Groupama claims the UAE dash
Franck Cammas' Groupama VO70 today secured their first win in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race when they won 98 mile long 'leg 2B' from Sharjah in the UAE southwest down to race's Middle Eastern stopover in Abu Dhabi.
The race got underway at 0530 GMT in choppy seas and winds of 15-25 knots. From the outset Telefónica led the five VO70s offshore, however the leg ultimately turned into a match race/drag race between Groupama and the Spanish VO70. Groupama nosed into the lead 10 miles short of the finish on the final leg back into the UAE coast. They finished at 12:22:09 UTC to claim the win over their Spanish rival by just 52 seconds.
While Groupama claimed six points for their win, Telefonica's second place was enough to give the Spanish team the overall win for leg two, following their equally narrow victory over Camper on leg 2A into the 'mystery port' in the Indian Ocean.
“We were very fast today,” commented Franck Cammas. “This morning we were a little worried about the repair. Now, I think we were so fast we will leave it. It was a very good day for us, good for our confidence. It doesn’t give a lot of points but it is an important win.”
Groupama watch captain Thomas Coville added: “It was a fabulous fight until the end. For me, that's what the Volvo Ocean Race is: never give up! We had a great confrontation in amazing conditions.”
Iker Martinez added: “We can’t be disappointed, we still have an advantage overall. We sailed well, but Groupama sailed very well and at the end they sailed better than us. All we can say is congratulations to the Groupama guys. This is their first victory so we are happy for them. In this fleet you have to sail well for the whole race. I'm very pleased for Groupama that they have won. I'm very pleased for us because we are in better shape than in Cape Town. Juan K boats are good in these conditions for sure, but we saw that Groupama was even better than us.”
Telefonica watch captain Neal McDonald said: “It was great sailing – good breeze, sunny day. Some of the nicest sailing I’ve done for a long time. Groupama did a great job in the reach and caught up with us. We managed to put a few blocking manoeuvres on them but then once we got round the last mark they slipped by, they made it look very easy. They did a great job.”
Camper picked up the final podium position in today to score four points, arriving 50 seconds ahead of Puma. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing were fifth, crossing the line at 12:32:21 UTC.
Camper skipper Chris Nicholson said: "That was the longest short race I've ever done. It was a disappointing result. In this race we don't really feel like we've hit our straps yet. Courses like today's don't really seem to suit us but we know we have strengths in other areas and we know we'll come good when we get those conditions."
Ken Read, skipper of PUMA Ocean Racing added: "I really didn't enjoy that race today. It was all about flat out boat speed and we weren't quick enough. All respect to the winners, but we just couldn't keep up. We have a lot of work to do. It was a great day to go sailing, I just wish we were a little quicker that’s all. You’ve got to give Groupama a lot of credit, once we started reaching they were fast. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and find out what’s going on. We are here to race and every time we go out on the water we’re looking to win. Today was a bit of a disappointment, I have to admit. Even though the boats are nearly identical, they must be doing things different to us. In the lighter stuff, like in the last leg, we put miles on them. Groupama are definitely good in the windy reaching, we are good in the lighter stuff. Today was their day.”
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker, speaking just before a firework reception for them and the other teams, said: “This obviously wasn't the result we wanted but we had a very tough time to get here. We broke the mast and at that point it didn't look we would get to Abu Dhabi. To arrive to this amazing reception is just fantastic.”
Abu Dhabi crewmember Adil Khalid, the first ever Emirati to compete in the race, added: “It’s a great day for Abu Dhabi and a great day for me. It's amazing to be back home and I can't believe all the people who have come out here. There's a long way to go in the race. Today was just not our day. It was very fast out there.”
The fleet will return to action on 13 January with the Etihad Airways In-Port Race. Leg 3, from Abu Dhabi to Sanya, China starts on 14 January.
Leg 2B results:
1. Groupama sailing team, 6 points, 12h32’21” UTC
2. Team Telefónica, 5 points, 12h23’01 UTC
3. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, 4 points, 12h27’48” UTC
4. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, 3 points, 12h28’38” UTC
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, 2 points, 12h32’21” UTC
|Boat||Skipper||Alicante||Leg 1||Cape Town||Leg 2||Tot|
|Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing||Ian Walker||6||0||3||10||19|
|Team Sanya||Mike Sanderson||3||0||1||0||4|
Photos: Ian Roman/Volvo Ocean Race on the water and on the dock and Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race in the air and at the podium