Qualifying Complete for Volvo Ocean Race
Published on August 16th, 2017
(August 16, 2017) – Persistent light winds in the fourth and final race of the Leg Zero qualifying series for the seven Volvo Ocean Race teams forced the shortening of the course today, stopping racing at 0430 UTC with Vestas 11th Hour Racing winning the stage.
The slow forecast for the 770 nm race from St Malo, France to Lisbon, Portugal was anticipated, and closing this non-scoring series will now allow the teams to continue with their preparation in advance of the October 22 start of the 20178-18 race.
Fast-improving Vestas 11th Hour Racing took the stage win with the shortest Distance to Finish at 0430 UTC. team AkzoNobel were second, and third place in the stage was enough for MAPFRE to seal overall victory.
“I think it was a good decision (to shorten the stage) because this Leg Zero was already becoming quite long,” said MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernández. “It’s been very interesting. We’ve done a lot of training over the winter and I think we’ve seen that we sail very well.”
The decision to call a halt to the racing came late last night as the stage had become a drifting contest, with the teams making a series of expensive gybes in a bid to find some wind, and latest ETAs predicting that the boats would not reach Lisbon until well into Thursday (Aug 16)… a day later than planned.
“Preparation time for the Volvo Ocean Race is at a real premium and we have to make sure the teams are using that time in the best way to get ready,” said Race Director Phil Lawrence, who had already taken the decision to split the race into two parts because of the lack of wind on the first day of racing.
No actual points are at stake on Leg Zero, which was introduced as a means to give the teams crucial time on the water in racing conditions before the Volvo Ocean Race itself begins in October.
At 1900 UTC yesterday, speeds for the Volvo Ocean 65s on the final stage were around 5 knots, with all but Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag just off Cape Finisterre. After being informed of the decision to cut short racing, the teams had about eight hours to adjust their strategy.
By 0100 UTC today, the teams were making slow progress down the north western coast of Spain in isolated pockets of breeze ranging from 2-6 knots from a southerly direction.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing and MAPFRE were at the head of the pack before team AkzoNobel started to advance, sailing slightly to the west and managing to avoid the pocket of light airs affecting their rivals. On a difficult and frustrating night for the teams, Vestas 11th Hour Racing did just enough to hold on and finish Leg Zero on a high note.
“There may never be another one quite like that, but we’ll take it,” said skipper Charlie Enright. “We’ve been improving every day we spend on the boat together and it’s nice to see that improvement manifest itself in the form of a win. We still have a lot to work on but it gives us confidence in the process as we move forward.”
Leg Zero, stage four rankings
1. Vestas 11th Hour Racing
2. team AkzoNobel
4. Dongfeng Race Team
5. Turn the Tide on Plastic
6. Team Brunel
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag
Leg Zero, overall final rankings
1. MAPFRE 29 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team 24
3. Team Brunel 23
4. team AkzoNobel 22
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing 20
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic 13
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 9
The seven teams in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race had to 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)
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.
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