What a Difference Three Years Can Make

In the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race, once the fleet escaped the Med and headed south in the Atlantic toward the equator, the bunched fleet of ocean going 70-footers was not unlike so many J/24 races that PUMA skipper Ken Read had dominated. They jibed on every shift, working the offwind corridor toward the Canary Islands. The wind was up and the competition was close.

Funny what a difference three years can make. With the fleet on the first leg of the 2011-12 VOR from Alicante to Cape Town, here is a report from PUMA skipper Ken Read as he again leads the shoe company in this round the world adventure:
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(November 8, 2011; Day 4) – If you had told me that one third of the fleet would be at the dock, one third of the fleet would take a left and head down the African coast, and one third of the fleet would head due west in search of frontal breeze to get south on, I would have looked at you like you had six heads.

Unreal. Exactly what I didn’t think would happen. My guess was that six boats were going to sail around the world in a bunch.

Then CAMPER decided to come our way so the French are the lonely warriors heading the traditional trade route. Still pretty amazing. A split in the fleet with 39,500 miles to go!

I have to admit I like our spot but there is a long way to go to the Doldrums. In essence that is where we are all targeting – a spot to try and get through with the least light and crappy wind. That’s the key to the success of this leg.

Fortunately life on board is pretty much back to normal. Finally some much needed sleep and a little mending and the troops are good to go. Newcomers Rome Kirby and Amory Ross are both wondering if we will be going upwind all the way around the world. At this point the answer would have to be yes.

We are glued to the hip of our buddies on Telefonica. Heading west as quick as we can in a crummy sea state and ever changing breeze strengths. Not great sailing but at least we are moving today. — http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/-Unreal-start-for-Ken-Read/3910/news.html

Standings as of Wednesday, 09 November 2011, 01:02 UTC
1. Team Telefonica, 5884.6 nm Distance to Finish
2. Groupama Sailing Team, 1.1 nm Distance to Lead
3. PUMA Ocean Racing by BERG, 3.4 nm DTL
4. CAMPER with Emirates Team NZ, 18.3 nm DTL
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – Suspended Racing
Team Sanya – Retired, hull damage

Tracking/Standings: http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/racetracker/rdc.html
Video report: http://youtu.be/0GHzZSbmLXM

PIT ROW: Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is ahead of schedule in a race against time to replace its broken mast and return to racing Leg 1 of the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race. The team hopes to have hull repairs completed and their new mast stepped in time to restart on Wednesday. Under the rules, Abu Dhabi will be able to motor to the spot where they suspended racing. The light winds in the Atlantic combined with a promising forecast in the Med are expected to help the team close the gap on the fleet. — Full story:
http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/24-hour-goal-for-Abu-Dhabi-restart

CONGRATULATIONS: Not only is Team Telefonica leading the race, but onboard skipper Iker Martinez and Xabier Fernandez are currently celebrating a major award announcement. See below.

BACKGROUND: During the nine months of the Volvo Ocean Race, which starts in Alicante, Spain and concludes in Galway, Ireland, during early July 2012, six professional teams will sail over 39,000 nautical miles of the world’s most treacherous seas via Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland, around Cape Horn to Itajai, Miami, Lisbon, and Lorient. Teams accumulate points through nine distance legs and ten In-Port races. –
http://www.volvooceanrace.com