Volvo Ocean Race 2017-2018 News Leg 1

Leg 1 Updates

10/22/17 Intensity and action as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet takes the Leg 1 start

Volvo Ocean Race 2017Dongfeng Race Team powered its way into an early lead on Sunday, pushing penalties on its two closest competitors, in hard-fought racing as the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 got underway.

Conditions couldn’t have been better for the start in Alicante, Spain on Sunday afternoon.

© Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race

The fleet of seven of the best sailing teams in the world started Leg 1, a 1,450 nautical mile sprint to Lisbon, Portugal in bright sunshine and a 15-20 knot Easterly breeze.

The bay off the Alicante sea front was crowded with hundreds of spectator boats, ringing a short inshore race course, before the fleet was free to fly off, downwind, towards Gibraltar.

They were treated to some of the most intense racing ever seen in the opening minutes of a Volvo Ocean Race. The highlight came on the approach to the final turning mark before leaving the bay, when Dongfeng Race Team came screaming in on a collision course with Team Brunel and MAPFRE, both of whom were forced into a quick gybe to avoid the right of way Chinese boat.

Separated by less than a meter at times, as they went through their manoeuvres, the on water Umpires judged neither Brunel nor MAPFRE had kept sufficiently clear and penalised both, pushing them back down the fleet.

“This is going to be such a close race, every meter counts,” Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier had said before the start. “We know we will be fighting all the way to the finish.”

After winning round one of the fight, Dongfeng then sped off with the lead, with Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Turn the Tide on Plastic in close pursuit. All three would thread their way through the spectator fleet, at times within an arm's length of the astonished guests, before finding a clear passage out to sea.

Before racing started, the intensity and drama played out dockside, with team AkzoNobel submitting its final crew list just ahead of the dockout time. The team has been in flux since it was announced one week ago that original skipper Simeon Tienpont had left the team and had been replaced by watch captain Brad Jackson.

But on Friday evening, Tienpont won an arbitration judgement allowing him to return to the team and just hours before start time, the team submitted an updated crew list with Tienpont leading a newly constituted squad. Jackson, as well as previous navigator Jules Salter, are not on the boat.

With the start behind them, the teams will settle into the routine of life at sea, as they begin the first leg of what will be a 45,000 nautical mile race around the planet. The intensity shown during the first hour of the first leg, when the fight was for every meter, demonstrates just how competitive this Volvo Ocean Race will be.

The ultimate test of these teams has started. 

Video: Leg 1 Start Highlights | Volvo Ocean Race

With the start behind them, the teams will settle into the routine of life at sea, as they begin the first leg of what will be a 45,000 nautical mile race around the planet. The intensity shown during the first hour of the first leg, when the fight was for every meter, demonstrates just how competitive this Volvo Ocean Race will be.


10/26/17 First In, First Out?

With the fleet needing to traverse an area of no wind before getting to the Porto Santo, the leaders are hoping to maintain their advantage through the wind drought...

On Vestas 11th Hour Racing, it's been a tense 12 hours overnight, as they've seen a hard-earned lead over the first 60 hours of the race get whittled away. But overnight, skipper Charlie Enright found solace in the 0100 UTC position report.

"Whoa! We gained back a bunch on everybody," he said, after downloading the position report. Watch the video.

"It's been tough watching the whole fleet come into us, even though we knew it was going to happen. Hopefully it's 'first in, first out'... Maybe we're seeing some of that right now."

After falling into a dead heat with MAPFRE, who have opted for a much more northern routing - hoping more speed will overcome the greatest distance required to get to Porto Santo (850nm+) - the Vestas crew is again adding to its lead. 

With 850nm to go to the finish, positions report:

1. Vestas 11th Hour Racing, USA/Denmark

2. MAPFRE, Spain, 6.29nm distance to leader

3. AkzoNobel, Netherlands 15nm dtl

4. DongFeng, China, 27nm dtl

5. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, Hong Kong, 28nm dtl

6. Team Brunel, Netherlands, 28.74nm dtl

7. Turn the Tide on Plastic, United Nations, 29.4 dtl


10/26/17 Update: 500+ nm to Go….

Speeds are up as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet left the island of Porto Santo to starboard early this morning and turned north, aiming towards the final mark of the course before the finishing line off Lisbon, Portugal.


