A Test of Patience to Portugal

Published on August 14th, 2017

(August 14, 2017) – The Volvo Ocean Race fleet restarted today from the south coast of Brittany, intent to complete the four race Leg Zero qualifying series in advance of the October 22 start of the 20178-18 edition.

The final 770 nm race from St Malo, France to Lisbon, Portugal had been divided into two parts due to a light wind forecast. Following a 25 nm sprint yesterday, the fleet started today in the same order they finished, which returned MAPFRE and Vestas 11th Hour Racing to the lead.

The fleet began the day in 10kts of wind but quickly fell into a light wind zone and have been struggling to make progress all day. The forecast is for more wind to increase – but from the west.

It means the navigators have to strike a delicate balance of making miles down the track while positioning themselves to the west of the fleet in order to catch the new wind first, without falling into the calms along the way.

“If I had a magic wand right now, I’d wave it and put myself a bit more west!” said navigator Simon Fisher on Vestas 11th Hour Racing. “But you’ve got to use the wind you’ve got.”

Former Olympic sailor, Hannah Diamond on Vestas 11th Hour Racing is clearly taking to her new offshore environment with enthusiasm. “There’s not been a lot of wind… so we’re all up on the bow to keep the weight forward, and we’re enjoying watching the dolphins playing with the boat!”

Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag have pushed west early and are becalmed, losing miles to the rest of the fleet who have stayed in better wind for the moment. The new team is still discovering the nuances of their Volvo Ocean 65, and how different it is from their team’s other boat, a much more powerful 100-foot supermaxi.

“It’s painful,” admits Steve Hayles. “If we don’t start finding some speed soon, we are in a world of trouble.”

Respite comes with the new westerlies, expected to build to 10 knots at 2100 UTC – and that will turn to north-westerlies/northerlies that will allow the fleet to gybe in steady wind to Cape Finisterre and then down the Portuguese coast to the finish in Lisbon on Wednesday, August 16.

To track the fleet… click here.

Overall standings after 3 of 4 completed races in Leg Zero:
1. MAPFRE 23 points
2. Team Brunel 20
3. Dongfeng Race Team 19
4. team AkzoNobel 15
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing 12
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic 9
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 7

While an overall winner will be declared, no points will be carried forward to the Volvo Ocean Race itself, which starts on October 22 from Alicante, Spain.


The seven teams in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race must compete in four required qualification races, known as Leg Zero, to prepare for the October 22 start in Alicante, Spain.

Two legs combined with scheduled events:
• August 2: The immensely popular Round the Island Race, a 50-nautical mile sprint around the Isle of Wight.
• August 6: The famous 603 nm Rolex Fastnet Race featuring some of the hottest yachting hardware on the planet in a coastal race that has historically served up a hearty dose of danger – and a lot of stressed navigators.

Two legs just for the Volvo Open 65 teams:
• August 10: Plymouth, England to St Malo in France (125 nm)
• August 13: St Malo to Lisbon, Portugal (770 nm)

Overall Leg Zero standings after 3 of 4 races:
1. MAPFRE 23 points
2. Team Brunel 20
3. Dongfeng Race Team 19
4. Team AkzoNobel 15
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing 12
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic 9
7. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 7

NOTE: There remains the possibility for an 8th team to still enter. If this occurs, the Notice of Race has a provision to ensure qualification sailing at the direction of the race organizer occurs.

Race detailsRace routeFacebook

2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)

Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.

Source: Volvo Ocean Race

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