforts of all parties, the “Vestas Wind” was securely lashed in place and the “Jula S” was able to sail, only 15 minutes later than scheduled.

Not often does an operation run as smoothly as this and one needs to recognize the efforts of all parties mentioned above, meticulous planning and robust negotiation bringing a wide range of contributory skills into play was the main factor but one cannot ignore the one ingredient that so often makes such a big difference to any outcome, Teamwork.

12-29-2014, 03:17 PM
I'm quite curious to know how they pulled the mast from Vestas Wind. It was clearly pulled before they were alongside the Maersk ship.

12-30-2014, 10:54 AM
I'm quite curious to know how they pulled the mast from Vestas Wind. It was clearly pulled before they were alongside the Maersk ship.

Not sure, good question...But Team Alvimedica DID win redress today...so they have that going for them...

Abu Dhabi, UAE, December 30, 2014 - If Leg 2 threw plenty of curveballs at Team Alvimedica, Leg 3 from Abu Dhabi to Sanya in China is unlikely to be any more straightforward, according to skipper Charlie Enright.

Speaking at today’s skippers’ press conference in Abu Dhabi, Enright was anticipating a tough battle through Asian waters to Sanya, especially the 200-mile passage through the notorious Malacca Straits. “It’s definitely a challenging and complicated leg, but we'll take it for what it is,” said the American skipper competing in his first Volvo Ocean Race. “The Malacca Straits have a ton of navigational hazards, but we're lucky to have a great navigator in Will Oxley and we'll certainly rely on him for that part of the world.”

Today’s press conference was a poignant moment as Enright was reacquainted for the first time with fellow race skipper Chris Nicholson, since November 29, the day that Team Vestas Wind ran aground on the Cargados Carajos Shoals, a coral reef 230 nautical miles north east of Mauritius. Team Alvimedica diverted towards Team Vestas to provide assistance to the Danish team for as long as they were required.

Nicholson took the opportunity to thank Team Alvimedica for its support during those terrifying first hours on the reef. “For me personally and also for the rest of the guys, it was good to know there was a rock solid back-up. We were asking them for a lot of information to help us.

It was a big mental boost and we’re very grateful for the assistance they provided.” Team Alvimedica’s navigator, Will Oxley, became a vital information channel between Nicholson and Volvo Ocean Race HQ. Having raced together on board Camper in the last Volvo Ocean Race, there is a special bond between these two Australians. “With Will Oxley there, you knew the question you wanted to pose to him, and you knew the quality of the answer that would come back as well. Very reassuring to have Team Alvimedica there, and we're very grateful.”

Enright said it was very difficult to leave Nicholson and his crew, even after the Vestas skipper and the Volvo Ocean Race HQ had given the all-clear for Team Alvimedica to continue their progress towards Abu Dhabi. “It wasn't easy to get right back into race mode after leaving the reef,” said Enright. “There was a feeling of unfulfilledness. I hadn't even seen Chris until we came into this room five minutes ago. So it was definitely difficult, but we think to ourselves, if it feels hard for us, it's unimaginable how tough it must be for those guys on the reef. We're thankful that those guys are OK. Then you get your first sked (position report), and you realize how many miles behind you are, and you get racing again.”

Today, the International Jury acknowledged the vital role that Team Alvimedica had played in the Team Vestas incident, and awarded Enright’s team points for 4th place on the leg to Abu Dhabi, without affecting the points of the other boats.

“We’re pleased that the International Jury have recognized and acknowledged the fact that we diverted to provide assistance to Team Vestas Wind,” said Enright. “We respect the Jury’s role in seeking to provide as fair an outcome as possible, when taking into account all parties affected."

************************************************** ******************************************

ABU DHABI, December 30 – Team Alvimedica have won their claim for redress after they diverted course to sail to the assistance of the grounded Team Vestas Wind in Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

They originally placed fifth out of the six finishers in the stage from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi but an independent ISAF jury hearing ruled that the time lost assisting Chris Nicholson’s crew on the night of November 29 cost them a position.

They were consequently given a new placing of joint fourth for the leg with MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) by the jury on Tuesday (see updated placings below).

Enright's crew diverted to the remote reef near St Brandon, 430 kilometres from Mauritius, to sail close to the stricken Team Vestas Wind. They gave radio assistance but did not eventually need to take the Danish boat's crew on board after they were picked up by lifeguards.

In the hearing in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Enright argued that his team lost time and later favourable wind conditions for their actions which were widely praised by both the jury, the Race and rival teams.

“We have decided to grant you redress by giving you a point for fourth place without affecting the finishing positions of the other boats,” jury chairman Bernard Bonneau told Team Alvimedica witnesses, skipper Charlie Enright (USA) and navigator Will Oxley (AUS).

“Obviously, we’re very pleased with the ruling,” said Enright. “But we’re only 20 per cent through this race and we’ve got a lot of racing left to do.

“It’s nice to have the point but it’s a small step in a big journey. It doesn’t change the overall standings currently, it doesn’t affect the positions of the other boats in the last leg, but later a point could be fairly big.

“But it’s only going to mean what we want it to mean if we sail well in the other legs.”

The decision means that Team Alvimedica now stand five instead of six points behind the leading trio of Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) and Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA).

After the hearing, the seven skippers of the fleet turned their thoughts to the next leg to Sanya, China, which begins on Saturday (January 3).

Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) will not be contesting the 4,670 nautical mile (nm) leg which is one of the trickiest of the nine-month event when the boats negotiate their way through some of the busiest – and most polluted – waters in the world.

Nicholson told a press conference that his focus was now on returning his crew to the race for the closing legs – if possible.

First, the Volvo Ocean 65 boat, which was retrieved from a reef in the middle of the Indian Ocean last week after it ran aground, will be examined in Malaysia on January 1 to see if it can form the basis of a full rebuild.

“Everybody has recognised and seen what we’ve gone through and that’s given us hope for the future. We’ve got to use that hope to keep the programme moving.

“We’re in the middle of trying to work out if we can come back,” Nicholson said. “The Plan A is to be back and it always has been, that’s the ultimate goal.”

Updated standings: 1) Team Brunel (Netherlands) 4 pts, 2) Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 4, 3) Dongfeng Race Team (China) 4, 4) Team Alvimedica (Turkey/USA) 9, 5) MAPFRE (Spain) 11, 6) Team SCA (Sweden) 12, 7) Team Vestas Wind (Denmark) 12.

01-02-2015, 11:14 AM
ABU DHABI, January 2 – Team SCA led virtually from start to finish to romp to a convincing victory in the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race in Abu Dhabi on Friday after a lack of wind nearly forced a postponement.

The third race in the series began 1hr 40mins behind schedule – another 20 minutes and the action would have been scrapped for the day – because of the missing breeze.

Finally, at 1540 local time/1140 UTC, race officials judged that the breeze had picked up enough for a viable race and the women of Team SCA never looked back.

They took a starboard course early on and by the first mark in the 3.2-nautical mile (nm), two-lap race, had established a 50-metre lead and they continued to build on it from then on with a display of consummate in-port sailing.

In the end, it almost looked easy as the Swedish-backed boat crossed the line, 1min 28secs ahead of second-placed Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED).

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, who won the corresponding race here three years ago, again finished on the podium in third, 43 seconds further behind.

Ian Walker’s crew lead the overall standings by two points from Team Brunel with Team SCA now in third.

The win is doubly sweet for the first women’s crew to contest the Volvo Ocean Race in 12 years.



Skipper Sam Davies (GBR) and her crew had shown with their third place in the Cape Town In-Port Race that they have the pace to compete with their male rivals, but two sixth places in the opening two offshore legs had raised questions in some quarters about their competitiveness.

They certainly answered those in the best possible way with Davies making way for Carolijn Brouwer (NED) on the helm to steer them to this triumph in the trickiest of conditions.

"There's no 'woman of the match', it's the 'women'!" smiled Davies, back on the dock. "We're a team, and we did it together.

"We're really happy, and it's a great way to boost the whole crew's morale before we leave tomorrow for Sanya."

Indeed, this was certainly no one-woman victory, and all 11 crew proved what great strength-in-depth the team has even with their powerful bowman Sophie Ciszek (AUS) missing through a back injury, which needed surgery over Christmas.

As her crew-mates crossed the line, nobody was more excited than the temporarily sidelined Australian.

Ciszek, who watched the race from the deck of the SCA pavilion in the race village, said: "Yeah, it was frustrating because I wasn't out on the boat but, wow, it was the best thing ever because they won the race!


"It can only get better, and we're one step closer. They did really well.

"There's been some big changes. We had a big debrief (after finishing sixth in Leg 2) but it's really good to turn it around and win the in-port."

Abu Dhabi In-Port Race result: 1 Team SCA (Sweden) 1 pt, 2 Team Brunel (Netherlands) 2 pts, 3 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 3 pts, 4 Dongfeng Race Team (China) 4 pts, 5 Team Alvimedica (Turkey/USA) 5 pts, 6 MAPFRE (Spain) 6 pts.

Overall standings in the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Series: 1 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 6 pts, 2 Team Brunel 8, 3 Team SCA 10, 4 Team Alvimedica 12, 5 Dongfeng Race Team 13, 6 MAPFRE 16, 7 Team Vestas Wind 20.

01-02-2015, 11:22 AM

ABU DHABI, January 2 - Team Vestas Wind has announced bold plans to rebuild their badly damaged boat and return to the Volvo Ocean Race by June.

The Danish team’s Volvo Ocean 65 was dramatically grounded on a reef in the middle of the Indian Ocean midway through Leg 2 on November 29.

Their nine-strong crew miraculously avoided serious injury in the 19 knot (35kpm) collision but the boat suffered extensive damage, especially to the stern.

However, it was retrieved from the reef just before Christmas and is currently being assessed in Malaysia by experts. It will then be transported by Race partners Maersk Line to Italy and then taken to Persico in Bergamo for repairing.

Skipper Chris Nicholson (AUS) told a news conference on Friday that the condition of the boat had built confidence that it could yet be fixed and returned to competition before the 12th edition of offshore racing’s toughest event is completed in Gothenburg on June 27.

'Better condition'

“We got the boat off the reef in better condition than we thought possible,” he said. “There are large portions of the deck that can be reused – 70 to 80 per cent – and a lot of other components within the structure. We’ll rebuild our boat just as we rebuild our hopes and dreams.”

The aim is to return the boat to the now six-strong fleet in Lisbon ready for the Leg 8 start on June 7.

It’s been a rollercoaster few weeks for Nicholson, who led his crew to safety through waters on a dark night of November 29-30 and Saturday’s third leg departure from Abu Dhabi to Sanya, China promises to be another low point.

“It’s really going to hit hard tomorrow night, not necessarily on the start gun tomorrow when the boats start (1000 UTC) but tomorrow night. That’s when you always know you’re back in an ocean race – the first night,” he said.

“Until now we’ve been focused on how we can clean up everything on the reef, the best job that we can do getting the boat back and then ultimately relying and trusting on Vestas and Powerhouse to hopefully allow us to get us back in the race.

“Now that that’s done, hopefully mentally we can be in a different phase now to rebuild everything that we’ve hoped for.”

Team Vestas Wind CEO Morten Albæk has told his skipper that the ultimate plan will be not just to return for the eighth leg start from Lisbon to Lorient but give the six other boats in the fleet a run for their money after that.

“That,” he said, “will be real success.”

Audio from the press conference HERE! (http://www.volvooceanrace.com/static/assets/content_v2/media/audios/m33309_2-january-2015---team-vestas-wind-conference-call.mp3)

01-03-2015, 10:03 AM

ABU DHABI, January 3 - Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) bade farewell to their home port for the hazardous Leg 3 on Saturday by leading the fleet out towards their eventual destination of China from under a blanket of fog.

Light winds are forecast for the first few days of a stage which is expected to take about three weeks before the six boats arrive in Sanya, China.

Few had reckoned on a thick fog for the leg departure from Abu Dhabi (1000 UTC) where the boats had spent Christmas and New Year.

On the water shots©Charlie Little/Volvo Ocean Race

Aerial Images ©Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race

It enveloped the course from early morning and stubbornly refused to shift, even under the normal hot midday sun.

Instead the teams had their work cut out even to see the turning marks through the murk before leaving the port where they had enjoyed such a wonderful break.

Azzam finished the in-port course after just under an hour (59min 34secs) as the sun finally began to poke through with Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) on their heels.

For Team Vestas Wind skipper Chris Nicholson (AUS) and his crew there must have been very mixed feelings as they waved their rivals farewell for the 4,642 nautical mile (nm) trip to Sanya.

Nicholson’s boat is now heading for a major repair job culminating in their hoped-for return to the race for the final two legs from Lisbon from June 7 following their grounding during the second leg on a reef in the middle of the Indian Ocean.





“The toughest moment for us will be the first night of the leg,” Nicholson told a news conference on the eve of the departure.

“That’s when you really know you’re in an offshore race. But we have a new target now – to concentrate on repairing our boat to return to the race.”

The third leg promises to be intriguing all the way but particularly during the Malacca Strait which separates the Indonesian island of Sumatra and Malaysia.

At some stages, it narrows to 1.5nm and is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

“It’s the most challenging part of the whole race,” Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) navigator Will Oxley (AUS) said on the eve of the leg.

“I'm pretty happy dealing with big waves and strong winds, but the complexity of dealing with a narrow channel, and a very large amount of shipping is what causes the problems.

“Some 300ft of steel coming at you at 20 knots is always concerning, particularly if you haven't got much control over your speed if there's not much wind.

“Then you have squalls, very violent squalls in the night, and there's lots of fishermen who are not showing navigation lights and have long nets. You can get tangled in the nets, or worse still, run someone over. So it's very stressful."

01-07-2015, 10:45 AM
Leg 3 onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Daryl charges up the hand bearing compass with a
flashlight before making one last sighting on Team Brunel before dark to see if we've gained or lost.
Matt Knighton/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

An amazing day of sailing along the coastlines of countries we may never get a chance to set foot in. There aren’t many corners of the ocean the guys onboard Azzam haven’t sailed in but as we skirted Iran you could sense this was something new.

Splitting the clouds overhead, we watched as a jetliner flew around the Iranian boundary, clearly marking our race imposed Iranian Exclusion Zone in the sky. A reminder of just how close we were to a large military that didn’t take kindly to trespass.
“Quite an unusual feeling because it’s not usually synonymous with offshore sailing: gybing along the Iranian coastline”, reflected Daryl. “Amazing coastline really, sort of nothing like you’d ever seen; really rectangular landscape – pretty impressive.”

As we crossed into Pakistani waters, the silhouetted sails of Brunel could be clearly seen to our right along with dozens of tiny fishing skiffs.
As we gybed away from the coastline, the red sun sank into a purple ocean. The drag race south had now begun and as our speed built, our attention shifted – time to hunt down Dongfeng, now some 20 nm ahead.
Matt Knighton


Free of the Gulf and back into the larger Arabian Sea,the winds build and the fleet spreads out with
more room to breathe. Ryan Houston tries to dim off the lights during his off-watch sleep.
Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race

We are finally free from the unpredictability of the Gulf, a beautiful and interesting place to sail but as cruel and unforgiving as any racecourse you’ll ever see.
It’s a relief to be back in waters that offer a degree of regularity, where local weather patterns and seasonal influences make your immediate future more certain.
In other words: the Arabian Sea (our home for the next days) generates it’s own wind, and the Northeast Monsoon season is the driving force behind most of it.
Knowing that the more consistent wind patterns hold fewer surprises, our faith in the routing and weather files have increased dramatically, which allows the guys making the decisions to do so more comfortably.

Confidence in our decision-making was one of the things we felt needed some refining after Leg 2, so it’s a welcome aid to the ongoing process of improvement—a process we feel took big steps forward re-transiting the Straits of Hormuz and exiting the Gulf.