Leg 01, Alicante to Lisbon, On board AkzoNobel. Photo by Konrad Frost/Volvo Ocean Race. 26 October, 2017

Vestas 11th Hour Racing, having survived a scare when a ballast tank hose failed, dumping 800 litres of water in the bilge, was first around and is now charging towards the new ‘virtual mark’ set yesterday, dubbed Porto Santo North.

Watch the video from Vestas 11th Hour Racing here

It’s nearly directly downwind, meaning the teams will be gybing towards the mark, but this part of Leg 1 is largely setting up as a speed contest.

MAPFRE isn’t making it easy on the leader. With a different sail configuration, the Spanish team has been able to match speed with the Vestas boat, while sailing a slightly more favourable direction towards the mark, making a gain of nearly 4-miles between the 07:00 and 13:00 UTC position reports.

Leg 1 – Position Report – Thursday 26 October (Day 5) – 13:00 UTC

1. Vestas 11th Hour Racing -- distance to finish – 572.0 nautical miles
2. MAPFRE + 12.2nm
3. team AkzoNobel +13.3
4. Dongfeng Race Team +22.9
5. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag +29.7
6. Team Brunel +32.7
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic +33.0

The teams are expected to finish Saturday afternoon.


Vestas 11th Hour Racing on top after Leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race

Vestas 11th Hour Racing have won Leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race, crossing the finish line in the River Tagus in Lisbon, Portugal, to complete the 1,650 nautical mile leg in light winds on Saturday afternoon.


Vestas 11th Hour Racing wins Leg 1 in Lisbon. 28 October, 2017. Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race

The win was a tremendous victory for American skipper Charlie Enright and his team, who earned 8 points for their efforts (including a one point 'bonus' for winning the leg).

It wasn't easy. The wind shut down on the final approach, and an early morning lead of 34-nautical miles over second-placed MAPFRE was soon whittled down to 10-miles. The finish line was in sight, but the current in the river was pushing the boat back out to sea in some of the lulls, so much so that the team considered anchoring.

But the crew on the Vestas boat held their nerve, tacking first up and then down, zigzagging towards the line, into agonisingly light headwinds, and finally securing victory with MAPFRE in turn just starting to slow down, still some 9-miles back.

“We have a long way to go certainly, but this was a good way to start,” said skipper Charlie Enright. “SiFi (navigator Simon Fisher) did a great job. He didn’t really make any missteps… But every (results) sked is nerve-wracking, especially when you’re stuck in a river going backwards!

Watch Vestas 11th Hour Racing win Leg 1

The winners weren’t the only team to have an excruciating finish experience. When MAPFRE was within 1.5 miles of the line, they too ran out of wind and had to watch Dongfeng Race Team rush into the river behind them. With only a small lead as a buffer, the tension for Spanish fans was rising fast.

But as Vestas did before them, the MAPFRE crew found a little zephyr of wind to finish 15-minutes ahead of the Chinese team.

“Very pleased with the result. It’s a solid start, exactly what we wanted. We’re very happy,” said Xabi Fernández, the skipper of MAPFRE immediately after finishing. “We have to say Vestas did very well early on and we didn’t see them again… But then we had a strong 12-hours after Gibraltar and we stepped it up there.”

The experience and desire of the MAPFRE crew was on full display in the 30+ knot winds they had pushing out of the Mediterranean on the second night. Fernández and his team put in more manoeuvres than the rest of fleet to stay in a narrow band of strong winds and emerged from the experience in the second place slot they would never relinquish.

Dongfeng Racing Team skipper Charles Caudrelier made an excellent recovery on Leg 1, needing to scratch and claw for every inch, after falling to the back of the fleet on the approach to Gibraltar. And fight they did, slowly reeling in the fleet and finally recovering to pass team AkzoNobel with only 220 miles to go, to complete the podium.

Leg 1 – Results – Saturday 28 October (Day 7)
1. Vestas 11th Hour Racing -- FINISHED -- 14:08.45 UTC
2. MAPFRE -- FINISHED -- 16:42.30 UTC
3. Dongfeng Race Team -- FINISHED -- 16:57:48 UTC
4. team AkzoNobel -- FINISHED -- 18:11:56 UTC
5. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag -- FINISHED -- 18:57:44 UTC
6. Team Brunel -- FINISHED -- 20:29:00 UTC
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic – FINISHED – 20:36:52 UTC

Website: http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/home.html

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