Camper ahead in practice race
The six teams, who for many months have been meticulously preparing their ocean racing yachts, will line up for real with the first chance to put points on the scoreboard in the 39,000 nautical mile race around the world.
The course for the in-port race will be set close to the Race Village and adjacent Postiguet Beach, to give crowds a grandstand view of the fast and furious action. On the eve of the Iberdrola In-Port Race it was the Emirates Team New Zealand crew on Camper who won today's practice in-port race, followed by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Puma, Groupama, Sanya and Telefónica.
The first of the 10 in-port races takes place one week before the boats set off on the first of nine ocean legs.
Sanya skipper Mike Sanderson is the only sailor competing this time to have previously led a team to victory in the Volvo Ocean Race. A late entry this time, Sanderson and his team will be racing a second generation boat and while the New Zealander is embracing the team's underdog position he is predicting a knife-edge contest: "The level of the teams in this race is exceptionally high. Never before has it been so hard to pick a favourite. We have an incredibly level playing field and it’s going to be an amazing race."
Having finished second in the last race, Puma skipper Ken Read is expected to mount another strong challenge: “This race often puts the sailors in the most miserable spot they could be on earth. You are either boiling hot or freezing cold and you are always wet, sleep deprived and hungry. Other than that it’s fantastic!”
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker commented: “Every time we go sailing we learn something new. Today’s course was perfect to practice our boat handling manoeuvres. This race has come round pretty quickly for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, but it’s a tremendous voyage for our team and for Abu Dhabi. The question I get asked all the time is ‘who do you think is going to win the race. For the first time in a few editions of the race, if you asked all the skippers that question you’d get different answers. Genuinely no-one has any idea. If we got ourselves up to a level where we could be considered on the same par as the likes of the great sailing teams like Groupama, Telefónica, Puma and Emirates Team New Zealand then we’ve already done a good job and hopefully we can go a lot further.”
Iker Martínez, skipper of Team Telefónica said: “As you saw today having more people out supporting you is great. It’s going to be an advantage for us. It’s also been an advantage for us to spend all this time at home before the race. We’ve been in Alicante almost one and a half months. To be a bit more relaxed has made us a bit more fresh I think. The In-Port Race is going to be the same for all of the teams. The course will be tough and it will make for a good race.”
Franck Cammas, skipper of Groupama added: “This race is the biggest challenge of my career. After the Jules Verne Trophy and sailing round the world alone, facing these guys is harder. We have to work on the inshore race, maybe it’s not a speciality for us. But it’s very exciting, I like this kind of race, and we will see what happens tomorrow.”
Camper skipper Chris Nicholson said : “We had a fair bit of good fortune at the start. On the plus side for us was our crew manoeuvres and general boat handling. We’ve been sailing for a while now so our guys, our shore crew, our structure are in good shape. It’s nice now to get down to the business end, go race an in-port and then start our off shore next week.”