After some incredible downwind sailing yesterday—several hours at 20-plus knots and the first waves over the deck in a month--we’ve managed to hang on to Brunel and Abu Dhabi in the lighter conditions overnight. It has been a great opportunity to learn from the competition, as our light air speed is another area we’ve highlighted for focus this leg.
We’re all slowly rotating around the high-pressure that’s now moved to the southwest, and the big decision for the first half of this leg grows near. The timing of the gybe back inshore will dictate how soon you get east towards the Indian coast, which will have to do eventually. But the earlier you go the sooner you leave the steady winds of the high, and while the inshore option gains towards

Sri Lanka, getting there will be very difficult.
Knowing all of this, the question for us, at this stage, still remains: do you want to split with the fleet? We still see a lot of value in staying with the pack, regardless of the weather down the track. Either way—the consensus onboard is that it is great to have these options. Options mean you are still in control, and that’s a fun feeling to have!

Amory Ross

Leg 3 onboard Team Brunel. The sun sets on Day 4.
Stefan Coppers/Team Brunel/Volvo Ocean Race

"Slow up, slow up!," shouts Jens Dolmer to Bouwe Bekking. The Dane is on the front deck and saw something in the water. "A piece of wood or something."
While the skipper reacts, the boat is approaching the dark colossus in the water. It moves.

"It's a snake! A black snake," shouts Dolmer. Surprisingly the beast doesn’t tow off but it swims toward our boat. As the yellow boat sails along the snake dives and disappears under the boat.
On a yacht where not much is happening such an event is food for practical jokes. Jens Dolmer squeezes colleagues at the back of the legs. "The snake is on board."
Men who go to the toilet anxiously check the drain hose because something "could come up."
Would this practically be possible?

"Yes, he can enter the boat through the water. And he waits to strike ...until we all sleep."
It stayed like that for about a day. Yesterday everyone forgot about the snake.

Yesterday there was no time for fun: one off-day! Team Brunel had one situation after the other sort out. A fancy word for "with-the-nose-against-the-wind-and-backward-boating". Not a fun situation, but necessary to keep the keel clean of rubbish. Annoying to see the competition literally sail past whilst our boat is drifting.

Jens Dolmer is looking through the endoscope (loyal readers know that that's a submarine-thingy under water). "There is rubbish again, this time to the sail drive," he sighs irritated.
It's time for swimmer of the watch, Louis Balcaen, to check the situation under water. The young Belgian dives overboard and disappears under water. The crew on deck is tensely waiting. There is not a minute to lose!

Then Balcaen’s head appears above the water and he shouts: "A snake, there is a big dark snake to the sail drive. Give me a knife!"
Balcaen is handed a big Rambo knife, and dives. There he has difficulty to wrestle the wrist-thick snake from the saildrive.
Once on deck, the tall tales start again: "I'd have let myself get eaten by the snake and cut myself out to rescue Louis," jokes Capey. Laughter ensues. The loss of three miles is forgotten.
And the coming days there is no one onboard safe from the snake. Because he may just strike again.

Stefan Coppers




Corinna Halloran, Team SCA:

I’m going to let you in on a little fact about leg 3: it is 100% unpredictable, or perhaps the only predictable part of the leg is you’re bound to run into something. Size doesn’t matter; it could be as small as a fishing line, but as we discovered recently even the smallest line can be upsetting.
“In the history of this leg, every boat has arrived with a broken crash pit whether it’s a small or large chip,” Stacey said. “You’re going to run into something, everyone is, so you just have to hope
that when you do it and it doesn’t change the whole race for you.”

That’s like driving down the road at night knowing you’re going to run over at least one squirrel or something larger. We’re hoping we just hit a squirrel rather than a moose as there’s more damage to the small animal than us, and when you’re life is dependent on your vessel you don’t want any major damage done.
Yesterday, as we sailed along the Pakistani coast, we spent the morning chasing Alvimedica and keeping good pace with MAPFRE. Also, according to the computer screen, the usually untouchable Azzam also seemed within grasp.

Suddenly, MAPFRE looked as if they were gybing but we soon realized they were backing down (reversing) to get something off the bottom of the boat. Over the course of the afternoon they proceeded to ‘back down’ at least two more times.
Then our turn came. Spirits were good; we were focused but having a few laughs at the same time. We were cruising along quite quickly, with Alvimedica clearly insight—the big orange and black heart clear as day. We sailed through a line of fishing boats that were fishing over a continental shelf, but we managed to negotiate them correctly and sailed through them without any major hitches.

Shortly after, Annie hopped on the helm, ready to send it. A few minutes into her drive she noticed something went wrong. It was as if there was a legitimate flip of a switch and the boat just got slow—real slow. We were losing quickly on Alvimedica and MAPFRE was coming back up on our stern. Problem was, we couldn’t see anything through the endoscope. All was supposedly good.
The unfortunate thing is, plastic bags and nylon fishing line are often clear so it’s hard to see if they’re stuck on the bottom of the boat. Back and forth the girls went: we were losing ground but do we take the time risk and ‘back down’ like MAPFRE if it looks all clear? Could we just be in bad pressure? Backing down is not ideal, especially if you cannot see anything; however, continuing to not make performance numbers is more detrimental.

Finally, we decided to bite the bullet. We also decided to simultaneously gybe. In doing so we will never know if we did have a bit of garbage on the bottom of the boat or if we were in bad air. However, once we did maneuver, we soon were heading fast down wind and it felt good—MAPFRE was soon well out of sight behind us.
Out here, on Leg 3, life is always changing. You can’t get too comfortable. This is only the beginning so it’s hard to not get too excited by the small gains, and on the flip side: beat yourself up for the small losses. We just have to continue to sail our best against the other boats, stay with the fleet, and do our best to avoid all sizes of squirrels.

Leg 3 onboard Dongfeng Race Team. 20 knots into the night.
Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race

Yesterday morning we passed along the rugged white cliffs of Pakistan’s southern coast. From a distance they looked like a long forgotten city, and as we sailed closer the towering white buildings gave way to bleached bluffs, like those in Normandy, but without any hint of vegetation.

It would be some weeks’ time until we made sight of land in Malaysia, so it came with little surprise when Charles arrived on deck and ordered us to strike sails. Within a half an hour we were flocked to by the local floating merchants and we haggled over the price of fish and nuts and fresh fruit with many gestures and no particular language and traded our spare wares for things that smelled nice and would impress the captain’s wife back home. I wish.
In truth we’d gone into the Pakistani coast -90 degrees off course- to dodge a high pressure system and take advantage of the coastal wind acceleration. “It’s still the same fight we had with Brunel on leg 2,” says Charles.

Brunel was 12 miles behind us at that point, and everyone was aware that all we needed was a half hour tangled in a fishing net to loose our lead, so the crew pushed even harder, ever vigilant of merchants and submerged debris, and our boat ran as fast as the wind -seventeen knots.
Jack steered us through a slalom course of small, wooden fishing boats. They worked in small packs and for hours Eric manned a pair of binoculars, calling out the floating shapes as soon as they appeared. Most of the fishing boats were no longer than 5m long and carried five men apiece and we were greeted by waving silhouettes and dark faces that shrank back to the horizon as fast as they came.

I’d never seen fishing boats with flags like theirs, and I wondered if they’d ever seen a racing yacht like ours. At the time I was shooting video and we sailed by too fast to switch my camera to still mode, but I pulled a frame from the clip so you could get see the scene.
When the sun had set and we were back in open ocean the wind picked up to 20 knots and our boat kept on as fast as the breeze. For the first time down below we could hear the constant rapid of water running over the decks.

This morning we are in the Arabian Sea, between the coasts of Oman and India and surrounded by land on three sides that we can’t see. The wind has died down and Charles tells me it will be a long leg and to conserve as much battery as possible. Charles comes down to his nav station next to my desk every five minutes to check his charts.
His laptop screen is set to the lowest brightness and so is mine. Everything is pleasantly dark except for the light coming through the stern hatch. I ask about Brunel.
“They are 5.7 miles away now, but everybody is going to come back to us because we’ll be the first into the light wind.”
He explains that we are sailing very close into the center of a high-pressure system now, on starboard tack until tonight when the wind will be the lightest and then we gybe.
“The wind is forecasted to decrease all through the day and then we’ll have a long light spot until south of India… only 600 miles from here.”
He laughs when I ask if he has anything that he’d like to say to his Dutch colleage, Bouwe Bekking.
“Yes. Stop following us.”
He gets up from his desk to head back up, stops and turns around.
“Or stay where you are.”

Kevin Escoffier's daily routine brings him to every pointy end on the boat.
Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race

Francisco Vignale, Team Mapfre:

After the visit of the Three Wise Men, we haven’t been the luckiest chaps.
We felt the boat was sailing somewhat slower. Team SCA was a mile behind and little by little they caught up with us and passed us on leeward. It was then that we realised that something was slowing us down. Almost all the guys looked through the endoscope to check the keel, the bulb, the rudders, and spotted absolutely nothing.

We gybed and the boat still felt the same, so we decided to go backwards as to try and get rid of a possible unidentified floating object. After this move we saw there was a white piece of plastic - the same white as the keel, actually - of around one square meter slowing us down.

An hour later, over lunch, Rafa Trujillo was at the helm and after surfing down a wave we felt the boat slowing down again, making us think we were dragging something. After discussing it we decided to once again do the reverse manoeuvre with the bow to the wind and the boom and jib as well as to be able to go backwards.

At that stage we had hit a turtle, got two more plastic pieces hooked on, and had lost several miles upon the fleet. All this happened next to the coast of Pakistan. It’s maybe not one of the nicest views there is, but we enjoy sailing along the coast and knowing somewhere new. Late in the afternoon, as the sun set, we had 17 to 20 knots from the aft on our way to Sri Lanka, and again the boat feels slow. We again try to get rid of it but nothing comes out so Ñeti has to jump in the water.
This time the manoeuvre is much more risky for there’s a man in the water, the sea is slightly wavy, and we have 17 knots wind. You can feel the guys are nervous and Ñeti’s adrenaline is flowing. We put the bow to the wind and we wave him to jump in. The time from when he first touched the water until he climbed out of it felt endless, it probably wasn’t longer than 15 seconds but they were all really worried and ready to lift him back onboard if so needed.

With a line around his waist the crew towed him back by means of the winch and pedestals. He said we were clean and was safe onboard, so we kept sailing. At night the wind picked up to 22 knots and the moon shone full, orangish and beautiful high up in the sky. With no more obstacles and manouvres to make we sailed through the night with the new wind which slowly took us towards the SE. We had coffee and told stories during the watch, sailing as fast as we could.

Rafa, Carlos, Rob, Jean Luc and my own eyes saw another great dawn. We were entering a light wind area, we could expect 8 knots, according to Jean Luc. We’ll have to move back to the bow and we’ll miss the comfort of the bunks. A new day has started for MAPFRE, let’s hope it’s a bit calmer than the last 24 hours.
Come on MAPFRE!

Leg 3 onboard MAPFRE. Xabi Fernandez checks the position report
Francisco Vignale/MAPFRE/Volvo Ocean Race

Leg 3 onboard MAPFRE. Jean Luc Nelias trims the sail
Francisco Vignale/MAPFRE/Volvo Ocean Race

Don Ahrens
01-07-2015, 08:01 PM
I'm starting to get the impression that Dongfeng has found just a tick more speed compared to the other boats. The boats compress and then Dongfeng pulls away, and that's happened a few times in the last few days.

Cleveland Steamer
01-08-2015, 08:53 AM
Je Suis Charlie

01-08-2015, 10:32 AM
Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race

ALICANTE, Spain, January 8 - Dongfeng Race Team were battling on Thursday towards the opportunity to make Volvo Ocean Race history as Charles Caudrelier's (FRA) crew continued to defy the odds at the head of the fleet.

The experienced French skipper’s race squad includes no less than six rookie Chinese sailors and very few observers had considered them among the pre-race favourites at the beginning of the 12th edition.

A pair of narrow runners-up places in the opening two legs has left them tied at the top of the standings with Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), however, on four points apiece.

In the third leg between Abu Dhabi and their home port of Sanya, the Chinese-backed boat is currently showing the rest of the fleet that its flying start is no fluke.

After five days of sailing and 948 nautical miles (nm) of the 4,670nm leg behind them, they protected a narrow lead of 8.5nm over Team Brunel on Thursday (0940 UTC).

There is still a long, long way to go, including the very hazardous Malacca Strait, but victory in Sanya would put Caudrelier’s crew in the 41-year-old race’s record books as the first Chinese boat to win a leg.

Additionally, of course, they would take the outright lead going into the fourth leg to Auckland.

It has been relatively slow going since the fleet – minus the damaged Team Vestas Wind – set sail for Sanya on Saturday from Abu Dhabi.

Their progress has not been assisted by repeated hold-ups caused by ocean garbage, such as plastic bags and other debris, which has needed to be cleared from the keels by the sailors.

Team Brunel even had to remove a snake, which had wrapped itself around the sail drive.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) lie third, some 12nm behind Team Brunel, with Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) sandwiched behind them but ahead of MAPFRE and back markers, Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR).

Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race

The women’s crew, boosted by their win in the Abu Dhabi In-Port Race, are by no means out of the leg, however, and are only 37.9nm behind Dongfeng Race Team.

“Out here, on Leg 3, life is always changing,” reported their onboard reporter Corinna Halloran. “You can’t get too comfortable. This is only the beginning so it’s hard not to get too excited by the small gains, and on the flip slide, beat yourself up for the small losses.

“We just have to continue to sail our best against the other boats and stay with the fleet.”

Meanwhile, the long campaign – 'A Race We Must Win' – for Team Vestas Wind to re-enter the race by the time it leaves Lisbon in June was continuing.

The boat has been thoroughly examined in a port near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and is now being transported on a Maersk Line ship towards Genoa in Italy where it is expected to arrive on January 25.

From there it will be taken to the Persico yard in Bergamo for repairing, with the assistance of Race Sponsor, GAC Pindar.

“Let me be really clear, the boat’s a mess, almost everywhere key structure is broken and this will be not be easy,” said Neil Cox, the team’s shore chief.

The boat was grounded on a reef on St Brandon in the Indian Ocean on November 29, forcing the Danish-backed crew to suspend racing. It was retrieved from the reef just before Christmas and last Friday the team announced officially it planned to return to racing.

Matt Knighton/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

Matt Knighton/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

Learning and gaining
Well, no-one onboard Team SCA will look back on last night and say: “that was a boring night.” Mid-afternoon local time Libby explained that later on in the day we would have to make an instrumental decision with regards to our route to Sri Lanka. Would we head towards the Indian coast and deal with the sea breezes, or would we head further offshore? We would do whatever the fleet did.

Since the minute we headed out of the gates in Abu Dhabi, we’ve been neck and neck with Mapfre. This has been great for two boat racing and learning, however should we follow them? Last leg, they sailed with the leaders for most of the race before taking a massive navigational call and headed East. If Mapfre chose to head towards the Indian coast, would we follow?
Almost to the minute of Libby’s predicted gybing time, Mapfre put in their first gybe. “Everybody up—gybing!” Libby called. Suddenly, we were close enough to ask Libby’s brother, Robert, for a cup of a tea—well, if he drank tea.

After days of fending off, we were finally in a prime position to make a mileage gain and get ahead—to put Mapfre in our dirty air and take off! Obviously, the energy on board was high and excited!
Immediately following our over-taking manoeuvre, Libby said, “This is the road to Sri Lanka. We’ve got about a half hour to our next sked and that will give us a better understanding of where the others are, but I expect everyone’s heading southeast.” In theory we were not expecting a gybe off.
However, it would have been a boring night had the night ended there. If everything had gone according to plan we would have received the ‘sked’ and the other boats would have gybed southeast as Libby anticipated.

