Paul Todd / Volvo Ocean Race

Preparing for the Itajai In-Port

Racing starts at 1700 UTC

Saturday April 21st 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: Brazil

The Volvo Ocean Race returns to the race track today for the DHL In-Port Race Itajaí, starting at the Brazilian stopover at 1700 UTC. 

The course for the DHL In-Port Race Itajaí has been set up close to shore to give then tens of thousands of fans expected to pack the Race Village and line the river banks an incredible view, even if early forecasts are for heavy rain and light, shifting winds.

Pos IP1 Leg1 IP2 Leg 2 IP3 Leg 3 IP4 Leg 4 IP5 Leg 5 Tot
  Alicante   Cape Town   Abu Dhabi   Sanya   Auckland    
Telefonica 1 30 6 29 2 27 6 20 1 25
Groupama 2 20 2 18 5 24 2 30 4 20
Camper 4 25 5 24 4 18 3 15 6 15
Puma 5 0 4 19 3 17 5 25 5 30
Abu Dhabi 9 0 3 10 6 14 4 10 2 0
Sanya 3 0 1 5 2 5 1 5 3 0

Following their victory on leg five, Puma has had the most time in port to prepare before racing resumes. "When the gun goes we'll be out there trying to beat everyone," said navigator Tom Addis. "But this inshore is going to give us quite a mixed up breeze, up and down, left and right, and in those conditions anyone can win."

Skipper Ken Read agreed: "Unfortunately we are going to have conditions that we haven't had yet this past week (while we've been sailing). Like any new venue it's a challenge but we've become fairly good at adapting to new challenges and conditions. You might see a couple of interesting moves, a couple of errors but the one who sails the best will win."

Puma is boosted by the return of their inshore tactician Kelvin Harrap, who has recovered from injury to replace his Leg 5 stand-in Thomas Johanson.

Like Abu Dhabi, overall race leaders Telefónica have two victories under their belts in the in-port race series, but conversely they have finished last in the other three. “The shore crew did great work to get the boat ready early so we could do three days of training while some of the other teams are rushing to be ready," said trimmer Xabi Fernández. "We have improved a lot and we are fully ready to go on Saturday and I really hope we have a good in-port race. We always think that to be in a podium position in the in-port race is important but up to now we have either won or been last. This time we will really fight for the podium."

Of today's In Port race skipper Iker Martinez said: "The forecast looks pretty light and when you have those conditions just to round the marks and get the spinnaker up and down is enough of a challenge. After seeing so many people when we arrived we could see something amazing over the weekend. I hope we get some breeze and show them something good."

So far Groupama is the only one of the top four teams not to have won an in-port race as yet, but bowman Brad Marsh said they had confidence in their new rig and were looking forward to a return to competition: "As a team the problem with the rig helped us get stronger. We lost a few points but we feel we still have the confidence and the momentum with us."

Camper won their first in-port win in Auckland, to the rousing cheers of their home fans, and the team are eager for more of the same after the damage they sustained in the Southern Ocean. They only arrived in Itajaí to take fourth place on Tuesday, but helmsman/trimmer Tony Rae promised it would be business as usual on Saturday: "We had to nail the in-port race in Auckland - we didn't have a choice. It was a pretty special day to pull that off and make it happen. It would be awesome to have another race like that here and get a few more points on the board. It's a matter of getting a good start, getting off the line well and going from there. We've slotted straight back into our routine here and we're switching straight back to racing mode again."

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing have faced a race against time just to be ready for Saturday's race after their boat, still in need of repair, only reached Itajaí on Thursday. The shore crew have refined their repair plan, which had been due to take 72 hours, meaning they stand a good chance of making the race and pursuing their new goal of taking the honorary prize for the best record in the in-port race series.

"When we started off on this campaign we had a goal to get in the top three which we knew would be tough given when we started," skipper Ian Walker said. "Now we have had to re-set that goal and say, let’s try and win the in-port series, let’s see if we can win a leg. We really want to be out there for the in-port race here. It’s something we are good at. We have won two of them and we really enjoy the sailing so we will be doing everything possible to make it to the start line."

As to the In-Port race Walker said: "From the forecast it's going to be quite light and directionally unstable so it's going to be a very difficult race."



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