October 10. On the eve of .
What a day today was at the marina of Alicante! A lot of familiar faces, a lot of press from around the world and a constant feeling that you are about to miss something. Perhaps, this season the work of the organizers of the regatta can be evaluated by A-plus. Like yesterday, the racing village gathered a huge number of visitors, who have something to do here from morning till late at night. Sponsors' pavilions are widely represented in the village and everyone offers entertainment: a makeup studio in the SCA pavilion, test drives of Volvo cars - cars, of course, although there are trucks here too, various simulators, games and competitions, children's area, bars and restaurants, the opportunity to rent a yacht, catamaran, boat or try a paddling (surfboard with paddle). It is impossible to manage everything in one day!
As for the sports part itself, there is less than a day before the start of the first phase of Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015. It will be about 6500 nautical miles and will take the route from Alicante (Spain) to Cape Town (South Africa). Today began with a press conference of skippers of all the teams, where they, of course, talked about the difficulties of preparing for this test, the last necessary details to be done before the start, the excitement (or, conversely, its complete absence - as admitted to all the skippers of MAPFRE team Iker Martinez), and answered questions from a large number of journalists who gathered at the VOR Museum.
Of course, a lot of attention was attracted to the women's team, the first one since 2001, performing in the regatta.
In addition to the powerful promotion of its products in the village and the presence of visual identity of the Swedish manufacturer of hygiene products - pink is now dominant in the marina - SCA team has a lot of interesting activities. Have you probably seen a copy of the Volvo Ocean 65 made by LEGO? Yesterday, for example, they donated 1000 trees to the City Council of Alicante, as SCA is also a manufacturer of wood products whose environmental care is known far beyond Sweden.
The weather conditions in Alicante are still difficult to call racing. In the morning, a light breeze blows - the marina is very calm and only blows a little in the afternoon. This year, in contrast to the previous series, the start of the regatta has been postponed to October (previously the teams started in November), which is likely to be largely due to the marketing component of the race. October is a traditionally warm month on the Andalusian coast and of course there are still many tourists in the city during warmer times. All teams are actively involved in media promotion, are present at events and admit that they are already a little tired of it and want to get into the race to do what they like.
To get wet, twist pens and sleep for 4 hours in shifts.
So, the start is set at 14:00 local time, tomorrow October 11. To begin with, all teams will go out into the Gulf of Alicante, where «they will make a triangle» in front of the spectators, bypassing the signs 5 times before heading towards the Atlantic. We asked the teams what they take with them for luck, and each has a different mascot. A plush purple dinosaur presented by Pokémon's son or the initials of one of the crew members' mother on board. Team Vestas, for example, is definitely brought good luck by the wind itself, which is at the heart of the sponsoring team. Today they were the first to participate in the Pro AM race, which involves both professional crew members and amateur yachtsmen invited on board.
The crew's navigators are preparing for a challenging start - conditions will be tactically difficult all the way through the Mediterranean Sea. Above the northern part of Europe, a low pressure zone now prevails, which in turn affects its southern part in the form of weak winds. Tomorrow, during the start, wind speeds are expected to be between 5 and 12 knots of southeast direction. Well, let's see.
October 11th. Let's go!
Today, October 11th, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet left Alicante to be applauded by the crowds and boats with many spectators. The organizers report that about 50 thousand people gathered to see the start of the first crossing.
Motor boats, superyachts, port barges, all kinds of boats filled with people to the limit, as well as scooters, people on the boards with oars and even one warship were watching the process.
To be the first at the start line, the yachts literally stretched each other and squeezed closer, and strict guards on ribs with whistles dispersed particularly brazen. The closest to the distance was the motorboat with the Brunel team fans. No wonder, because their favorites were the first after the rounding of several signs and under the universal horns and applause led the fleet of Volvo Ocean Race towards the Atlantic. After them waved goodbye to Abu Dhabi led by Ian Walker, whose yacht, by the way, lost its mast last season exactly on the section from Alicante to Cape Town. They were followed by Spanish MAPFRE athletes, who were best and loudest supported by local fans in the marina. Alvimedica and Dongfeng were in the middle, and then, despite the false start, followed not in a gentlemanly fashion overtook the girls from Vestas. The women's SCA crew, which confidently started second, after «the warm-up» in the bay to enter the course was the last. Some time after the start the positions changed radically: the Spaniards came forward on their bright red yacht. Behind them were Brunel and Alvimedica, followed by Team Vestas, who had a false start.
Rain and wind
forwardswere predicted to be 20 knots against 7-9 knots in the bay this afternoon. In the Volvo Ocean Race, the team that won the first pass is considered to be leading the rest of the race.
But Frank Camma broke the tradition last season by finishing last in the first leg but eventually winning the race with his Groupama team.
From now on, race tracking goes online: the Volvo Ocean Race website has a great online tracker with 3D visualization. With 6487 nautical miles claimed, this is the second longest stage of the 2014-2015 season. The yachts will have to walk almost to the shores of Brazil to catch the wind that will allow them to reach South Africa. The Equator area is a low-pressure zone dominated by passagewinds. They are accompanied by hurricanes, heavy rains and thunderstorms but can often be too calm, which also complicates movement. When teams reach the Atlantic, they will have to make a precise tactical decision - to go south or west - and in this section we will probably see the fleet in the most distant positions from each other. On the other side of the Atlantic, they will have to reach the Fernando di Noronha volcanic archipelago, which is about 350 km from the Brazilian coast. After that, another important tactical decision will be to go directly to South Africa or make a hook and circumvent St. Helena. Bypassing the island is usually faster,
but there is a chance to accelerate if you go directly and catch the high pressure zone.And then go ahead, to Cape Town.
Report prepared by the Matrioshka Sailing Agency team