However, this is tactical sailing in the Volvo Ocean Race and showing your cards (even to boats within a stone’s throw distance) is not always the best move.
At 1915, when we received the ‘sked,’ we saw no one else had gybed. QUICK! Gybe back! Stay with the fleet! We gybed back to our original course. Then MAPFRE gybed. Then MAPFRE gybed back. Were we about to have a dual mid- Indian Ocean!?
Libby and Sam sat below sussing out what to do next. Everyone else sat on the rail in anticipation, holding and waiting for the next call.
“When pressure starts shifting, it sort of wobbles around,” Sam said. “We have MAPFRE next to us and they actually showed us that we can use these little shifts quite nicely, they had some nicely timed gybes on shifts and made a little gain on us. So we’ve decided to do the same thing.

“Instead of going south on one gybe, we’ve decided to use every single lift to try to make tiny gains on the others. So, hopefully, having MAPFRE pushing us to do that will help us gain on the leaders a little bit. I hope it’s worth it because everyone’s putting a lot of effort in—no one is sleeping. The good thing is it’s dry on deck.”
Sam described the upcoming night as an investment—the team would have to sacrifice sleep for gains. Fingers were all crossed that we would in fact make gains. As if like clock work, Libby’s gybing calls came out: five minutes on Port, ten minutes on Starboard—back and forth we went. Back and forth MAPFRE went.

At 0215 the sun broke over the horizon to reveal a familiar shape: MAPFRE was still in our sights. Alvimedica and Azzam were back on AIS—they were within ten miles of us.
“Yes it was worth it,” Libby said. “I believe had we not had a night like that then we would have suffered a massive loss.”
The team is exhausted: no sleep after nearly 29 gybes through the night, and everyone jacked up on caffeine and mustering the remaining moments of energy to pull them through remaining minutes of their watches.

“It’s a bit like driving on a long road trip,” Stacey explained. “You’ve got to get there, maybe you shouldn’t be driving, but you’re trying to stay awake the whole time.”
Nonetheless, the reward of a successful night overruns exhaustion and we’re all pretty excited the night ended with a positive pay off. Next up on the table is negotiating this area of light wind we’re currently stuck in—all our fingers crossed we’ll be able to run away from it today!

Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race

Bouwe Bekking would be a good Indian. Not because he speaks with painted cheeks on deck. But Team Brunel’s chief is indeed on the warpath. With his boat in second position he openly chases Dongfeng’s scalp. The experienced sailor surprises us every day with ingenious Indian tricks. If I told you all these secrets, I’d end up on the totem pole.
But I can share one with you and remain unpunished, I hope.

It's midnight. The Arabian Sea is pitch black. Only the galaxy and hundreds of stars illuminate the prairie. The battle-ax was excavated. Six miles in front of the Dutch clan, the squad of Dongfeng is fighting for what they are worth. Competitors Azzam and Avimedica are positioned at the same distance behind us. But the dark night unveil the secrets of these boats. The various teams shine with flashlights on the sails and thus give up their secrets.

Bekking - He-Whose-Head-Always-Shines - is at the helm and rubs his hand over his five-day beard. His men are on deck, armed to the teeth and waiting for his commando. "Let's change the A3 for the masthead," he said sternly, and continues: "In the dark! So all the flashlights stay out!"

In absolute silentl the warriors of Team Brunel carry out the bold sail change. Ghosts on the foredeck now execute blindly the acts they have repeated so often. And Dongfeng notices nothing except that the yellow dot on the radar is approaching at high speed now. Within two hours Team Brunel is nibbling 3.5 miles from the backlog and runs the same amount from the attackers. Leaving the competition in the dark is the reason why this has happened.
A stroke of genius from chief Bekking. A large Indian feather headdress would suit him well. But he will refuse to wear it… it’s not aerodynamic enough.

Stefan Coppers/Team Brunel/Volvo Ocean Race

Pascal is biting his nails again.

He looks like a French submarine commander from a Cold War movie. If he could smoke his cigarettes down here, no question, he would.
But I don’t know any French submarine movies, so to me he’s a French Sean Connery, running from a Dutch Jack Ryan.
His eyes are glued to Brunel’s AIS data on the nav chart. They’re still the only boat in range. You’d think we were dodging depth charges.
“Boatspeed. Eleven point four. Bearing. One ninety-eight,” he says into a microphone.
When he’s not biting his nails he buries his face in his weather hand and mutters French obscenities.
All the lights are out down below. The chart screen illuminates his weary face.
“Ten point nine. One eighty eight.”

Pascal’s numbers echo through every square meter of the boat’s black carbon belly, lost on the four sailors soundly asleep on the floor up forward. They rise onto deck to more attentive ears.
It’s 0800 UTC and the air on deck is clean and warm and the moon has just started to rise and it chokes out the Milky Way and dims the expanse of stars overhead that Eric had been driving along to; locking his spreaders onto the most convenient constellation to keep his orientation.
The numbers continue: “Eleven point two. One ninety five.”
Thomas trims the sails as a F1 driver shifts gears.

When Pascal’s numbers reach the two they can compare their own speed and bearing to the flickering masthead light on the horizon. Know your enemy.
The scene on deck is a far cry from Pascal’s moonless war desk. Imagine the wide-open chases from Master and Commander, and the Dutch Archeron has closed the gap down to two nautical miles.
That’s why Pascal is biting his nails.

Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race

Charles is sleeping in the front of the boat on a pile of crew bags until Pascal rouses him and the two walk back to the nav station where they compare their data with Brunel’s.
“Tonight is an important decision,” explains Charles.
“It’s maybe the only gybe left on this leg and you have to choose a good position because then you have 600 to 1000 miles to pass the India coast. So where you gybe is going to be your position compared to the fleet for the next four days.”
The two rise from their desk and walk up on deck together.

“If you gybe too early,” he continues, “it’s a big mess because you are going to be in light wind. If you gybe too late you lose a lot of distance because right now we’re sailing 90 degrees of the coast. So it’s difficult to choose and it’s a key point of the leg.”
Charles takes the helm from Eric and tells Pascal to wake the crew for a gybe.
“If we do a good gybe tonight and are fast I think we’ll be able to keep the lead for the next four days so it’s very important.”
The young sailors clamour on deck and everyone is at their station and rubbing tired eyes in less than 60 seconds. There are no red flashing lights or battle station calls, but it feels the same nonetheless.

We gybe and the crew off watch returns to their bunks.
When the sun rises, Kevin is at the helm and Brunel is eight miles behind us.
‘The Dutch sailors behind us’ are mentioned and Kevin breaks his driver’s trance.
“Bahhwah? They are Dutch?”
“You didn’t know?” I ask. “I can’t believe that.”

I ask Tomas and he replies matter of factly: “Well… I knew they were Dutch, but I never knew Bouwe was, so…. No.”
Kevin continues.
“Well, Bouwe, I thought he could be American, sure, but Dutch? I had no idea.”
They’re baffled.
So much for know your enemy, but I suppose that means our Dutch nemesis would make a fitting Jack Ryan after all.

Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race


Charlie Tuna
01-09-2015, 09:54 AM
Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race

The hostage situation in Paris is over. The terrorists got their wish to be martyrs.

01-09-2015, 11:12 AM

TV-host Rokas Milevičius interviews Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking about this unpredictable leg which is full of obstacles.

Dutch Rudder
01-09-2015, 11:47 AM

TV-host Rokas Milevičius interviews Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking about this unpredictable leg which is full of obstacles.

Bouwe tells it like its is.

01-19-2015, 01:02 PM

"Jumping up on deck at dusk last night, to our left was the lush mountainous coastline of Indonesia and to our right Brunel and Alvimedica were small silhouettes, outlined by the setting sun. The red of MAPFRE’s main was getting brighter in front of us as we all set up to tack around the tip of Sumatra.

You could see the tidal currents moving between the Bay of Bengal and the Malacca Straight in the water as if they were drawn on a map. All 9 of us were on deck as an awesome tacking duel began to unfold through the black lumps of islands dotting the horizon.

Playing the currents, it was extremely difficult timing tacks along the coast, even going 30 seconds too late sometimes meant you’d be headed by 10 degrees and loose mileage to the boats in front and behind. After several hours we finally found ourselves in a “Mexican Standoff” with Brunel and MAPFRE – that classic scene from the movies where everyone is pointing a gun at everyone else, waiting for someone to flinch first.

All of us had been on a tack north east, waiting to see who would turn down the Strait first; the thought being that the rest of the boats would simply tack under them and gain.

We waited nervously.

We desperately wanted to start sailing down the course to maximize the predicted wind angles but would we have to go first? Finally we got a break. Up on deck we saw Brunel stuck under a cloud sailing at 2.2 knots and took advantage of the moment – we tacked first. They tried as hard as they could but didn’t have the speed to keep up.

The range between us opened rapidly. The real win will be in a few days: if we can exit the Straits with the same luck we entered them with."

Matt Knighton OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing


"It seems at least a little ironic that our first day in the AIS-hectic Malacca Strait is the first day of this leg we break from convention and consciously sever our own AIS dependencies; we’ve split with the fleet and can no longer see the competition on the computer. It is as much a belief in the early game plan as it is a bit of good fortune from a beneficial wind shift last night that was too good to pass up.

For the time being we’re enjoying the risks of sailing alone. The potential gains are exciting, but equally as rewarding is the concept of pushing hard in a direction of your choice, of having the confidence to “break trail.”


Of trusting your boatspeed and of being rewarded - even if only for a few skeds — for the extra work everyone’s been putting in. It’s energizing and makes the trip south to Singapore, rife with obstacles and hurdles, less chore and more opportunity. We sense we’re fast upwind and if we can get to Singapore near the front of the fleet, in the words of Alberto—the feelings are good—for the remaining leg north to Sanya.

There is very little wind in the middle of the Strait and we’ll probably stick to the sides where more predictable sea and land breezes reside. All bets are off at night though as thunderstorms intrude on the instability.

The fleet could stay separated to opposite coasts at which point progress becomes tough to judge until Singapore, or we may well end up on top of each other again—as per the usual. If there’s one thing this race has shown thus far it’s that navigators are happier sailing as a pack, and as much as we’re willingly parting with that tradition, the others may be focused on minimizing our new leverage.

Suddenly the six hours between skeds feels like a very long time. Exciting!"

Amory Ross OBR, Team Alvimedica


"A fan

You know that feeling? You just came back from the beach. Your face is salty and lobster-like red. You're overheated and you only want one thing: an ice-cold shower.

That's how the Team Brunel men feel as they head below deck at the end of their watch everyday.

They’re often completely soaked from dragging sail bags around and changing sails. Unfortunately, the cold shower onboard Team Brunel is only made of two moist baby wipes and some talcum powder to keep their back regions dry (read: clammy balls, sticky butt crack). They head for bed, often still damp, where a tiny fan offers a little coolness in the scorching heat. More on that later.

After Singapore, this leg will take us past Malaysia via Vietnam to China. And the wind we've been missing all of last week will catch up with us with a vengeance from Singapore on.

"It will vary somewhat between lots of wind and an awful lot of wind," says navigator Andrew Cape.

"So how much chance do we have of sailing downwind?" asks Spaniard Pablo Arrarte, though he knows better.

"No chance," Andrew Cape replies.

So we’re going to be boxing up against the waves, close to the wind for several days.

That's when our canting keel will be unmissable. The heavy bulb gives the necessary counterweight on the higher side (windward). On the other hand, the canting mechanism has a motor, which in turn needs diesel. And diesel may become a scarce commodity now that the leg is taking much longer than planned. The first measures to save diesel have already been taken.

"Switch off your fan mate," Bouwe Bekking tells me as I sit, hot and sweaty, behind my laptop. The sweat is running off my forehead.

"You want to win, don't you?"

I nod, and with a single click, the media desk is transformed into a sauna. Click. Click. A few seconds later, I hear the click all through the boat.

China is such a bloody long way away."

Stefan Coppers OBR, Team Brunel


“Eyes fixed on the adventure ahead”

It’s great to be sailing between the islands here, like Sumatra.

I never imagined I’d ever sail here, I only ever saw this place in epic surfing videos. It’s an enormous satisfaction to see the scenery here and actually realizing that this place exists for real, a place so far I had only seen on TV! We got here without any major issues and got quite close to the shore so as to be able to make the most out of the wind and to make the right tacks. We spent around 15 hours on deck tacking and making strategical decisions, which left us in a good spot as to head south east through the waters between Indonesia and Malaysia.

We decided to head north at the entrance of the Strait for we saw there was more wind in that area. The fleet stuck together and tacked one after the other. Alvimedica was the only boat that dared to make a move and got in the channel ahead of us. Let’s hope it doesn’t work as they expect for that could help them pass us.

The sea traffic isn’t as heavy as it’ll be in the near future. We see cargo far away, but nothing we need to worry about, or which we need to be over attentive to. There’s always someone at the navigation desk looking at the AIS and watchfully looking at any ship which could get in our way.

Right now we are broad reaching on our J1 and doing 15 knots, heading towards the exclusion zone.

“A podium finish in this leg would be really important. We won’t let our position slip away and keep our eyes on Dongfeng,” says Xabi Fernández.

A good breeze, a bit of spray, a cup of coffee every once in a while, chit-chat about what we’ll do when we get to China, and the food we’ll eat there.

From somewhere I only dared to dream about some time ago, we greet you all and wish you a great week!

If you think it’s going to be hard, just pay attention to ours. The leg will be decided here, and in front of us lays quite a busy exclusion zone with lots of dangers.

¡¡¡Vamos el MAPFRE!!!

Francisco Vignale OBR, MAPFRE


Sounds like…

I think it’s time to give in and accept the fact that life from here on out is not going to be easy. Gone are the days of easy walking on board. Gone are the days of eating and knowing you’re not going to spill your porridge all over you. Gone are the days of uninterrupted rest.

Those painfully boring days of no wind may soon look back in fondness as life gets uncomfortable.

“I forgot how much I hate living at 30 degrees,” Libby said.


Now we are into the days of climbing across the boat. We are into the days of life at an angle—with waves. Sometimes the waves don’t feel so heinous, other times you want to shout at the swell and say ‘Hey! We’re trying to live here! Calm down!’

“The swell is coming from the same direction as the wind,” Sam explained this morning. “When the wind is say 45 degrees off our bow, so are the waves. It feels ok when we’re going in a straight line, but when we are lifted into the wind, and the direction of waves comes more on our nose, that’s when things start crashing.”


The wind is constantly shifting too making things way more challenging for the people working on deck. It’s one thing when the girls are able to set the trim and sail to it—like setting cruise control in your car. When you engage cruise control it’s great for straight line driving, but you cannot really have cruise control on a winding, switch-back road as you need to break when you go around bends.

That is kind of what’s happening out here at the moment. The wind shifts and we need to change our trim mode, in the same way you might need to shift gears as you take a bend. This then has an effect down below because the noise level has gone from zero to off the charts.

I’ve now decided that nails on a chalk board would be more of a pleasant sound than the noise of a tight, over used dry main sheet easing on winch. The noise is not just a normal noise, instead I’m convinced it has a life of its own, as it literally crawls into your ear and shakes itself in a way that only seems humanly possible. Yes, that’s right, the noise has taken on human characteristics and has the ability to crawl!

The noise manages to find the most sensitive area on your eardrum and hit the drum until you shout in pain. Over and over and over again, as if your eardrum was more like a symbol for smashing. It’s almost like when you accidentally turn up the music in your earphones to max level and Metallica comes on—almost but worse.

You cover your ears, resisting every urge to roll around on the floor in agony; you wait 30 seconds, thinking you’re free and clear and EERRGGGKKKKK again the sheet is eased, again you’re nearly on the floor. Rumor on the streets is this is how you achieve grey hairs and go deaf per result of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The thing is though it is no time to fight the noise and the waves. In fact, it’s actually the time to embrace it as this is only the beginning of upwind sailing.

