Ian Roman Photography / Volvo Ocean Race

Telefonica claims qualifying race

Iker Martinez' team arrived back in Alicante just after dawn this morning

Sunday October 9th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: Spain

Team Telefónica, skippered by Olympic gold medallist Iker Martínez, came home first in the qualifying race at sunrise on Sunday, arriving back arriving back in Alicante at 05:45:24 GMT.

No points were at stake in the race, which was instead designed as an opportunity to test safety procedures, and Martínez stressed that finishing first meant nothing. "It was not a real race. We spent a lot of time doing those manoeuvres for the safety, and we could have won or lost on one of those. Every time we did those manoeuvres the positions would change."

On lining up against the fleet for the first time he simply said: "It looks like the difference between the boats won't be big."

Puma Ocean Racing powered by Berg Propulsion followed them in at 06:48:54, while Team Sanya were close to finishing behind them.

The race turned into north-south divide, with Telefónica, Puma and Sanya taking the southerly route around Ibiza and picking up much stronger winds.

Camper, Groupama and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing took the more direct northerly route, but found themselves becalmed for longer. Camper and Groupama 4 were still heading back towards Alicante mid-morning.

Abu Dhabi switched on their motor at one stage, with skipper Ian Walker satisifed the crew had completed all the required safety checks. They arrived back after Telefónica.

Puma skipper Ken Read shared his impressions: “A ton was accomplished and a lot was learned, especially when you’re thrown up against five other very similar boats for the first time. It was great to see the lineups and great to start beginning to guess at speed differences. But, at this point it is clearly still a guess.

“This weekend was also really good for our onboard communication, especially between Tom Addis and me. There were a lot of changing conditions that we had to stay on top of.

“We sailed well to get to Palma first, and that was really the race. Once we turned the corner, we put the spinnaker up for a while and then waited until it was time to test the emergency rudder. Everyone has a different configuration to actually put the emergency rudder onto the transom, and with our system we physically have to take our sails down while other teams have cassettes that allow them to leave all their sails up. We literally stopped for about a half hour to put it on and another 10 minutes to take it off, and most of the others kept moving and caught up and some passed us at that stage…which made it hard to get psyched up again to race. But, we did some smart things on the way back and got ourselves back into it.

“Overall, this was a good test for everybody – both for our team and for the Volvo organizers. We’ll now finalize work lists, and then everyone goes home for 10 days. It’s a much-needed break, and a lot of us haven’t seen our families in a while. Then, we’ll come back and it’s right into the Volvo Ocean Race. Fortunately, it’s something most of us have done before. We know how the game is played both on and off the water. So, we’ll get as much rest as possible, then jump into it.”

Home in third, Team Sanya, navigated by Aksel Magdahl, took the southerly route around Ibiza on the return leg back to Alicante and was rewarded the best of the breeze, along with Telefonica and Puma. The VOR's Chinese entry finished at 0915, three and a half hours after Telefonica.

Cameron Dunn, Watch Captain on Team Sanya, commented on the highs and lows of this qualifier race: “We are very pleased with this result, it was a tough and long race with not much sleep for any of us. We made a few errors tactically to start with and then got a few calls right later on but that’s all part of the learning curve. It was strange to race without Mike (Sanderson) on board but actually very good for the team and we learnt a lot – we probably made a few more mistakes that we would have made if he had been there, but that’s all part of the experience. A good result for Team Sanya.”

Aksel Magdahl, explained the tactical challenges as a navigator during the race: “There was certainly plenty of action and we had every type of condition thrown at us, just like a mini Volvo leg all in 36 hours! We had to make a call on which side to pass the Island of Ibiza and lost out on the way up, initially we gained but then we lost out. We then had a big thunderstorm, massive 30 knot squall and huge shifts so we had a bit of sorting out to do after that, but got going again. The choice to go south of Ibiza on the way back was the right one for sure, we could see the boats to the North parked up and headed south to benefit from better breeze. It was a great experience to do this race, good to shift from practice to race mode.”


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