Telefónicas head for the Atlantic
Completing the 2,000-mile offshore voyage is a requirement laid out by the race organisers, but it is also a great opportunity for the Telefónica team to test out the boats and prepare for the upcoming race, which starts on 4 October with the first inshore race in Alicante.
Before setting off for the Azores, Bouwe Bekking described the main route the pair of Telefónica boats would be taking, considering also the forecast for the next few days: “We’ll leave Alicante on course for the Gibraltar Strait. After crossing it we’ll be heading straight for the south of the island of Madeira, to then head to the north, going around the island. After that, we’ll leave the Atlantic behind us, and we’ll set course for the Mediterranean again, back to Alicante. We’ll probably cover more than 2,000 miles.”
It’s expected that Telefónica blue and Telefónica black will be sailing for some seven days, time enough for the team to carry out various tests, including sail testing, and it will also give the crews an opportunity to familiarise themselves with their two new second generation Volvo Open 70s. The plan is for the teams to carry out as much testing as possible: “The boats will sail together when the conditions are right for testing. If that’s not the case, and conditions aren’t favourable, the procedure will be to carry on sailing and to meet at a certain point later on,” explained Bekking.
Pepe Ribes, Telefónica’s bowman, agrees with Bouwe Bekking and points out that “the mail goal of the Telefónica team is to train the two boats together and do so much testing as possible. Finally we will see what happen with the forecast and whether the conditions will help us to achieve our aim or not.”
The weather forecast for the Telefónica teams is for some 10-15 knots of breeze before the Gibraltar Straits that should help the teams sail quickly out of the Med, while in the Atlantic more wind is expected.
11 crew will be onboard each boat. Among them are Sports and Technical Director Bouwe Bekking, Alicante-born Pepe Ribes, Jaime Arbones and Gonzalo Araujo from the Northern Spanish region of Galicia, as well as Jordi Calafat from Mallorca, Javier de la Plaza from Cantabria and South African Jonathan Swain and Britain’s Simon
Much preparation goes into a week of sailing, and just like when the teams are in the regatta there are lots of jobs to do beforehand. Jobs range from testing all of the equipment to make sure it’s in ‘ship-shape’, to making sure the kitchen’s kitted out with all of the right utensils and the cupboards are stocked with provisions.
Lighters, scouring pads, waterproof matches, torches, multi-purpose knives, and waterproof bags for personal items, wet-wipes, sleeping bags, toilet-paper, kitchen roll, vitamins and other objects, such as diving flippers and goggles, are just a few of the things that must be safely stored on board.
As usual, the food the crew will be enjoying over the next few days will be dehydrated. There will be lots of pasta, meat and rice, as well as cereals, powdered milk, nuts, coffee, tea, energy bars, sugar, soups, the odd chocolate bar, chocolate biscuits, as well as wholemeal ones… The food has been divided up into two-day ration bags that are only to be opened on the specified date, to ensure that the food will last for the whole sail.
Certain foodstuffs and materials which may go off or be affected by the damp and the water are vacuum wrapped, which also means they occupy less space and avoids them getting wet and going off. This is done even with the kitchen roll, which is plastic- vacuum wrapped roll by roll, or food, such as the small snack bags and energy bars which may be left, due to their size.
What’s for sure is that it’s a great way to train for the ‘real’ race. These 2,000 miles will allow the crews to see whether all the equipment and material onboard is absolutely necessary, as well as giving them the chance to see how the food lasts for the journey and if any new calculations must be made.
This is a baptism of fire, which will enable the teams to draw some conclusions about how they are going to get to grips with the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-2009.