Corinna Halloran OBR, Team SCA

More From The Boats (http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/fromtheboats.html)


Tracker (http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/virtualeye.html)


01-20-2015, 03:06 PM

This week, the sailors get time to explore the attractions outside of Abu Dhabi city, there are crew changes afoot onboard some of the boats, and it’s time to leave shore and set sail at the start of leg 3 and the long trip to Sanya.

01-22-2015, 10:43 AM


ALICANTE, Spain, January 22 – Dongfeng Race Team suffered a major scare in their pursuit of Leg 3 victory in the Volvo Ocean Race on Thursday when a tack line on a key sail snapped.

The incident happened with the leading Chinese boat (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) still 945 nautical miles from the leg finish in their home port of Sanya as the team made their way through the South China Sea having survived the hazardous Malacca Strait over the previous five days.

The tack line of the J1, used for upwind sailing, broke suddenly and sent the 132m² sail shooting up the forestay.

Onboard handyman Kevin Escoffier (FRA) and Eric Péron (FRA) jumped on the problem immediately and it took them just over 30 minutes to set up a temporary replacement strop and hoist the J1 back up.

Escoffier is now aiming to make a full replacement onboard, with exact specifications of the strop being emailed from the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard team.

Victory in Sanya would give skipper Charles Caudrelier and his men two big reasons to celebrate: they become the first Chinese-backed team to win a leg in the 41-year-old race and would also take the outright lead in the nine-month event after three of the nine stages.

For both, Caudrelier and team chief Bruno Dubois (BEL) the episode has been a very timely wake-up call with such a big landmark victory apparently within their grasp with the rest of the fleet between 39.9nm and 124.4nm behind.

“I hate having problems on the boat - but in a way I’m happy this might have woken everyone up to the fact that we are a very long way from winning this leg still,” said Dubois.

Caudrelier added: "It was a good reminder to us onboard if we needed one, and I hope for those on land following, that we have a very long and treacherous way still to go on this leg.

“Of course we are happy to have a healthy lead, but that lead can disappear very easily through mechanical failure like this and lots of other kinds of problems.”

Dongfeng were 39.9nm clear of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) with the next three –Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) – placed within 2nm of each other, between 42nm and 43.4nm behind the Chinese boat.

Fastest boat in the fleet, however, is sixth-placed Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), which made up some 14nm in 22 knots of wind over the three hours leading to the latest position report at 0955 UTC. They are 124.4nm behind Dongfeng.

The leaders are expected to arrive in Sanya, Hainan Island on the southernmost tip of China, sometime on Tuesday (January 27) in a thrilling climax to the 4,670nm leg from Abu Dhabi.

Carl Spackler
01-22-2015, 05:26 PM
Abu Dhabi 1st to Abu Dhabi, Dongfeng 1st to Sanya...hmmm

Buzz Light Beer
01-23-2015, 09:24 AM
I am very sad to announce that I have been notified that I will not continue with Team Vestas Wind. I respect Chris Nicholson’s decision and wish the team the very, very best of luck with the hard work ahead of them in the Volvo Ocean Race

I would have very much wanted wanted to help the team get back in the race again and contribute to their success in the last parts of the race.
On a personal note I am looking forward to the new sailing challenges that are coming up for me in the months ahead and want to keep sharing the passion that I have for this great sport with you all.

Someone recently told me: "Life is not about how many breaths you take, but about the moments that take your breath away.” I am looking forward to the new breathless moments to come. Ocean racing tends to offer many of them.

Thank you all very much for your support,


IOR Geezer
01-23-2015, 10:12 AM
Somehow you could see that coming.

01-25-2015, 05:59 PM

Vietnamese diary

17:18: "It is a legendary evening" says Pablo Arrarte. The sky turns orange now the sun goes down in the South China Sea. The Dutch team is heading in convoy with the other boats along the Vietnamese shore, still neck-and-neck. "The boys are going to sweat," Andrew Cape says as he points to his monitor. Along the coast of the Asian country is a narrow strip with no flow, so it pays for the race teams to cross on it. An additional disadvantage: it's swarming with fishing boats: Gerd Jan Poortman: "We are still 5th so we have nothing to lose."

19:06: Holy Shit what a lot of lights! Fish should be a lucrative business in Vietnam because anything that can float has now gone into the dark water. 1000's of lights forming a web of fishing nets. There is no turning back. "We have found a pattern," says Rokas: "There is always a kind of mother ship, a big white light. Surrounded with small red flashing lights. Those are the buoys where the nets are strung between. Think ... "With 12 knots the Dutch team hurtles forward, narrowly missing several lights. Everywhere the sound of 2 old cylinder engines .... Hum Hum-Hum ... It turns out that not all boats in Vietnam come with navigation lights. Suddenly there appears just before the boat a flashlight on our sail. A kind of uncontrolled distress. In any case there is someone we clearly do not want to be run over by a 65-foot racing yacht. Bekking shall respond to the request and exhorts his men to crash tack, 5 meters from the poor fisherman.

22:54 "There is no place on my body that does not ache," says Rokas Milevicius. The Lithuanian has spent the last hours almost pulling the grinder out of the deck. The evasive action of the first 10 numbers-tacking maneuvers. Tack-Tack. Short strokes! The yachts slalom on. The men of Bekking smell blood! Two miles back shine the lights of MAPFRE and Avimedica who are working on the same battlefield. Milevicius also stacks as if his life depended on it. Drenched in sweat, he drags a giant sail bag to windward. Inside the cabin, Balcaen and Poortman do the same with the rig bags. When everything is finally on the high side, Poortman falls into his bunk, fully clothed ... He closes his eyes ... for 20 seconds: then he hears Jens Dolmer roar: "GET READY FOR TACK" !! So loud that the surrounding fishermen fear thunder from their. Poortman jumps up, dazed.

4:12: For the first time the boats start longer strokes. "I think we have tacked 30 times," Arrarte says wearily. While the men of the Dutch team fought like lions, booty is rather thin. Balcaen: "We still have two days. Hopefully we get more "last chances". Bekking remaining calm, as always. "I've had a race-shave and put on my wedding ring already. Everything is always good boys. "

Stefan Coppers OBR, Team Brunel

Matt Knighton/Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing/Volvo Ocean Race

The amount of fishing activity last night off the coast of Vietnam made it feel as if we were surrounded by a bright white halo on the horizon.

Even before the start of this leg we had the heard horror stories of sailing along the Vietnamese shore. A combination of tacks thrown in every 30 minutes with unlit obstacles, shallow shoals, and fishing fleets made it a less than ideal for a yacht race.

Most of the guys onboard had experienced it several times before and 48 hours ago Ian was describing last night as, “possibly the single hardest night of the race.”

Sailing towards the shore at dusk before our first tack we were in a close but defendable lead in front of Alvimedica, Brunel, and MAPFRE. However were well aware that any maneuver – such as having to free a fishing net from our bulb – would effectively wipe away any advantage we had.

Our first few tacks went smoothly. As the light dimmed in the sky the white lights of the fishing boats lit up. Hundreds of small dots on the water invisible during the day now surrounded us offshore. Fortunately we were sailing closer to the coast.

A shift in the wind and we all of a sudden were headed – stuck in a bay where the wind was dying and with Alvimedica closing to 4 nm away we knew we needed to get offshore fast. Running between trips to the nav station and the helm Ian insisted that even if we had to sail through the fishing fleet and sail further we’d manage better outside the other teams.

The bright lights of squid boats passed within a boat length as we did 11 kts speeding past them. Fishermen were lighting up our sails with their searchlights to see what the massive silhouette was that was sailing through their backyard.

13 tacks later dawn is breaking and as it is the amount of clarity on the water is refreshing. Our tactical gamble offshore paid off: we’re upwind of the others and laying down the miles towards Sanya.

Matt Knighton OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race

Time to relax? In a sense yes, after the hectic 24 hours dodging thousands of fishings and their nets, the heart rates have come down considerably.

But no time to relax at all, as the battle will intensify regarding the podium places with just under 400 miles to the finish...........and it is going to get tricky again.

We have been struggling a bit with our speed sailing since we left Singapore. No obvious reasons, besides the keel malfunction we had and the enormous amount of sticky, heavy oil visibly covering the front part of our hull.

The yellow part on the bow section is looking more black than yellow. We have been trying to get rid of it but we failed as we don't have those kind of cleaning products onboard. We just can't reach our numbers and of course that is annoying, especially when you know the guys work their butts off to keep the boat moving as fast as we can.

Maybe once we arrive in Sanya and lift the boat out of the water we can get the answer. But even though we lost out, the mood is good and we still believe we can pull the rabbit out of the hat.

As for Capey's brain - smoke is nearly coming out of his ears, he is looking into I don't know how many options for routes. But one thing's for sure, it's not the time to put all our eggs in one basket.

Gambling at this stage would be close to suicide. And 360 miles doesn't sound like a long way, but we know it will be tricky conditions. It is a shame that we have to sail with the AIS (our position is sent out to all boats) on, as the boats ahead can see every move we make and can respond to what we do. But lets hope we can use it this time to our advantage, as we maybe can see the opposition parking up and then buffalo girl around them :-)



Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race

In O.B.R. tradition, there’s only one way to start this blog: to quote the late, great Robin Williams:


What a way to start the day: a massive, blood red sun creeping out of the mist on the sea’s horizon, golden colored sands of Vietnam together with blues, greens, and purple of the landscape in early dawn’s light, and colorful toy-like fishing boats dotted in the sea. It was a moment that honestly took your breath away.

“I didn’t imagine the coast to be like this,” Dee said. “I thought it would be all jungles, like you see in the movies.”

For all of us on Leg 3, Vietnam meant a tack off—today we’ll be completing over twenty short tacks up the Vietnamese coast to avoid a wicked offshore current. Interestingly enough, approaching Vietnam has had an interesting effect on everyone, an effect that we didn’t have with India, Sumatra, Malaysia, nor Singapore; that is: the Hollywood effect.

For the last few days we’ve been quoting movies such as Apocalypse Now, Forrest Gump, and the ever appropriately quotable: Good Morning Vietnam. Movies focused around the main character’s involvement with the late 1960s Vietnam War.

But when you think about it a little further and deeper, movies such as Forest Gump and Good Morning Vietnam were not just about war—they were first and foremost movies about friendship; Friendship in unusual places and friendship in conflict.

Now by no means is Team SCA involved in a comparable conflict, however we are involved with a race—a fight of sorts—to give it our all in a potentially very hazardous working environment. And it is in this environment friendships are growing. The race is our glue.

Out here, in the middle of the ocean, we have all become friends—we have become a team. Brought together by common fight: the Volvo Ocean Race.

To bring the conversation back to our current location, Vietnam, we seem to be making quite a few friends with the local fishermen. The conditions have us sailing quite close to them (a shoe’s throwing distance in some cases), and we are met with warm smiles, hoots and hollers, and waves.

We are met with a tremendous amount of encouragement—to keep fighting in a race where we still have 430 miles to sail. Again, it is that common respect and understanding that we are all people of the sea—that out here, we are all friends.

Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race

I’m unable to find a prior experience to compare last night’s events with. It was hours of pure chaos under the moonlight shadow of Vietnam, and no doubt something that in the realm of unique experiences will always live near the top.

With the actual coast and its many lights to one side and an armada of fishing boats and nets to the other, it was nearly impossible to distinguish between fleet and shore were it not for the elevation differences in the lights on land.

There were lights everywhere, hundreds of little craft and even unlit, overturned saucers with an oarsmen and a headlamp, drifting through the darkness. We could just have easily run someone over as we could have hooked a net, anchor, or both. The margin for error was ridiculously small.

Making things worse was the lack of consistency; there was no rhyme or reason to any of it. Blinking lights, solid lights, white, yellow, blue, red—it made no sense and consequently turned the overnight transit to total guesswork and as Charlie said, “the most intense night of sailing in my life.” Our midnight passage through Singapore Strait and the busiest shipping port in the world still just a few nights old, that says a lot about the last week out here.

You can see it in the guys, too. Once offshore and back into a watch system after sunrise, the boat went eerily quiet. There was no talking down below, only sleep. Tired from another all-nighter but wanting to get an early start to the editing, I sat down at my media desk with a coffee only to wake up just before I needed to cook lunch, hunched over the keyboard.

It has been an exhausting end to this leg, an exhausting leg in general, and the 300 miles that now stand between Sanya and us may prove most exhausting of it all. Second through fifth place are back in sight of each other and with only a few short days of straight line sailing left you can be sure nobody will give up an inch, certainly not us!

Amory Ross OBR, Team Alvimedica

Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race

Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race

Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race

It’s Sunday morning and it feels like there should be toilet paper streaming from the spreaders and sailors passed out in the front yard – err… deck- with obscenities scrawled across their faces.

It feels like our friend’s mom should be pulling into the driveway any minute to unleash a spell of terror at the sight of her soiled new couch. It feels like the morning after, but from what?

A night of tacking… I know… I know… “Something like 13,” says Charles. A far cry from the 30 we were expecting, but 13 tacks spanned across every hour of the night were more than enough.

I had it easy compared to the sailors when it came to stacking: one backpack, one large Pelican case, a duffle bag, a laptop case, all the crap on my desk, my desk chair, the kitchen pot and all the kitchen accouterments.

They had to move every single bag and sail, thousands of pounds of stuff and then go up on deck and maneuver the boat. Over and over. “I’m not tired,” says Kit who is hunched over the coffee grinder on deck. “I just feel soft, like I have no power.”

Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race

Getting to the bow to make sure my two largest packs – one of which holds my beloved drone - weren’t violently thrown across the boat each time was a dangerous game of high stakes Frogger.

The animals start in the main cabin, slinging tool bags from the high side to the low –down a 30-degree grade- with a sobering lack of regard.

Through this I’d dash across the main cabin into the bow, and by the time I’d get my two bags across one of the beasts had already made their way forward and I’d have to wait, pinned by their cross fire, and watch in awe and terror as all of the personal bags were cannoned to the leeward side so hard I thought the canvas would explode.

But it’s over now and we’re heading offshore away from the Vietnamese coast towards what Charles hopes will be the last tack before we arrive in Sanya.

"The goal is to go east to avoid the shadow on the west part of the course,” explains Charles. I ask how he’s feeling. “I am a bit stressed. This is the last tack and it’s not an easy situation, even if we have an advance.”

“It will be very good when we have tacked and I can see that our friends are still behind us.”

Suddenly we hear a car creeping up the gravel driveway. Oh shit! So we run to the back door, leap over young Jack, who is cradling the bin in a sweet sleeping embrace, and sprint out through the back yard. Almost home safe.

Sam Greenfield OBR, Dongfeng Race Team

Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race

Buzz Light Beer
01-26-2015, 09:58 AM
I don't want to tell Knut how to read a global chart or anything, but does he know there is a more direct route around the globe?

01-26-2015, 04:42 PM

Sailing history as Chinese boat Dongfeng Race Team takes the Leg 3 victory, arriving first into Sanya, China! Congratulations!!

Photo © Christophe Favreau

ANYA, China, January 27 – Dongfeng Race Team claimed a key landmark in the 41-year history of the Volvo Ocean Race on Tuesday when they emphatically won Leg 3 in their home port of Sanya to take the overall lead with six stages to go.

No Chinese team has won a leg in the race before despite two previous entries – Green Dragon in 2008-09 and Team Sanya in 2011-12 – but Charles Caudrelier’s (FRA) put that right in style.

“It’s the most stressful leg I’ve ever done in my life,” said a mightily relieved Caudrelier, minutes after crossing the line. “But the result is fantastic!”

After finishing narrow runners-up to Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) respectively in Legs 1 and 2, Dongfeng took a firm grip of the 4,670-nautical mile stage from Abu Dhabi to China, virtually from the start on January 3.

