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June 20, 2012

VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2011-12: LEG 8 — SHORT, FAST AND BRUTAL

VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2011-12

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Photo: Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France chasing Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker from the UK during the start of leg 6, from Itajai, Brazil, to Miami, USA, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)

VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2011-12

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Photo: The fleet of Volvo Open 70’s power away from the start line, in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)

VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2011-12

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Photo: Team Telefonica, skippered by Iker Martinez from Spain and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing fly their spinnakers as they jostle for first place in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)

VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2011-12

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Photo: Team Sanya, skippered by Mike Sanderson from New Zealand pull their spinnaker down as the fleet bunch up round the mark, during the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)

VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2011-12

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Photo: The fleet position themselves for the start of leg 7 from Miami, USA, to Lisbon, Portugal, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race)

VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2011-12

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Photo: The fleet split as they approach the 25 de Abril Bridge, in the Oeiras In-Port Race in Lisbon, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: PAUL TODD/Volvo Ocean Race)

VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2011-12

Photo: Leg 8 Finish - June 15, 2012: Groupama Sailing Team’s Thomas Coville from France, hugs his daughter on the dock after taking first place on leg 8, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images)

VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2011-12

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Photo: Leg 8 Finish - June 15, 2012: Race leaders Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France, finish first on leg 8, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images)

VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2011-12

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Photo: Leg 8 Finish - June 15, 2012: PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, skippered by Ken Read from the USA, in tough seas, on the approach to the finish of leg 8, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images)

VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2011-12

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Photo: Leg 8 Finish - June 15, 2012: PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, skippered by Ken Read from the USA, in tough seas, on the approach to the finish of leg 8, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images)

VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2011-12

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Photo: Leg 8 Finish - June 15, 2012: Race leaders Groupama Sailing Team, skippered by Franck Cammas from France, finish first on leg 8, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images)

VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2011-12

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Photo: Leg 8 Finish - June 15, 2012: CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, in rough weather, on the approach to the finish of leg 8, from Lisbon, Portugal, to Lorient, France, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images)

The Leg 8 race from Lisbon (Portugal) to Lorient (France) was short. From drifting in the Azores to racing into the eye of a storm where searing speeds and heartbreaking boat damage resulted, the shortest leg of the race yet didn’t come up short on drama.

Just shy of 2,000 miles, the penultimate leg first lured the teams in with a false sense of security with drifting conditions in the Azores High at the Sao Miguel Island turning mark.

The calm before the storm soon passed as the teams raced into an unavoidable gale-force low pressure system in the North Atlantic that made even the most experienced skipper an anxiety ridden insomniac.

“It’s hard as skipper sailing into a low pressure system that you know is going to be brutal from a safety standpoint,” PUMA skipper Ken Read said. “I think it was the anticipation of that storm that wears me out. Once you’re in it you can deal with it, but it’s that anticipation that’s not much fun.”

It was Telefonica who first notched a record speed, overtaking the 2011-12 race best of 553 nm set by CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand on the Leg 1 race from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. Soon enough, CAMPER were back on top with what would prove an unbeatable result of 565.84 nm.

CAMPER helmsman Rob Salthouse, competing in his third Volvo, said racing at such hair-raising speeds was exhilarating stuff, but crazy too. “I’m told you don’t have to be mad but it helps, and if anyone thought that was fun they’re mad,” he said. “It was dreadful. We were pushing man and boat to the limit for 48 hours. It was a great battle though, and that’s why we do this race. It’s why we keep coming back to this race - for the battle.”

“The last day and a half was really full on,” said Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker. “it was mentally hard knowing how hard to push. It’s so hard to back off in these boats. There’s just such a huge difference between backing off a little and going flat out.”

No one paid a higher price in the high-stakes penultimate leg than former overall race leader Team Telefonica. The Spanish team first struck trouble on June 14 when the team broke their starboard rudder in 25 knots of wind, losing 11 nautical miles on the fleet and dropping from first to fourth. The ever defiant crew surged back to the lead within hours before a second round of problems broke their replacement rudder and damaged the port rudder. As the team dropped off the pace while stabilising their damaged boat the reality sank in. “We have just seen any chance of us winning this round the world regatta slip away,” a heartbroken Martínez said just hours after the incident.

It hadn’t been smooth sailing for Groupama either. Just 48 hours from the finish, Groupama faced a potentially dangerous situation as they tried to reduce sail area in preparation for gale-force winds. The team’s mainsail got jammed at the top of the mast leaving bowman Brad Marsh to carry out some mid-sea heroics, climbing to the top of the 31-metre mast three times in winds of well over 20 knots and rough seas. After two hours of repairs, Marsh’s skills kept the French team in the race and they only lost out 20 miles to the fleet.

With Telefonica now in survival mode and no threat to the lead, Groupama had the break they needed, completing a heroic comeback that firmed their grip on the overall standings and realizing a dream homecoming to their base in Lorient. “It’s a very good feeling for sure,” Groupama skipper Franck Cammas said. “It’s a dream we had 10 months ago and now we have made it reality.”

CAMPER were second, followed by PUMA in third and Abu Dhabi fourth — all within the space of thee hours.

With just one short leg to Galway and two in-port races remaining Groupama are in a strong position to claim overall victory in their debut Volvo Ocean Race. PUMA skipper Ken Read even admitted that while his team certainly could come back and win, it would be tough. “I hope I’m wrong but I have a feeling we’ve seen the opportunity to win this race slipping away,” Read said. “That’s a big 10 points that they (Groupama) just amassed over us. Good for them, they keep sailing fast and smart and that’s a deadly combination.”

Overall Position after Leg 8

  1. Groupama sailing team
  2. PUMA Ocean Racing by BERG
  3. CAMPER with Emirates Team NZ
  4. Team Telefonica
  5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
  6. Team Sanya

The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 started on October 29 in Alicante, Spain and will finish in Galway, Ireland in July. The course of the race includes stopovers in Cape Town (South Africa), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Sanya (China), Auckland (New Zealand), Itajaí (Brazil), Miami (USA), Lisbon (Portugal) and Lorient (France). The 2011-12 race takes the teams over 39,000 nautical miles (45,000 miles or 72,000 kilometres).

|GlobalGiants.Com|


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Edited & Posted by Surender Hastir | 12:28 AM | Link to this Post


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