Friday, 22 June 2012

How the balance of the competition has changed

Telefónica’s skipper Iker Martinezat the finish of leg 7
(Credit: IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race)
With only one more leg to race, teams have started to look back at their mistakes and highlights. Would have, should have, could have?

Racing is about good preparation and the ability to learn from others as the competition evolves. 

Ideally you want to be the fastest boat going into the event, but more importantly to win the Volvo Ocean Race you have to be the fastest boat by the end of the event. 

Full potential
Telefónica has learned this lesson all too well. They dominated the early stages of the race, winning the opening three offshore legs and the In-Port Race in Cape Town. In contrast, the last boat to sail into Cape Town was Groupama with a lot to learn in a very short time.

Skipper of Telefónica Iker Martinez said the closeness of the competition had built leg by leg as the teams learned more and more about their boats, and how to sail them at their optimum performance.

“At the regatta’s halfway point all the boats reach their full potential,” he said. “At the start, we all have to learn about our boats and although each team prepares as much as they can, some have less time than others, so there are usually a lot of differences.

Best improver
“But at the halfway point, after so much time spent competing against each other, everyone has had the chance to learn about their boat and how to get the most out of it.

“We all learn from each other too, and so it always happens that around the middle of the regatta that it becomes very even.”

If there was a ‘Best Improver’ prize then Frank Cammas and his Groupama team would win it. They are overall leaders with 219 points on the board 23 points ahead of the next boat. 

Bouncing back
For sheer tenacity and ‘never say die’ attitude then Puma Ocean Racing must get a mention for slowly picking off the points to sit second overall, just five points ahead of Camper and Telefónica - tied on 191 points.

All the teams have suffered major damage that they’ve had to overcome. 

Bouncing back from a setback is the other trait that has shaped this edition of the race.  Some have done better then others.

Losing sleep
So, with one last offshore leg to race and more than its fair share of potential pitfalls and issues, Leg 9 can still upset the apple cart and with so much live streaming action to watch, I know a few race fans who will be getting less sleep than the sailors.

Saturday 30 June - Lorient In-Port Race
Sunday 1 July - Leg 9 Start - Lorient to Galway

Mark Covell

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