At one stage, entering the treacherous Malacca Strait, they stretched their advantage over the fleet to more than 106nm but the fleet never gave up their chase and as they skirted along the wind-shielded Vietnamese coast, Caudrelier found his team’s lead cut to under 10nm.

But the 40-year-old and his crew of experienced French sailors mixed with rookie Chinese Cheng Ying Kit (‘Kit’) and Liu Xue (‘Black’) stuck grimly to their game plan and slowly but surely stretched their lead once more as they entered the final day’s sailing.

Tension up

An infuriating – for Caudrelier and his crew – lack of wind in the South China Sea kept the tension up into the small hours of Tuesday morning and once more the fleet led by Walker’s Azzam closed the gap a little but Dongfeng had come too far for too long to relinquish their advantage now.

At just past 0731 local time (2331 UTC), they crossed the finish on a glorious Sanya morning just after daybreak, some 45nm clear of second-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR).

Walker went on to guide Azzam to a comfortable runners-up spot to follow their third place in Abu Dhabi from Leg 2 and pronounced himself very satisfied with a performance which keeps his team firmly on track, only one point adrift of the new leaders.

“We learned an awful lot in this leg,” he told a news conference. “And that will serve us well in the future of the race.”

Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) also had plenty of positives to pull from their first podium place in a leg after they had started their entire campaign with victory in the Alicante in-port race.

The Rhode Islander concedes his young crew are still on a learning curve, especially compared with old hands like Walker and Bekking, who boast crews that have sailed many, many more miles together.

“We simply gelled a lot better on this leg,” he told reporters, before explaining: “We’re developing our relationships and finding efficiencies and starting to click more and more as we go along.”

Little consolation

For Bekking there was no such consolation to find after being pipped by MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández) into fifth spot; not the follow-up he was looking for after winning the previous leg into Abu Dhabi in such fine style.

Asked by a local reporter to describe his performance in three words, he could only find two that did the job adequately: “Bloody hopeless.”

Fernández, in contrast, had every reason to be quietly satisfied with his job as stand-in for Iker Martínez who skipped the leg to concentrate on pre-Rio Olympic training in Miami, but will be back at the helm for the next stage to Auckland from February 8.

“We sailed the boat better and better and I hope we’re going to make more opportunities (to get on the podium in a leg) in the future,” he said.

Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) will bring the eventful leg to a conclusion later on Tuesday.

For the British skipper and her crew, it has been a stage full of promise and rising impatience to build on the daily experience they are gaining in future legs.

“We know that we still need to improve, but we feel that even in this second half of the leg we have moved forward and we are confident that we can keep gaining on our performance in Leg 4," she said in a message to her team from the boat.

"There is a sense of impatience to go out there again and see what we can do.”

01-27-2015, 03:51 PM
A slew of video's released from the Volvo Ocean Race as leg 3 concludes in Sanya!


This week, the fleet is battling their way out of the Arabian sea heading towards Sri Lanka waters,
but the lack of winds is not making things easy.
Meanwhile Team Vestas Wind are finally starting their rescue mission, if they can save the boat,
there is a chance they can re-enter the race!…


Leg 3, day 23. Dongfeng Race Team crossed the finish line in Sanya in first position.
The perfect scenario for a Chinese team to win their first Volvo Ocean Race leg ever.


A glimpse at the highlights and celebrations as Team SCA ended their Leg 3 journey after 24
days at sea, having set out from Abu Dhabi. The team were met by enthusiastic crowds!.


The highlights as Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing,Team Alvimedica, MAPFRE and Team Brunel arrives
to Sanya in 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th positions, finishing off their Leg 3 adventure.
The battle for 4th was an extremely close fight, all they to the finish!...


Leg 3 to Sanya. Day 23. We're in the final hours of Leg 3 and the intensity onboard is on the rise.
At this stage, the boats need every bit of breeze they can get.

02-04-2015, 10:51 AM

This week, the fleet is dealing with a serious lack of wind, a real problem when racing around the world.
We meet the people behind the storytelling and follow the onboard reporters at work.
We also join young sailor Nicolai Sehested back at home as he reflects on his team’s crash.
Meanwhile, Team Vestas Wind shore crew are finally getting the boat off the reef, grasping their last chance to re-enter the race….

Tonapah Low
02-04-2015, 05:12 PM
Hopefully after leaving Sanya, the fleets will find wind. I think I read somewhere that they have averaged under 12 knots around the race track thus far.

02-05-2015, 04:07 PM


SANYA, China, February 5 – Volvo Ocean Race’s six-strong fleet heads out towards Auckland from Sanya for Leg 4 on Sunday with some big calls to make in the latest instalment of a marathon offshore contest which could hardly be more finely poised.

Charles Caudrelier’s (FRA) Dongfeng Race Team have their noses in front by a single point after the stage from Abu Dhabi to Sanya, but know that they could so easily follow the example of Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), who could only muster fifth place on the leg to China after winning the previous one.

The Chinese team, which became the first from the world’s most populous nation to win a leg in the 41-year-old race last month, have yet to announce their crew plans for the 5,264-nautical mile trip to Auckland, New Zealand.

These will be unveiled on Friday (February 6) and it will be fascinating to see how many changes they make to a crew which is performing so surprisingly well.

This stage promises to be as absorbing as anything that has proceeded it since the fleet left Alicante on October 11 on the first stage of the nine-leg, nine-month marathon around the world, culminating in Gothenburg, Sweden on June 27.


all images Juerg Kauffman/Team Alvimedica

Rob Greenhalgh, the ultra-experienced watch captain of MAPFRE (GBR), sums up the challenges: “Historically, Leg 4 is a bit of a tricky one. A lot of upwind, a lot of reaching, quite a long leg as well.

“I imagine it will be quite close, certainly up until the Philippines. There’s a few options on routes to take beyond that. Tight reaching angles may see the boats separate a little bit.”

Most of the sailors agree that the Philippines will be a key staging post on a route that takes the boats through the South China Sea and into the Pacific, skirting past eastern Australia.

“Going in the right direction, beyond the Philippines, is key,” said Greenhalgh. “As you start cracking off and reaching, the boats which do the reaching angles fast will make a bit of a jump.”

Bekking, so determined to bury memories of his crew’s 'bloody hopeless' fifth place in the last leg and put Team Brunel back on track, agrees.

“The key point will be at the top of the Philippines. You have to make a decision – how far north you go or how far east,” he said.

“Maybe it doesn’t show straight away, it will only show up after one and a half or two weeks of sailing, but it will be quite critical over there.”

The 51-year-old Dutchman is looking forward to almost perfect sailing conditions from the outset on Sunday as the fleet sails off from Sanya.



“It looks like a very good breeze leaving Sanya – maybe up to 25 to 30 knots - so that’s a bit different than three years ago when the guys were drifting around for a couple days,” he said.

“That’s actually a bit uncomfortable, but at least we’ll make good mileage towards New Zealand so that’s a really good thing.”

Chris Nicholson (AUS) and several members of the Team Vestas Wind crew, whose boat was badly damaged on a reef in the Indian Ocean on November 29 during Leg 2, will watch the departure in Sanya.

The skipper from Lake Macquarie, New South Wales, reported on Thursday that Vestas Wind had arrived at the Persico yard in Bergamo, Italy, and the first stages of the rebuild were now underway with a hoped-for return to the race in June.

Meantime, the latest round of the In-Port Race Series - this one named the Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race - will be held on Saturday with Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) aiming to continue their good form following victory in Abu Dhabi.


Miss Universe Rolene Strauss pretty ups the wheel on Donfeng

Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team/Volvo Ocean Race

Darth Warrior
02-05-2015, 09:44 PM
They should load the boats with Miss Universe contestants.

Don't you agree?

02-08-2015, 10:51 AM

SANYA, China, February 8 – Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) have dominated the Volvo Ocean Race ever since they entered their home waters in Sanya last month, and Sunday marked no change despite four swaps in their crew line-up for Leg 4 to Auckland.

They won the stage from Abu Dhabi and then followed up on Saturday with a faultless win in the Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race here.

Caudrelier’s men raced clear of the six-strong fleet virtually from the starter’s gun on Sunday and exited the bay of Sanya first, cheered on by the usual enthusiastic crowds here on leg departure day.

However, there was still a long, long way to go on a treacherous stage to New Zealand’s ‘City of Sails’, and they soon lost their slim early advantage to Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED).

The fourth stage to Auckland, a distance of some 5,264 nautical miles (nm), is probably the toughest so far in terms of the sea conditions the fleet will meet, especially in in the South China Sea, when they head towards the Philippines.

All images © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race



Dongfeng have rested four of the sailors who saw them victorious in their home port in the previous leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya. Martin Strömberg (SWE), Erwan Israel (FRA) and Chinese pair Yang Jiru (English name ‘Wolf’) and Chen Jin Hao (‘Horace’) step in.

Caudrelier’s toughest call was to go ahead with the pre-race plan of resting Pascal Bidégorry (FRA), his long-time mentor, with Israel taking his role of navigator for Leg 4.

Israel certainly doesn’t lack experience in the race after winning the previous edition as part of the Groupama crew.

That is more than can be said of Alex Higby (GBR), who was awakened at 0700 local time on Sunday, to be told to stand by for his first taste of Volvo Ocean Race duty on board Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR).



He is stepping in for Azzam’s Emirati sailor, Adil Khalid, who has been forced to pull out at the 11th hour because of a vomiting bug.

“I know Adil is devastated to have to miss Leg 4 and I have wished him a speedy recovery,” said Higby, who has been a member of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s shore crew in the sail loft.

“I haven’t had much time to think about the significance of getting the call-up from Ian, but I’m of course very excited to get the chance to sail in my first Volvo Ocean Race leg,” he added.

The pressure will be on the newcomer from Poole, Dorset in England. His team trail Dongfeng Race Team by just one point after three of the nine legs of the nine-month, 38,739nm marathon.

But it’s by no means a two-team race. So far, there have been three separate winners of the first three legs and Leg 2 winners, Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), are still in contention despite a disappointing fifth place Leg 3 finish.

Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), the youngest crew in the race, are feeling bullish after claiming their first podium finish with third spot on Leg 3, but MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) both have points to prove after failing so far to reach their potential on the offshore stages.

The boats are forecast to arrive in Auckland in roughly three-and-a-half weeks at the beginning of March.

02-08-2015, 11:04 AM
ADOR powers through the inshore section of Leg 4 out of Sanya
© Mark Bow Volvo Ocean Race

ADOR races against Team SCA during the inshore section of Leg 4 out of Sanya
©Mark Bow Volvo Ocean Race

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – 8 February, 2015: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR) - the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR)-contesting team from the UAE capital – has set off on Leg 4 of the epic round-the-world challenge, which takes the racing yachts from China to New Zealand, looking to maintain its record of top-three finishes in the competition so far.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture (TCA Abu Dhabi)-backed team set out from Sanya on Hainan Island at 1400 local time on Sunday in warm sunshine and around 15 knots of wind. The 5,264 nautical-mile leg is expected to take around three weeks to complete.

ADOR’s aim for another podium finish was made even more challenging at the last minute, after the team’s Emirati helmsman and trimmer, Adil Khalid, was struck down with a stomach bug, meaning skipper Ian Walker was forced into an emergency line-up change. This meant a late call up for ADOR reserve sailor Alex Higby, with the Englishman up until now working as sailmaker for the shore crew.

Azzam in the thick of the action on the inshore section of the start of Leg 4 from Sanya China to Auckland New Zealand
© Ian Roman Abu Dhab

“It’s a big disappointment not to have Adil on board,” Walker said. “Nobody likes to change a successful combination and Adil is an important part of the crew. He is very sad not to be coming with us but he understands the risk of him getting worse or infecting the rest of us is just too great. Better that he uses the next few weeks to rest up and get himself well so that he can come back strong in Auckland.”

Stepping into an established crew at the last minute is never easy but Walker said he was confident that Higby would be up to the challenge. “We planned for this sort of eventuality – sickness or an injury to one of our under-30 sailors – and Alex did plenty of sailing with us before the race started and the crew knows him very well. I’m sure he will do a great job for us.”

Walker added he is expecting a tough opening section of the leg from Sanya to the Luzon Straight at the top of the Philippines, with strong headwinds and big seas making life uncomfortable on board.

“These new VO65s sail at very extreme angles – especially upwind,” Walker said. “Living down below on Azzam can get pretty unpleasant when she is so heeled over and you are crashing through big waves. Even simple things like making a freeze-dried meal or a hot drink can turn into a real mission and we have to be very careful to avoid picking up any injuries.”

Leg 4 sees the fleet re-cross the equator and potentially have to deal with tropical storm conditions in the southern hemisphere before they reach Auckland – also known as ‘the city of sails’.


After a short inshore section close to the Sanya Race Village, ADOR’s celebrity jump off guest, China’s leading professional golfer Lianwei Zhang, made a spectacular jump from Azzam’s stern.

Zhang - the first pro-golfer from China to play a tournament in Abu Dhabi – said he had never experienced anything like sailing on Azzam.

“The crew are amazing,” he said. “I didn’t realise how hard these boats are to sail. The crew really has to be super fit and there is a lot all going on at the same time. I was a little nervous about jumping but in the end I just stepped up and went for it.”

From there the six-boat fleet powered down the Hainan Island coastline in close formation at more than 15 knots, before rounding a final turning mark in the shadow of the spectacular 108-metre ‘Guanyin of the South Sea of Sanya’ statue just before sunset.

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet races out of Sanya
© Ainhoa Sanchez Volvo Ocean Race

Walker said his strategy for the first few days would be to protect Azzam and her sails from any damage in the brutal headwinds.

“I don’t think you can win this leg on the first section to Luzon,” he said. “But you could lose it by breaking the boat or damaging a key sail. We won’t be holding back but we will be making sure we get Azzam through these first few days of tough stuff.”

Leg 4 is expected to take the fleet about 21 days to complete with the leader predicted to cross the finish line in Auckland on or around March 1.

02-08-2015, 11:12 AM
Gotta get up to get down!

Everyone knows that the shortest point between A and B is a straight line. Trouble is, in sailing it’s not always the quickest. Never could this be more true than on Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, according to Team Alvimedica’s navigation support and performance analyst, Anderson Reggio. “When you get into the Pacific Ocean, it may actually pay to be sailing hard east, maybe even slightly north of that, and more towards Japan than Auckland,” he says.


Such are the dilemmas that Anderson has been poring over in great detail alongside Team Alvimedica’s on-board navigator, Will Oxley. The challenges begin right out of the start from Sanya. “The geography between Taiwan, China and the south China Sea means that the north-east monsoon breezes have a tendency to accelerate between the land masses,” says Reggio. “Also, the currents that come up from the Philippines tend to mix and create an awful sea state through the Strait of Luzon, the stretch of water between Taiwan and the northern tip of the Philippines. That's what we're looking at for the start of Leg 4, potential boat-breaking conditions.”

After three fairly soft legs in the race, the start of Leg 4 could be a rude awakening, with up to 30 knots of wind and a nasty sea state. It will require the crews possibly to throttle back and sail in boat-preservation mode rather than push for all-out speed. But presuming the fleet makes it safely out of the South China Sea and into the Pacific, the next problem is which way to go. “It's the constant play in sailing of, is it worth taking a short-term loss for the long-term gain?” says Reggio. “Sailing north literally takes you in the opposite direction of where you want to go, but in the last race Puma went so far north because they thought in the long term it was going to give them significantly better pressure, and they were going to get to that pressure before anybody else. With the Doldrums down around the Solomon Islands, they were hopeful it was going to put them very far east in that set-up. And the further east you are, the narrower the Doldrums tend to be.”

