Team Updates from Alicante: Groupama, Telefónica

Test sessions bring smiles to Telefónica

Telefónica’s newest Volvo Open 70 is being put through its paces at the team’s training base in Lanzarote. Iker Martínez and his team have been pushing their third-generation boat through six-hour sessions on a daily basis, as well as the occasional 24-hour stint. The training is a prime opportunity for the crew to run through a variety of situations and conditions, as well as utilising different sail combinations and angles.
Most recently, Telefónica set out on a 24-hour training exercise between the Canary Islands, sailing a 260nm route from Lanzarote’s Marina Rubicon to the northern-most part of the island of Gran Canaria. Having completed the first part of this course in just five hours, Telefónica then entered the channel between Gran Canaria and Tenerife.

Trimmer Xabi Fernandez seemed pleased with the strong trade winds, which were blowing between 18 and 25 knots. The winds then increased to 35 knots while sailing down the coast of Tenerife.

“For 60 miles we were really able to sail with that breeze, those waves, downwind, with the large spinnaker open… and really it’s the first time we’ve sailed with so much breeze for the spinnaker, and we are really happy because it went well,” he says.

But even experienced sailors like Fernandez can’t replicate every situation faced on the water. “They are always different and in training, you never reach the level of concentration you have during a regatta.” While the team tries to test the boat in various tricky situations, it is still important to focus on even the most common situations, like going hard downwind.

The boat alone isn’t enough to win legs and score points, though. The perfect complement to a highly advanced boat is a experienced and capable crew, of which there is no shortage on the Telefónica program. Skipper Martínez and Fernandez both are Olympic gold and silver medalists and neither are strangers to the Volvo Ocean Race. Martínez was co-skipper onboard Telefónica Blue, one of the 2008-2009 edition entries. Fernandez served as trimmer on that campaign, and Telefónica Blue finished third overall.

Come 29 October, the world will finally be able to see the Volvo Open 70s in action. When they do, they may realise that this Telefónica is very different from previous generations; even the crew notices. “The features and performance are really impressive,” says Fernandez.

Groupama comes home

Groupama Sailing Team came back to Lorient today at 4am after a week at sea on their 2000 nautical mile qualifier for the Volvo Ocean Race. The team’s attempt to complete their qualification for the race was anything but calm. Groupama 4’s crew had a hectic first few days on the way to their first waypoint off Lisbon and Cascais. Multiple sail changes kept the whole team on their toes and undoubtedly provided good practice for them on their new Volvo Open 70.
Media Crew Member Yann Riou has been reporting on the activities onboard and has realised that making the MCM comfortable obviously has not been a priority for the team in the past months. “My first issue is to find a place where I can have my things around me,” he explains.

The crew had a wet and wild leg towards the second waypoint in the North Atlantic, which they reached in the early hours of this morning but since then, Groupama 4 has been gloriously surfing her way back to Lorient.

“Total interior reorganisation was required at that point (second waypoint) to shift the weight back, as was a change of headsails,” said Yann. “Since then we’ve been surfing in downwind conditions, varying between 20 to 30 knots. This has very often lead to boat speeds of over 20 knots. Sheer delight!”

-sent via OfficialWinds (source: Volvo Ocean Race)