Telefónica Wins First Leg

With the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race behind them, the six participating teams have seen it all on their way from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa–from record-breaking triumphs to heartbreaking damages.
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 Photo by Ian Roman

Photo by Ian Roman

The six teams participating in the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race are gearing up for the in-port race in Cape Town on December 10 after experiencing both record-breaking triumphs and heartbreaking damages during the race's first leg, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa.

Reaching Cape Town first was Team Telefónica with Spanish skipper Iker Martinez. The crew completed the leg in 21 days, five hours and 14 minutes–16 hours before the second place winner, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand. On November 23 CAMPER sailed at an average of 23.09 knots, bringing them further in one day than any other crew. As a result, the team won the leg-one honors in the IWC Speed Record Challenge. Groupama, who is now lodging protests against CAMPER over their boat’s forestay and rigging, finished third.

Three out of six teams were forced to retire from the first leg after suffering damages to their boats. The demise of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam occurred on the first night due to a broken checkstay. Within 24 hours, China’s Team Sanya suffered damages to the hull of their second-generation Volvo Open 70 Sanya Lan and were forced out of the leg. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by Berg’s Volvo 70 Mar Mostro’s mast failed 18 days into the first leg; at the time, the team was in second place.

Azzam and Sanya Lan were transported to Cape Town via container ship last week and the teams are working hard to prepare for the in-port race on December 10. Abu Dhabi re-stepped their mast and were able to begin training on December 5. Team Sanya's bow has also been repaired and skipper Mike Sanderson plans to have Sanya Lan in the water by December 6. PUMA are currently en route to Cape Town after being stranded on the remote island of Tristan da Cunha; they are due to arrive on the night of December 6. The PUMA crew remains hopeful despite the short amount of time they have to prepare for the next leg. PUMA MCM Amory Ross says, "Top of the morning work list: prep the new rig to be stepped midday and clean the boat – it looks like it’s been through hell. Then the new mast goes in, the boat gets re-splashed and we’re back in business! Just like it never happened, right? Exactly. Nothing short of a miracle."

The second leg of the VOR, from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi, begins on Sunday, December 11.

For updates on the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race, click here.

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