So, speculate to accumulate, but it’s still a brave navigator who opts for that northerly route, however well it might have worked out last time three years ago. With the boats now one-design, and the fleet far more tightly bunched in this edition than previous Volvo Ocean Races, the dilemma becomes even harder to justify, according to Reggio. “You have 3,000 miles to get from Taiwan to the Solomon Islands, which is where you can expect to meet the unpredictability of the Doldrums. Last time round, that move north only started to pay dividends five or six days later. In this game now, with all the boats identical, it's harder to convince yourself to get away from the pack.”




Reggio’s analysis points to 75% of this 5,264 nautical mile leg taking place on port tack, with the wind mostly on the beam. High-speed reaching conditions, which is why the Turkish-American crew has been using training time in Sanya to analyze sail shapes and set-up with Tony Mutter, a former winner of the race who flew in from New Zealand for a few days’ coaching. It’s all part of Team Alvimedica’s ongoing mentor and coaching program, which has already seen useful input from former Volvo Ocean Race winner Stu Bannatyne and America’s Cup winner Dean Phipps. “We can ask Tony anything,” says skipper Charlie Enright. “He's seen it all. We're confident in the answers he gives, and even though he hasn't spent a ton of time on the boat, it is great to get his input. He's brought some new things to the table with our downwind VMG work, and hopefully they'll reflect in our boatspeed on this next leg. It’s been really useful to get a fresh perspective from someone who's won the race before.”

If the fleet does decide to abandon the ‘Great Northern Route’ in favor of something more straightforward and direct, straight-line boatspeed will be critical. However, there are still tactical and strategic choices to be made, says Reggio. “When you come out into the Pacific, you're into a generally north to north-easterly flow of trade winds. The further south you go, typically the further right the breeze goes. So if you go south first, you sail a lot less distance down the rhumb line, but you get headed as you go on port tack, possibly necessitating you to tack out of there. That would be a bad angle, when everybody else is sailing down over the top of you. So it's often better to stay high early and come down south later. Plus, the further east you can get, the thinner the Doldrums. So it's going to be a similar play to what you saw with the Equator crossing in Leg 1 to Cape Town, but just flip it the other way. Leg 1: the further west you got, the thinner the Doldrums; Leg 4: the further east you go, the thinner the Doldrums.

Ah, those Doldrums! In the good old days of the Whitbread Race, the fleet crossed the dreaded randomness of the Equatorial winds just twice, one down the Atlantic and once back up. But in the modern race, this Pacific crossing of the Equator will be the fleet’s third time through the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), with a fourth still to come on Leg 6 from Itajai, Brazil, to Newport, Rhode Island. After 3,000 miles of sailing from Sanya, the fleet could well be facing a restart of Leg 4 at the Equator.

Get more of Anderson Reggio’s thoughts about Leg 4 in Part 2, coming up in a few weeks from now.

Honey Badger
02-08-2015, 09:22 PM
As much as they liked the hospitality and cuisine, I bet the crews are happy to see the detours over with.

02-09-2015, 06:14 PM


It’s Day 1 of Leg 4, and the red boat of Dongfeng Race Team arrows sharply into the swollen waves, sending spray, scattered, left and right.

As French duo Eric Peron and Kevin Escoffier wrestle with a sail on the bow they are surrounded - and hit, hard, by a flurry of ice cold, watery punches.
Just 24 hours since leaving the luxury of Sanya, the fight is back on.

“It won’t be as easy as the last leg, I think,” laughs Kevin some moments later, drying off on deck, the yellow hull of Team Brunel visible close behind him.
At the 1540 UTC position report, his boat sits at the front of the fleet, some 2.7nm ahead of second-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, and with a 10nm advantage on last-placed Team SCA.
But their fight is not only with the opposition.

Down in the dark of the galley, Horace looks worn and worried. Homesickness or seasickness, one thing’s for sure - his deep, measured breaths can’t quite hide the extent of his woes.
Their fight is with their stomachs.

“How do you feel Horace?” pokes Onboard Reporter Sam Greenfield, camera trained on the Chinese sailor.
He looks down the lens, face sullen – he can barely summon the energy to speak.
“Bleurgh,” Kevin mimes.

And he’s not the only one. “Any sailor that tells you that they don’t get seasick is full of it,” writes Sam, afterwards.
“Thinking about performing simple acts, like putting on my wet weather gear to go outside and pee, feels like squaring off on the starting line of a marathon across the Gobi desert.”
Erwan Israel, the newbie on board the French-Chinese boat, sits at the nav desk.

The fight is with the mind.
“But after the first afternoon we were leading and it felt like, ‘phew’. The stress was evacuated and now I can enjoy this experience with the crew.”
With that, BANG! slaps a wave against the hull. SLAM! and then another. The sea state is big – and it’s throwing the fleet around like toy boats in a bath.
The fight is with the waves.
Over on Team Alvimedica, who are fighting neck and neck with Brunel in fourth and fifth position, helmsman Alberto Bolzan stares into the horizon.
“We know that we have a few tough days in front of us,” he admits. “We’re forecast about 30 knots or more – big waves.”
“We have to be smart and use the boat in the right way, don’t break it, keep it safe.”

The fight is with themselves – how hard can they push the boats?
In third place is Spanish boat MAPFRE - and Xabi Fernández' crew, who started the race around Sanya bay poorly, have gotten themselves right back into the middle of things.
“It wasn’t the best start, but this is a long and tough leg," he smiled at the nav desk this morning.
In fact, sometimes it seems that the only safe havens onboard the Volvo Ocean 65 are the bunk, and the nav desk.
“Inside the boat, it feels like being in a washing machine,” says Stefan Coppers, Team Brunel’s Onboard Reporter.
“You have to hold yourself continuously with two hands to prevent from falling.”

Team SCA skipper Sam Davies laughs. She did just that, with a bowl full of food.
“I took a timed dive onto the nav seat next to Libby, with my dog bowl carefully in my hands,” she explains. “I nearly re-decorated the nav station.”
“Libby looked nicely unimpressed, as if to say ‘you’re pushing your luck – do not pour your lunch on my computer’”.
The girls sit at the back of the fleet, but just 1.6nm separates them from the opposition.
It’s a drag race towards the Philippines, and whilst ever it stays this close, it’s anyone’s game.

Well, as long as they can keep the boat in one piece.
“Sitting in the nav station, Ian just referred to the South China Sea as the ‘sea of certain breakage’” writes Matt Knighton, on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
“The past 24 hours have undoubtedly been the toughest of the race to date. The win on our bow has turned from mild and pleasant to nasty and unrelenting.
“Unrelenting in that the unpredictability of what is in front of us is overwhelming – there’s no rhythm to the waves.”
The fight is back on.


“The beginning of a very important leg”
MAPFRE begins a new leg in the Volvo Ocean Race. The fourth one. We left the dock in really good spirits towards the gigantic Buddha a few miles away from the Marina where the Race Village was set up. “It wasn’t the best start, but this is a long and tough leg” said Xabi Fernández.
After rounding the Buddha mark we could make up a bit of the ground lost in the downwind towards the majestic statue. We stayed to windward of the fleet, waiting for the best moment to tack and get in the middle for the 20 knots beat to the Philippines.
The wind started building slowly and so did the sea. So far I’m the only one who’s feeling seasick even after taking the pills. The guys are working really hard, “this is a very long and hard upwind and there are going to be a lot of place changes," says Rafa Trujillo.
At dawn the wind built over 25 knots and we did a reef on the mainsail and peeled from J1 to J2. A lot of spray onboard and Ñeti, Carlos, Willy and Rafa did a quick and great peel. The boat is jumping for good and diving into the waves of the South China Sea. We expect at least another 48 hours upwind.
Vamos MAPFRE!!

Francisco Vignale

Dear Grandma,
Maybe I should have followed your advice. ‘Stefan, get a job in an office.’
I think about this a lot now we just have left the port of Sanya. Pfff, here I am in these super-violent seas.
"If it were easy, everybody would do it," smiles Gerd-Jan. Well, easy for him to say. That man was born for these kind of circumstances. 25 knots of wind on the nose and waves as high as one normally only sees in movies.
And we don’t get much boat speed, dear Grandma. Upwind is not such a rapid angle with sailing boats. The boat has to fight its way against these waves, nose dive and crash though the wall of water.
Inside the boat it feels like being in a washing machine. You have to hold yourself continuously with two hands to prevent from falling.
The sailing suits hang dripping on the hook and the whole boat feels clammy. While our boys stack the bags to distribute the weight on the boat, they are being bashed to all sides!
Well, I would give the top of my finger – chopped off without anaesthesia – to get the boat in smooth waters, if only for a moment.

Did you know that this area where we sail, between China and the Philippines is notorious for its rough seas? Where we come from is in fact the warm hemisphere.
And North China is now ice cold. All that cold air flows with great speed to that nice warm place. Actually just like you do in the winter, you go to Spain. Looking for the warmth attraction of the sun.
And in those circumstances Johnny, Rokas and Louis tonight had to change a sail on the foredeck. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
The nose of the boat crashed into the waves while the men were completely under water doing their jobs! In the dark! Heroes, I tell you. If you were 50 years younger, you probably would have wanted to give it a try? Haha.

The kilo drop you passed is currently not for my stomach. But skipper Bouwe is happy: he loves licorice. Now that I think about it: he's one of the few who actually eats.
Do all the others suffer in secret? Or are they still recovering from 10 days Chinese culinary misery? Grandmother, never go to China for the food!
Would those Frenchmen onboard with Dongfeng also have eaten this Chinese food on the boat? That's why those guys go so hard, they want to quickly shore up! Maybe I should not pamper our boys too much in the coming weeks.

Well dear Grandma, I'm going to go get some fresh air.
Best of luck in the bridge card competition next Tuesday and see you soon.

Stefan Coppers
OBR, Team Brunel

So, here is the skippers blog on day two of leg 4….
Hello Earthlings!
BANG, CRASH, SPLOOOOOOOSH as the waves crash over Team SCA. We have been out here for 24h now and finally we get what we came for - life at the extreme.
Extreme angles of heel, extreme - ly WET, extreme levels of difficulty in doing ANYTHING on board. I just had my lunch (freeze dried roast chicken) and nearly re-decorated the nav station as I took a timed dive onto the nav seat next to Libby with my dog bowl carefully "gimbled" in my hands.
Libby looked nicely unimpressed looking at me like as if to say "you are pushing your luck" "do not pour your lunch on my computer". We have some crew members struggling to find their sea legs, and so we are looking after them, if you get sick, you are allowed a Coke and Ginger Nuts, so there is a small bonus to the misery of seasickness…
Despite the tough lifestyle, racing continues at 100% all the time on Team SCA. On my last watch we just did the most horrible of all the sail changes you have to do: the J1 to J2 change, a really really hard job requiring the whole team on the bow to wrestle the J1 down into its bag and off the foredeck.
Life in the washing machine for the girls and Liz and Stacey did a great job organising the change and it went really well.
We were happy to see that our change was better than that of Alvimedica next to us! Now we are expecting more wind and rougher conditions in the next 24h. I am about to jump into my bunk and get two hours sleep (if I am lucky).
Right now I am EXTREME-ly tired that I know the constant slamming into the waves is not going to keep me awake at all - I will crank my bunk up to a high angle so I can't fall out and wedge myself between the hull and the bunk…. luxury!
At least our great Team SCA boat looks after us, she is still dry inside and we take care to sponge out the bilges every watch so there is a small amount of dry comfort still!
Speak again soon

Sam Davies
Skipper, Team SCA


It’s an indescribable feeling of nausea that takes hold within the first 36 hours of a rough leg start, a stomach churn so permanent that it makes you incapable of doing anything, at least not well. Your body needs time to acclimate—time that in this case we didn’t supply—and whether you throw up or not doesn’t matter: the group universally feels like crap and it usually lasts until conditions improve.
Your bunk is probably the only place you can calm the onslaught but the reality is you can’t climb in it. There are sails to change, a boat to drive, meals to cook, or a blog to write. Everyone has things to do and you just kind of have to tough it out and remember it always gets better…eventually!
It hasn’t been as bad as we expected though, transiting the South China Sea, but the weather came on quicker than forecasted and we blame that for the shock to the system. 30 knots upwind in a deep and steep wave is uncomfortable but to be fast is another sort of struggle and it’s just not a kind of sailing that we’ve done much of before. There is very little familiarity to fall back on.
But the slamming has eased up for now, a window I’m using to finally put finger to keyboard, and the sun has poked its head out of the clouds. Despite the deeply unsettled feeling in my stomach and the fact I haven’t been able to eat a thing since yesterday’s lunch—it’s easy to see we’re all really happy to be back out here as a team, in the mix and racing towards Auckland!

Amory Ross
OBR, Team Alvimedica


Onshore in Sanya I caught wind of Team Alvimedica’s nickname for Pascal Bidégorry, our navigator.
Jesus ‘F***ing’ Christ.

Seb Marsset alleged an ability to walk on water during calm spells and pull the boat along, which I’ll testify I never saw myself, from deck or air.
But JfC is resting up this leg, and in his place is former Groupama driver/trimmer Erwan Israel.
And I won’t lie; as we left the dock yesterday without our Rain Man after racking in both a leg and in-port win during the Sanya stopover, I felt just a bit nervous.
But that anxiety dissipated as soon as we turned upwind at the mother of Buddha statue, simply because I’ve been too seasick to think about anything racing related for the last 24 hours.
Let me clarify. You don’t have to throw up to be seasick, and seasickness has many ugly heads.
I call my particular brand the ‘sea sleeps’; here’s what it’s like: My muscles turn to jello after hours of bracing as the boat falls off wave after wave like a never-ending ride of the tower of terror at Disney.
The very idea of eating makes me nauseous.

Thinking about performing simple acts, like putting on my wet weather gear to go outside and pee, feels squaring off on the starting line of a marathon across the Gobi desert.
But the plus is that I sleep like a gold plated champion no matter where I’m sitting, standing laying down on the boat.
And when I wake up I feel great and then I go eat and take a pee before it starts up again.
Any sailor that tells you they don’t get seasick is full of **it.

I ask Erwan, sitting next to me at JfC’s navigation alter, if he’s ever gotten sea sick.
“No, not really.” He says at first. “C’mon, never?” I persist.
“Well, when I put on my foul weather gear down below I don’t feel great.”

Bingo. Stage 1 sea sleeps. Charles is sleeping so I decide to introduce Erwan to my daily round of inquisitions.
He’s very approachable and explains that we’re sailing upwind to the Philippines and that for the next 36 hours we’ll have building winds – up to 30 something- knots and bad sea state.
Aka. another 36 hours on the tower of terror I ask how he’s coping with the new job.
“I was really stressed the last evening because of the pressure of being navigator on this Volvo Ocean Race is a lot for me.”
I ask about our position. Erwan shows me that the rest of the fleet is either behind us or to leeward. I’d been too comatose to notice.
“But after the first afternoon we were leading and it felt like, phew. The stress was evacuated and now I can enjoy this experience with the crew.”
I let Erwan get back to his calculations and reflect that although we’ve lost our JfC for this leg to Auckland it seems we’ve gained one of his apostles. I’ll let you know if I catch him walking on water.

Sam Greenfield
OBR, Dongfeng Race Team

Azzam is rocking so violently right now; it’s hard to type a full sentence.
The past 24 hours have undoubtedly been the toughest of the race to date. Since rounding the turning mark at the Buddha yesterday evening the wind on our bow has turned from mild and pleasant to nasty and unrelenting. Unrelenting in that the unpredictability of what is in front of us is overwhelming. There’s no rhythm to the waves.

Throughout the night we’ve only been able to guess at what the sea state looks like. As soon as there is ten seconds of perceived calm water, the boat launches off a wave long enough to make everything free fall down below before slamming with a force that shakes the mast above. It reverberates through the entire hull.

