Team Telefonica in the Canaries
There are many things to try out and to learn from the boat ahead of the start, and training is not only confined to six hour daily sessions, but also 24-hour sessions. It is widely considered that this type of groundwork is key to obtaining good overall results in the fully crewed round the world race.
Based two weeks ago at the Pasito Blanco marina, on the south coast of Gran Canaria, the new Telefonica VO70 also made a 24-hour training exercise between the islands. A course of approximately 260 nautical miles from the Marina Rubicón, Lanzarote to the north of Gran Canaria, which Telefónica reached in just five hours, they then entered the channel between Gran Canaria and Tenerife, in search of the strog breeze that whips between the islands.
“We left with the trades, which were good this week, between 18 and 25 knots, then between the two islands we got 30-35 knots almost along the entire coast of Tenerife”, recounted Telefónica trimmer Xabi Fernández.
These conditions proved ideal for testing out different angles and sails, conditions they hadn't yet been able to train in to any extent to date: “For 60 miles we were really able to sail with that breeze, those waves, downwind, with the large spinnaker open... and really, it's the first time we've sailed with so much breeze for the spinnaker, and we are really happy, because it went well,” continued Fernández.
The return leg was somewhat less 'fun', upwind, the return passage taking 14 hours, also in 35 knots. Thankfully, the boat came out unscathed.
While certain sessions are designed to emulate the Volvo Ocean Race as closely as possible, it's true, as Fernández says, that “they are always different. In training you never reach the level of concentration you have during a regatta.”
Training involves lots of sail changes, on different points of sails and in different wind strengths. “For example, we do 20 minutes at full throttle," says Fernández. "Then, we change up for 20 minutes and all the time the navigator and the person analysing the data are taking notes and recording all of the information." Emphasis is placed on the areas of most interest, such as hard downwind.
The new Juan K-designed Telefónica is a completely different beast to the ones the Spanish team campaigned in last Volvo Ocean Race. “The features and performance are really impressive," says Fernandez. "This is another evolution, so it is also normal that it is faster than the others. It gives you the feeling you can push it more and the good thing is that we are getting some very decent conditions.”
While prior to their last campaign, the team was based in Alicante in the Med, training this time in the Canaries is making a difference.