Neal McDonald on the Volvo Ocean Race

Photos: Maria Muina/Telefonica
Telefonica's watch captain on why the Spanish team is winning
With three leg wins under their belt and the first third of the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race race now completed, the Iker Martinez-skippered Telefonica is proving to be the class act in this, the team’s third attempt to win the fully crewed round the world race. Tomorrow action in the Volvo Ocean Race resumes with the in-port race off Sanya with the start of leg four to Auckland, New Zealand on Sunday. At 5,220 miles this takes the boats once again back across the Equator and into the Southern hemisphere and will be the longest leg the boats have sailed on their own bottoms since the first leg from Alicante to Cape Town. For the Telefonica sailing team, they have been fortunate to have a few days off and Watch Captain Neal McDonald managed to fly home to the south of France to spend time with wife Lisa (who skippered Amer Sport Two in the 2001-2 race) and their kids over half term. “It was nice to be cold for a change,” admits McDonald, who personally hasn’t been enjoying the sweltering heat that in particular featured on the last leg from the Maldives to Sanya, much of it spent sailing east at 5-10°N. Meanwhile Telefonica has been left in the hands of her capable shore crew, led by Horatio Carabelli, who in the last two races sailed with Torben Grael on Brasil 1 and then the winning Ericsson 4. “We have got a very very good shore crew, whom we have had for nearly three years – a long time,” says McDonald. “We did a lot of sailing in the old boat with this crew and a lot of the shore crew were with Telefonica Blue before. So we are very lucky. We have got some great guys and with Horatio in the lead