There’s no comfort in knowing the fleet is condensed to 5 miles and we’re all experiencing the same conditions. It only multiplies the probability that one of us will break something. Most of the tactical choices that will determine the leg will happen after rounding the Philippines; right now it’s a war of attrition to see who will make it in one piece.
Sitting in the nav station, Ian just laughed referring to the South China Sea as the “Sea of Certain Breakage”. He would know, in the 2008-09 race both he and Chuny were forced to anchor with their teams in the Philippines after sustaining significant damage.
Pointing to the foreboding dark red in front of us on the weather model, Ian remarks, “When we broke Green Dragon to pieces this was all black – 50 knots with 10m waves!

Matt Knighton
OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Dutch Rudder
02-09-2015, 09:52 PM
You would think they would all be used to mal de mer by now.

02-11-2015, 02:51 PM

This week, the fleet is sailing through one of the most congested waterways in the world, dodging fishing boats, tankers and many other hazards.
The teams also unfortunately witness the level of pollution surrounding them as they pass Singapore waters. Then the six boats finally exit close to each other in the South China Sea to sprint to their final destination…

Life in the fast lane

- Team SCA and Team Brunel gamble on northern route
- Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing grab slim lead by early Wednesday
- Download our app for the latest reaction from the ocean

SANYA, China, February 11 – Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) have taken their courage in their hands with a push north for more wind in Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race as the fleet entered the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday.

The two crews must wait around a week to discover if their tactics to head towards Taiwan – in apparently totally the wrong direction – have paid off. Early indications are that they could earn rich dividends on the 5,264-nautical mile (nm) leg from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand.

The pair have taken a wider arc, further north, after exiting the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and the Luzon Island of the Philippines.

It is a ‘fast lane’ route that will mean that they will sail roughly 300nm longer than their four rivals, but they are banking on better wind to propel them clear. Eventually.

“So far, the weather models say they have got it right, but it will be six or seven days – or even more – before we know for sure,” said the race’s official meteorologist, Gonzalo Infante, on Wednesday.

At 0955 UTC, the multi-national women’s crew and the Dutch team still trailed early leg pacesetters, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), by some 120nm, but were already making inroads into that deficit.

Infante added that the fleet would probably converge in the north Pacific Ocean in over a week’s time.

“The danger for Team SCA and Team Brunel at that point will be as they enter a stretch of Doldrums, which can be random,” he said. “But they could well end up in a very strong position by the time they reach the South Pacific.

“This leg is seeing more of a split in the fleet than we’ve had before.”

The four-strong main pack is currently led by Walker’s second-placed crew, with MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP), Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) and race leaders Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) chasing hard. They are grouped within 4nm of each other. They have around 4,700nm to the finish.

Mercifully, the sea state, which had been churned up by currents and winds running in roughly opposite directions in the South China Sea causing widespread seasickness, has been less uncomfortable for the crews in the past 12 hours.

Team Brunel’s Onboard Reporter, Stefan Coppers, summed up neatly: “Imagine being on a roller coaster over 60 hours consecutively – that is more or less the feeling. You want it to stop, but there is no way out.”

Computers predict an arrival into Auckland around March 1.

02-15-2015, 12:14 PM

Leg 4 to Auckland. Day 7. Team Brunel has taken the lead. Their initial bet to take the northerly route early in the leg and sail hundreds of miles more is paying off. Now the two northern teams are cashing in. ”They are 4 knots quicker. I hope they don’t continue otherwise we have a lot of work to do.” says Will Oxley on Team Alvimedica


Leg 4 to Auckland. Day 7. Yet another mechanical challenge onboard Dongfeng Race Team, when the halyard locking system broke in the middle of the night, preventing them from using their J1. After seven hours of work in the dark, a workaround with another halyard allowed them to put their J1 back up.

02-15-2015, 03:13 PM


"Even if they have to chop my arm off, I will sail to Cape Horn."
The fear was there tonight for Gerd-Jan Poortman. At a sail change in the dead of the night, the bowman was caught by a wave and thrown against one of the upright dagger boards.
Result: a ruptured eardrum in one ear and a bruised arm. Poortman was immediately placed in his bunk with a serious dose of horse painkillers. “I thought: Sh*t, the next leg is Cape Horn," said Poortman.

Poortman is a specialist hitting hard on the dagger board. In 2006 this happened to him as a rookie on ABNAMRO TWO in the leg from Melbourne to Wellington.
He broke his back and missed the leg passing Cape Horn. And with Team Delta Lloyd, the legendary leg was missed because the boat was broken. Completing the rounding of Cape Horn is for Johnny a race on it’s own.

This morning Johnny reports on deck for his shift despite his painful arm for his battle with the elements. But skipper Bekking thought otherwise and ordered his bowman to stay inside. A similar remedy worked earlier this week excellent for flu-like Arrarte.
Bekking feels sorry for the situation: "A sail change in these conditions is always risky. We slow down the speed from 25 to 17 knots. But the power of water is enormous, as you see. But Johnny'll be fine again."

Stefan Coppers
OBR, Team Brunel



All work and no talk
If you weren’t onboard Dongfeng Race Team the last 12-hours- well, consider yourself lucky.
It hasn’t been all skittles and pillows.
I asked Erwan to sum it up.
“It was a sh*t night for us,” he said.
Goodness Erwan, the news ladies can’t send that out, I considered, so I waited for Erwan to leave the nav desk and five minutes later Kevin sat down and I asked him the same question.
“What a sh*tty night,” he elaborated.
I guess Voltaire couldn’t have said it better.

Here’s what happened. After dark the wind picked up and the sea got testy.
The halyard locking system, or “silver dick”, as Kevin calls it, failed and we lost our J1. The crew hoisted the J2 fast but it wasn’t suited for the angle we were sailing, so we lost miles on the fleet.
“Losing miles, breaking stuff, and it’s not our fault,” said Kevin.
It was seven hours of work in total to figure out how to get the J1 back up on another halyard.
But it revealed a significant frustration.

“Maybe it should have been replaced in Sanya since other boats already broke this exact part – now we know it should have,” said Kevin.
I asked the boss.

“We did want it changed before but we were told it was ok and everything was in good shape,” said Charles.
“I mean that’s part of the game,” said Charles. “To be able to prepare the boats. It’s two things. There is the Boatyard, but it’s also our boat and we could have seen it and changed it”
Either way, it happened to us and as a result Azzam went from 9 miles ahead to 20 and Charles is back to swearing in two languages per string.
I slept through sunrise, exhausted from a late night filming the mayhem, cursed myself because the previous two sunrises had been less than stellar and this one looked crisp and I missed it and I went straight to packing the food bag for the day.
It’s Horace Chen’s birthday!

There was a little card and a care package with candy stashed right up next to the toilet bags. I took the package and hid it in the same spot I’m stashing the last jug of nutella, figuring I’d wait for the day to simmer down and end on a good note.
It was two days ago – on February 13th- the day Horace had picked all the flying fish off the deck.
Sometimes he’ll venture back to my cave to put on his wet weather gear before watch. I don’t mind the company.
So I was sitting at the media desk when Horace surprised me.

Horace is notoriously difficult to get to open up. Kit and Black and Wolf have no trouble sharing their emotions, but with Horace everything is always good or fine. It’s frustrating for an OBR but the truth is that some people just don’t say much, like Thomas.
He’s a workhorse with the stamina of a Jack Russell. He’s always one of the first on deck and he’s never late for a watch. Maybe he’s not a ‘media dream’, but then again, most sailors aren’t.
His English is very stilted as he only learned to speak it in the last year.
When Horace speaks English he talks he sounds like a Hollywood Kung Fu master, so I’m also amused to try and understand what he’s saying.
And no, he doesn’t get the wax on, wax off joke.

“Sam. I want tell you something. On this day. One year ago. Kit and I meet Charles and French sailors for first time in Hong Kong.”
I imagined the Kit and Horace roaming around a Hong Kong shipping yard drooling over the Volvo Ocean 65 with nothing better to do. My friends and I have done the exact same in Newport countless time over: go and stare at boats you think you’ll never get to sail.
“One year ago we see this boat for the first time. And today, I’m here sailing. It’s an amazing feeling.”
I told him I know the feeling.

“And I want to thank our Chinese sponsors for giving all us this incredible opportunity. Really. Without them Chinese sailors not get to do this.”
I looked at Horace and said, “Do you have any idea how lucky you are?”
“Yes!” he laughed. “So lucky. It’s incredible.”
He walked away smiling all the way into his salt-water washing machine.

That’s Horace. All work and no talk and celebrating his 23rd birthday on the Volvo Ocean Race.
I was living in my grandmother’s spare bedroom and unemployed at 22.
I think he’s onto something.
Happy 23rd Birthday Mr. Chen.

Sam Greenfield
OBR, Dongfeng Race Team



Tracker (http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/virtualeye.html)

A week has passed since the start. We had a few days of great sailing conditions with no major incidents and the daily routines are settling.
Life onboard Team SCA moves on rather smoothly for the moment. We had a few sail changes so sleep has been short but we go fast and in the right direction so everyone is in good spirit.
Despite the fact that we are sailing in a completely different time zone than Europe life onboard is scheduled after UTC. This means breakfast at 17:30, lunch at 01:30 and dinner at 09:30.
We welcome the sun around 22:00 and 12 hours later it's dark again. Apart from the sailing and the fact that we are constantly racing there are many things that are similar to life on dry land. It´s just a little bit upside down.
The simplest thing at home can be quite complicated out here, like finding your way to the bathroom without hitting your head on the wall or making a cup of evening tea without pouring the boiling water over your hands instead of in the cup. My favorite is when you really put an effort.
The meal is ready to eat and you find yourself what you think is a fairly secure place to enjoy it when the boat takes off and you go with it. You land with the bowl still in your hand but the food all over.
The wind is very shifty for the moment and comes and goes from various directions. Sometimes it feels like the boat has stopped and sometimes we are up and running in 20 knots.
It seems like this is the kind of conditions we can expect the next couple of days. It´s just to dig in. We have many miles to cover and we count them down one by one.

Anna-Lena Elled




February 15: a day for sore teeth and heart-shaped candy hangovers, even on the high-seas.
Too much sugar onboard and I’ve heard troubling signs of yesterday’s perfect romances already heading for the rocks.
I made Housty’s coffee too cold this morning and Dave called Charlie out for not slinging his foulies behind the curtain because they don’t dry there, but inboard their weight isn’t utilized, but Charlie’s actually been good about it.
A huge misunderstanding. Counseling is hard to find in the Philippine Sea but we’re working through (I keep saying there’s no fire without friction).
Honeymoon hitches aside; boat speed over the last 48 hours has been really good. We’ve been fast compared to our southern-pack and it seems to come down to minimizing inconsistencies in our sailing.

We’ve been much better at adjusting the boat to our liking, changing modes and trim to the changing conditions, sailing the boat the way we already know. There were some costly skeds where we were probably too absorbed in what the competition was doing, what modes they were sailing, worrying about their setup instead of ours.

We’ve hammered it time and time again, the potential disadvantages of one design AIS-racing, but as Will said following another good sked this morning, “we just have to continue doing our own thing and keep focusing on what we need to do.” Well-timed words as the fleet again compresses towards the Northern Marianas.
Brunel and SCA are cashing in, reaching down to our line having pulled the trigger on their potential gains to the north. The wind looks lighter that way in the coming days and we should all be together soon.

The valuable lessons from the last week, about confidence in our testing and in our knowledge base and about sticking to a plan, at some point you need to begin exercising what you’ve learned and I think we’ve discovered that time is now.

The next week will be more of the same straight-line sailing, east by southeast, with some island spotting and significant world history scattered throughout. Plenty to keep us distracted from the continued post-Valentine fallout!

Amory Ross
OBR, Team Alvimedica


There are good noises on a Volvo Ocean 65 and there are bad noises.
Many bad noises aren’t that bad at all – the jaw jerking sound of a running backstay being eased, the kettle whistling because it’s time for your watch.
However, the sound our reaching strut made yesterday when it folded in half like a taco? That was a very bad noise.
The sharp bang woke anyone up who was off watch and the sound was so loud it shook through the whole boat. Reaching through the Pacific at 20 knots, several tons of energy was suddenly released in a split second and the shock wave was felt by every hair on our bodies.
The most amazing part of the breakage though, was how quickly everyone reacted.
The gap between Dongfeng and us had been growing and shrinking like an elastic band all day and every second the strut was down was costing us precious mileage. Seemingly even before the sound had stopped everyone had their gear on to charge out into the whitewater on deck.
The maze of action on the boat was astounding. The second strut was already on its way out of the hatch while Daryl was tightening a new pad-eye from below. We were back.
Dripping wet and out of breath, Wendy and Ian were first down below after the fix. Ian joked, “Why do we do this again? For the fame and fortune?”
“Fortune?” Wendy chuckled. “Nah, I do this cause I can’t sit behind a desk.”
The latest sked showed we’d put on more than 10 nm on Dongfeng and Mapfre. Ian suspects there may have been gear failure on the rest of the fleet after the 25 knots of breeze throughout the night.
Hopefully we don’t break another strut – we didn’t bring a backup this leg.

Matt Knighton
OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

02-18-2015, 10:58 AM

ALICANTE, Spain, February 18 – China’s Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) were in no mood to celebrate Chinese New Year on Wednesday after being relegated to the back of the fleet for the first time since the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 started.

Caudrelier’s crew entered the 5,264-nautical mile (nm) Leg 4 from their home port of Sanya to Auckland as overall leaders by a single point, following victory on the previous stage.

However, the crew have been struggling to re-establish their grip on the fleet and the latest setback was a problem with their mast track, which has broken free in one area. The track attaches the mainsail to the mast.

This is the third time this issue has hampered the team during the race. They have made a temporary fix with lashings to secure the track to the mast, but will want to make a more permanent repair as soon as they reach lighter winds in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.


Dongfeng’s French skipper Caudrelier was already not in the best of humours after opting against a more northerly route towards Taiwan, early in the leg, after exiting the Luzon Strait.

One of his biggest rivals for the overall prize, Bouwe Bekking of Team Brunel (NED), left Dongfeng Race Team in their wake after deciding to take that navigational gamble, and on Wednesday, the Dutch boat still led the fleet by just under 50nm.

“I was too conservative,” Caudrelier later conceded.

Chinese sailor, Yang Jiru (English name ‘Wolf’), summed up the subdued atmosphere on board his boat on Tuesday night: “The condition we are in is not ideal at all, that’s why everyone’s disappointed and also a bit upset. We are all focusing on the race and therefore don’t have much desire to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

“It’s just that we're not really in the mood to celebrate. The race is still very intense, especially since we are falling behind a lot at the moment. The only wish I have is to make a 'phone call with my family at midnight.

“But if you ask me if I have any doubt (about what I’m doing), the answer is no, I don’t feel any regret.”

Despite the glum mood, Dongfeng Race Team were certainly not out of contention altogether for good leg points (1 for first, 6 for last), with some 2,700nm left to sail before reaching their destination in New Zealand. At 1010 UTC, they had managed to cut 38nm off Team Brunel’s lead in the previous three hours and trailed by just 77nm.

Fifth-placed Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), who had also taken the ‘northern route’ with Brunel on this leg, but without making the same gains as the Dutch team, were powering along just 61.1nm behind the leaders.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) were tucked into second place, 28.4nm behind Bekking’s crew, while Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) were making the most of their consistently good boat speed, 14.8nm further adrift in third.


The pair had finished second and third in Sanya last month respectively, with Team Alvimedica securing their first podium finish in a race which has shown a steady improvement for them throughout.


MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP), in fourth, 54.8nm behind, had one major cause for cheer – they have fixed, with the collaboration of Cobham and Race HQ, for their time being at least, a problem with an antenna and so have restored full communications with Race Control.

