Eighth Volvo Ocean Race 2015: a hard start to the hard way

Eighth Volvo Ocean Race 2015: a hard start to the hard way

The Sunday day was full of surprises: the sour wind, the scorching sun in the midday haze and the strong currents of the Tagus River made the beginning of the eighth crossing from Lisbon to Lorijan difficult.
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The skippers faced a difficult task before going out to the open sea - they had to «return» to the city center from the marina suburb of Algesh, where the regatta was based, to pass under the bridge on April» «25th and, having circled 2 signs, to go towards Cascais and further to the ocean.

A giant statue of Jesus watched the agonizing attempts of seven yachts in the fleet to catch even the slightest breeze.

Commentators during the live broadcast most often repeated the words «code zero» and «nightmare for tactics». But what a beautiful picture for the audience! As if nature has deliberately tried to slow down the pace of the fleet, so that everyone could see the boats from the shore.

Before the start, a connoisseur of local waters Ian Walker predicted difficult conditions for the upcoming stage.

«All the time along the Portuguese coast we are waiting for a gentle breeze, but after passing the Spanish Cape Finisterre will start a real battle with 30 nodal winds - said the skipper team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. - We will face a lot of contrary wind, which we did not particularly faced this season's Volvo Ocean Race. This stage can be quite difficult, unlike most other transitions».

The yachts started in the wind towards the center of Lisbon. The MAPFRE team had an excellent start. It looks like the guys are still climbing after yesterday's success in the port race!

The Spaniards were followed by Alvimedica and Dongfeng Race at the first sign. The French skipper of the Chinese crew still had a smile on her face for the first hour, then she changed her gloom. After crossing the bridge, the wind is completely skippy, leaving the teams only to drift down the river.

It was important to catch the right combination of current and the minimum wind that was still present on the shores floating in the midday sun. Dongfeng Race team could not do it at all.

Iker Martinez was also nervous. After triumphant passage of the first sign MAPFRE got into the zone of windlessness and strong current and took» them «to the 3rd position. Dutch Team Brunel took the lead. The women's crew showed their tactical skills and knowledge of the water area and bypassed the second sign as the fourth. Team Vestas first shared the last place with the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, then, proving that the «wind means the world to them» («Wind - it means the world to us» - the slogan of the team), caught the coastal breeze and was able to bypass both the Chinese team and the girls.

The return trip to the wind looked a little more lively despite expectations: the yachts started to change their sails as they finally blew out.

Harsher sails marked G1 instead of G4 began to appear on the yachts, which meant a significant increase in the wind that the boats caught just after crossing the famous Lisbon Bridge on April»«25th .

The regatta has been going on for 8 months and there are only 2 stages ahead, the next stage of which - from Lisbon to French Lorient - is the shortest, 647 nautical miles. The yachts will follow the route along Portugal and then, circling the westernmost part of the mainland in the Spanish province of La Coruña, they will cross the Bay of Biscay.

Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, commented on today's start: «I am very pleased that after torturous manoeuvres in the river water area against the current in a light breeze, a good wind has risen. I can already see that the Vestas Wind team will fight and prove that they are worthy opponents. It will be interesting to watch them on this section. The Bay of Biscay will be a challenge and I am even glad I am not on the boat this time!»

Team Brunel is the first to disappear in Lisbon, Alvimedica and MAPFRE are fighting for the second place, Team Vestas and Abu Dhabi are catching up with them, while Team SCA and Dongfeng Race are closing in Tagus today.

The Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team remains the leader of the overall standings, but skipper Ian Walker prefers not even to look at the standings.

«I know that the other skippers still have a chance to outrun»us," he says. In addition to his closest rivals in terms of glasses - Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race - the Spanish MAPFRE is approaching the boat from Abu Dhabi, whose helm at this stage Iker Martínez lost to his childhood friend and colleague in Olympic classes and round the world, Habi Fernandez. A small change in the women's crew: instead of the famous Di Caffari, the nearest two sections of the regatta will be the Swiss yachtswoman Justine Mettro.

The fleet is expected in France after about 4 days. After a short break in Lorient, they will continue their route to The Hague, where they will stop for only 24 hours to make the final march to Gothenburg, where they will finish the round-the-world race tentatively on June 22-23.

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