Telefonica - race winner?

Ian Roman Photography / Volvo Ocean Race
Neal McDonald and Horatio Carabelli discuss their Volvo Open 70
On Friday night the Iker Martinez-skippered Telefonica claimed the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. Ever since 1985, when L’Esprit d’Equipe won into Cape Town on handicap, the team that has come first in the opening leg of the Whitbread/Volvo Ocean Race has gone on to claim overall victory – so this initial win will be a most welcome one for the Spanish team. By rights Telefonica should be favourite to win this Volvo Ocean Race. While it is the second campaign for Puma, Telefonica is on to their third with Martinez taking over the reigns of Pedro Campos’ team from Bouwe Bekking this time. However the team is notorious for maintaining a low profile and despite pretty much seamlessly rolling into their third campaign after their last finished, they were one of the last to announce. Early recruits this time were skipper Iker Martinez, who came with his formidable 49er/Barcelona World Race co-skipper Xabi Fernandez. From the winning Ericsson 4 team last time (and before that Torben Grael’s Brasil 1) they plucked watch leader Joca Signorini and Horacio Carabelli. Carabelli was especially vital having sailed the last two races, but also a yacht designer by trade, he is not part of the sailing team and instead is their Technical Director, liaising between the team, Juan K’s design office in Valencia and the builders nearby at King Marine. Other early recruits were navigator Andrew Cape, who sailed with the Telefonica team’s ill-fated movistar in the race before last, the highly experienced Pepe Ribes, 470 gold medallist and ex-Alinghi strategist and Jordi Calafat, plus Britain’s own son Neal McDonald, setting out on his fifth Volvo Ocean Race (or sixth if you count Lawrie Smith’s Fortuna maxi, which barely made it beyond the Needles before dismasting in the 1993 race). McDonald says he started with