This means that they too can receive all the weather data, the same as the other teams in the fleet. Prior to that, they had been sailing ‘blind’ since Saturday evening, unable to plot the optimum course based on the in-depth weather forecasts they were missing.

The fleet is due to arrive in Auckland in around a week’s time on February 28-March 1.

************************************************** *************************************************

ALICANTE, Spain, February 17 – Sickness on board, plus a couple of injuries, have put the crews of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet to the test as they make their way through the Pacific Ocean from Sanya to Auckland on the 5,264-nautical mile Leg 4.


Pablo Arrarte (ESP) has been struggling with ‘flu on board Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), and Justin Slattery (IRE) has been laid low by a similar virus on Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR). However, both are now getting back to full fitness, according to their crews.

Offshore sailors particularly fear sickness at sea since germs can so easily spread among the crew in the confined space.

“This is threatening,” said Jens Delmer (DEN) in a message from Team Brunel, referring to the unfortunate Arrarte’s sickness. “We live in such a small space that something can spread easily to the group.

“Because of the bad food and little sleep, everyone has a super low resistance. This is normally not a problem, because we leave with a sterile boat, and at sea there are no viruses. But if someone brings it on, then we will all be at risk.”

A couple of the sailors have also picked up minor but painful injuries since leaving Sanya on the southernmost point of China on February 8.

Guillermo (‘Willy’) Altadill (ESP) of MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) injured his hand and needed it to be bandaged up.

And Gerd-Jan Poortman (NED) ruptured his eardrum and suffered bruising to his arm and side after being washed into a dagger board on Team Brunel.

Both sailors are also reported by their crews to be back on the mend.

Although the Dutch boat was effectively a man down for a couple of days because of Arrarte’s illness, Team Brunel have established a strong position at the head of the fleet after gambling on a more northerly route along with Team SCA early in the leg.

The gamble paid off with stronger winds that propelled Bekking’s team into a near 100nm lead on Monday, but by Tuesday at 1240 UTC, that had been whittled back to 37.4nm by the chasing pack led by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR).

MAPFRE, which has been without full communications with Race Control since the weekend, is still holding on to third spot despite missing weather data to help them plot their course.

Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) were still at the rear of the fleet, 94.3nm adrift of Team Brunel, after failing to make similar gains.

02-22-2015, 11:12 PM

The clouds have been spectacular and the clouds have been disastrous. As Neal MacDonald once famously said, “There’s no such thing as a good cloud.”

They are beautiful though. In the warm waters near the middle of the earth, you can see entire weather patterns play out across the open water. Massive white puffs develop and then disappear in a matter of minutes and each have a personality of their own.

At sunrise and sunset the low light reflects amazing colors on the white canvas of clouds in the sky. Shadows are exaggerated and for a while you can see every curve and billow as they grow and shrink in size.

Some are just forming and suck up the moisture from the ocean as the tops climb thousands of feet in the air. Others are dying and pelting down sheets of moisture underneath – dark grey bands of isolated rain you can see from far away. Refreshing for a clean shower but often carrying no wind.

The wind becomes very unpredictable in the vicinity of a cloud – Ian has told us countless stories of races that were won and lost when a boat parked underneath a cloud in no wind an others caught the trend and sailed around.

For all the white clouds we could’ve seen during the daylight, the one that nailed us today was at night. At night, the worst clouds look like dark battleships in the sky, all you can see is a dark shadow – darker than the rest of the grey sky overhead.

We couldn’t avoid it, we sailed underneath it and within a minute our wind speed had dropped from 16 knots to only 1. The worst part, we stayed like that for 20 minutes as Dongfeng and MAPFRE both sailed around us. Their gains on the next sked were only a few miles – suspiciously the same distance they likely sailed around us while we were parked.

That was a bad cloud.

Matt Knighton
OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing



I was organizing the galley space just after sunrise when I felt something slip onto the tip of my fingers. I glanced down to the tip of the pointer and middle fingers on my right hand.

The smear had the look of peanut butter. It had the feel of peanut butter.

So no problem, I continued stacking the galley pockets with Kevin, without fuss, more focused on the touchy alignment of the tab that locks the cube storage wraparound to the counter.

The boat was alive and screaming downwind at 24 knots and every little turn of the helm threw me into or away from the frustrating, dexterous task at hand.

What Doldrums? I chuckled.

Instead of drifting around and staring at big clouds we were tearing through the fastest and wettest conditions I’d seen on this leg or the past.

My hands were pruned up from shooting on deck for the past hour and breakfast was late. I never forget to feed the animals. Wolf had fixed the pressure cooker lid and it was working perfectly and MAPFRE was less than half a mile off our stern and after a week in last place we were back at the front of the fleet approaching the final stretch to Auckland.

I was happy.

Until the moment I experienced a sobering moment of clarity. Sam, we don’t have peanut butter onboard. I lifted my finger to my nose and sniffed.

My. God. I gagged. It wasn’t peanut butter.

“What is it?” asked Kevin, reacting to an appalled look on my face that I wish someone had captured on camera. When I answered his question, over and over in somewhat crude terminology he responded, “Surely you can’t be serious.”

In that moment one of the sailors onboard this boat –may God save his soul if I find him out on my own- became public enemy No. 1 for leaving a mess of No. 2 in this OBR’s galley. God only knows how.

After I washed my hand and bleached the entire kitchen I climbed into my bunk for a decompression nap, furious. I feed the animals every day and this is my treat?

I fell asleep fantasising that instead of washing my hand I’d walked up to each sailor and grabbed them by the scruff of their neck and rubbed it in their nose with a stern ‘Bad! No!’ like training a puppy.

The thought made me smile and I fell fast asleep.

When I woke Kevin was in the galley and he told me a story about how during his Jules Verne attempt on a 100’+ maxi Catamaran one of the 14 crew members had missed the drop hatch and left the terrible remains of a torn compost bag for him to clean.

It had taken him hours to floss out of every corner of the head, hatch and hatch lock and no one fussed up. “Everyone went silent,” says Kevin, “It is but the nature of humans. Unbelievable, right?” “Not humans,” I say. “Animals.”

Sam Greenfield
OBR, Dongfeng Race Team


Day 14: On days like this, there is only one way and it’s forward

It’s in the middle of the day. We just had lunch. I’m at my desk down below in the dark sauna. Next to me I got Libby chatting with Carolijn at the navigation station. They go through the last position report. It was not what we were hoping for but we could see it coming. It’s not an easy task to be a navigator. There are so much data, different scenarios to consider and choices to make.

Dee Caffari is helming upstairs with a big smile on her face. The South Pacific has so far been full of surprises. A few bad, but mostly good ones, and we are far from bored. We passed a light wind area during the night and had to move all lose weight forward, including ourselves. We also did the first gybe in 10 days. Desk and gear to starboard. It’s weird to suddenly live on the other side of the boat. I welcome the change though, especially when I’m cooking, it’s nice to lean in the other direction for a change.

The morning was peaceful. It started slow with light winds during sunrise. Annie was trimming; she loves to trim in that kind of condition and you could tell by her focus and efforts. Not long after it was time to make a move and take a reef on the main and change foresail. And do the stacking of course. Don’t forget the stacking. Sails on deck and gear down below are moved from the bow towards the stern when the wind picks. Stacking is a never-ending story offshore racing. But when every knot counts we are happy to do it.

And this is where we are for the moment. Unfortunately we lost mileages on the other boats during the night and despite we are moving with up to 18 knots for the moment it looks like we will loose a few more before we can start to close the gap to the fleet again. But that’s not going to pull us down. We know where we are heading. There is one tricky transition zone between the fleet and Auckland. We put up a pretty good fight so far and we are in a hunting mood.

On days like this, with steady winds, sun, blue waves, great surf and spray on deck, there is only one way and it’s forward.

Anna-Lena Elled


“Sailing Champagne”

A great 24 hours for MAPFRE! Perfect sailing conditions. Enjoying between 20 and 25 knots of wind coming from behind, surfing the waves and covering MAPFRE’s deck with water. We’ve taken the second place now that Brunel lost the lead. The fight with Dongfeng is relentless and today, after they switched from the MH0 sail to the A3, we overtook them on windward. We’ve stayed together so far. In the evening the wind dropped to 14-17 knots and we switched to the A3.

Today was the best day of sailing since we left Alicante – perfect water temperature and ideal wind direction for us to sail at full speed towards New Zealand.

Inside the boat – extreme humidity and strong heat. The sun is hitting hard and some of us get red – rojito – because we’re not wearing sunscreen. With all the water on deck, the cream just doesn’t stay.

We’re six days away from the finish and we’re really keen to finish the leg in a podium position. There’s motivation, and things are going really well. There’s confidence, teamwork, and the desire to arrive with a good place in Auckland.

Tonight we’ll sail between Vanuatu and Fiji. It’s going to be a tough night that can define the leg. The fleet is really close together and there isn’t much room for mistakes.

I hope you’re living these last days fully from the shore. I mean, after 15 days of sailing, the fleet is within less than 10 miles. IMPRESSIVE.


Francisco Vignale


What a crazy night! Huge clouds, loads of rain, massive gains and losses, Leg 4 has just been reset. Now we find ourselves sailing in 20 knots more wind than forecast and literally ripping towards Auckland.

As fast as we make plans in the nav station we are having to tear them up and start again. As per normal we have positioned ourselves in the middle in the hope we will cover ourselves in the event of the unexpected.

I am not sure how this will play out but would favour the guys in the east right now. We have another 250 miles of good wind before another transition in light winds. We have to get this one right as time is running out to get to Auckland.

It's turning into a fantastic race and with light winds forecast for the end it will surely be a nail biter.

Ian Walker
Skipper, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing


It has been an amazing day of sailing onboard with 20-24 knots of wind for much of the day and none of it in the forecast. A very pleasant surprise! The reaching conditions have lifted everyone’s spirits after another couple of confusing skeds, further proof that the fleet can’t seem to agree on how to play the upcoming trough of little-to-no wind, and Vanuatu’s shadow.

In the meantime the battle of east versus west wages on. Brunel pushed hard to the west overnight, more west than us, and we worked our way further east (or so we thought), but we’ve just seen Brunel about 5 miles in front of our bow, going east again. Once through the trough there’s just over 1,000 miles of breezy straight-line sailing all the way to Auckland. Passing will be tough so this last call is a biggie.

Do you sail less distance and a more direct path to Auckland, aimed south and close to Vanuatu, but at the risk of running out of wind? Or do you sail really far east to avoid the hole altogether? On a map the difference in tracks is dramatic—the easterly routing takes you east of Fiji. But Will’s computer also says both options will get you to the finish within nine minutes of each other.

We’re trying not to get too distracted by the fleet and their movements, the small gains and losses from every sked can become a distraction from our own downwind sailing, a less confident point of sail for us, and from the bigger picture: setting up for the crossing. There’s a good chance the order we leave this trough is the order we finish so for the foreseeable future the focus is on deciphering the constantly changing weather and keeping the boat going fast.

Fast indeed: we’ve averaged 19 knots over the last 12 hours and we’d be happy to keep it up!

Amory Ross
OBR, Team Alvimedica

************************************************** **********

February 21, 2015


WANTED: 9-quart red Igloo cooler. Handle-less. Alone. Last seen drifting at approximately 4.223S, 165.456E. Speed, roughly Zero. Floating upright. Should be considered partly washed and hazardous; approach with caution.

You know when you fall, how your first instinct is to look and see if anyone noticed? It doesn’t matter how much it hurts if you were able to pull it off in secret.

I knew the instant the handle of the galley cooler snapped I was doomed. There would be no secret with this one, our insulated Igloo and my pride still inside it, drifting away in our wake after a transom-cleaning gone wrong. So, SO busted. It didn’t have a name like “Wilson” but I felt as severed as Tom Hanks from Castaway in losing my only true friend; nobody knows an OBR like the chili bin. We’ve shared so much since Alicante. But he’s gone and I have a very hungry group of guys I need to do some explaining to. My camera pelican case seems to be a suitable substitute for now but I’m (…they’re) thankful we have just nine days left to suffer through luke-warm food.

Crummy as I feel about the loss it’s been good fodder for the fellas during another tough day of racing. We’ve been west of the fleet for the last week and much as we try to get east, our bed’s been made for a while now. Last sked we were the fastest boat on the track but also the highest, still working to minimize their leverage but sailing away from Auckland in the process. We’re losing slowly and consistently and it’s a hard pill to swallow. The only thing we can do is keep pushing hard, keep pressing like we’ve been, and keep hoping the variable weather in our future offers an eventual blessing.

Our western-most position means we can benefit from an expected shift to the east before the gybe south. There are plenty of gains to be made there too, balancing the Vanuatu wind shadow and a potentially longer course further east. Another tough couple of days in front of us but we’re all excited for the opportunities ahead. Confidence is high and given the compactness of the fleet there’s still everything to fight for, driven in large part by the desire to get Housty and Dave home to Auckland before anyone else!

Amory Ross
OBR, Team Alvimedica

So that's it, we're in the Southern Hemisphere.

We've got our smile back over these past two days, and our efforts have paid off.

Finally we are back in the podium positions on the rankings.

Yesterday we managed to pass SCA, this morning MAPFRE, we're quick, and that feels good.

Yesterday we made use of some relatively calmer conditions to send our Mr Fixit up to repair our mast track. After two hours of strenuous work at 25 metres above the boat, Kevin managed to glue 3 metres of mast track back on.

It was pretty full on for him, because at the height every small movement of the boat is amplified many times.

This evening we will take off the webbing strops and ratchets that held the glue bond to set, and we'll see whether or not we are able to take the first and second reefs. This really has to work, as we are without doubt going to need them before the end of this leg. For now we are sailing faster than the computer routing predictions, but 50 miles in front of us there is a massive barrier. Enormous clouds, lightning no doubt, and without question the hard and famous part of the Doldrums. So tonight is going to be critical.

Our easterly position might work out well for us, but just one cloud can either launch you to the front, to stop you totally for several hours.

So let's see...

Charles Caudrelier
Skipper, Dongfeng Race Team

You should have seen the sunset last night.

Chuny was trimming the traveller – his eyes fixed on the distance to go to the equator watching as they ticked down to 000. As he called out the numbers, the sky was changing every minute with pinks and reds dancing off the brilliant white thunderheads on the horizon. The water was purple and moving along at a brisk pace – we were speeding along at 14 knots, well ahead of our routing.

You could practically see the line in the water as we crossed the halfway point between the north and south poles for the third time this race. Everyone was quiet on deck… that is except for Alex who was busy dousing himself with buckets of water on the transom.

It had been his first time crossing the equator (a fact he’d neglected to tell us before the start of the leg – a fact that made King Neptune all the more furious) and following the earlier ceremony he was sporting a brand new, expertly crafted aerodynamic haircut. All smiles, he laughed, “It was a lot of fun, and everyone had a good laugh including me. You can’t take yourself too seriously! No bad days.”

After another turn of the sun, this morning we’re taking advantage of the good breeze and sailing the fastest angle south. The doldrums still haven’t settled on what they’ll look like in a few days – we’re on borrowed time.

In the flat, blue waters of the South Pacific, Ian is in good spirits. Poking his head on deck, he smiled, “Any morning you can wake up doing 17 knots and wear shorts on deck is a good morning.”

Looking towards the predicted drag race south in 3 days time however, he readied us for what lies ahead. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up with us and Dongfeng match racing the rest of the way to New Zealand.”

February 21, 2015
Matt Knighton
OBR, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

02-22-2015, 11:31 PM
OBR's need to mind where they put their fingers?

Prince of Whales
02-23-2015, 09:51 AM
Sam must have pissed off someone in a bad way.

The Volvos look big close up but must feel very small when the shit hits the fan.

02-23-2015, 11:36 AM
I don't think it was the fan... It was the galley sink.