The Volvo Ocean Race is coming down to crunch time, and it’s a bit of a mathematical tongue twister trying to figure out what each team needs to do in order to secure the best shot at a first-place overall finish. Groupama has amassed quite the lead, and now PUMA are scrambling to catch up. Sailing Scuttlebutt perhaps summed it up best, and most understandably:
Groupama now holds a 23 point lead, and for any other team to now win, they will need the French to take a serious tumble. For PUMA to win,
they will need to win the final offshore leg to Galway and the two remaining In-Port Races. If they are to do this, Groupama must not finish
better than fourth in the offshore leg and no better than fifth in the In-Port Races. If Groupama finishes fifth in the offshore leg, PUMA wins if
the French finish no better than third in the In-Port Races.
Abu Dhabi, Telefonica, and Groupama all appealed to an international jury, petitioning them to allow the craning of their boats to fix structural problems. The Notice of Race specifically prohibits removal of boats from the water during the Lorient stopover, but all three teams asked the jury for dispensation due to their hardware issues. Unfortunately for the teams, the jury decided to assess a two-point penalty on any team who took their boats out of the water. The jury also decided that should Telefonica use two non-race approved rudders in any of the remaining in-port races or offshore legs, a one point penalty per scoring opportunity would be assessed.
Read’s Fight to the End
Meanwhile, Ken Read has pledged to fight to the end for the top podium spot. Now in his second Volvo Ocean Race, Read knows that the next series of points are incredibly crucial to his team’s success (see points detail above). It was again Sailing Scuttlebutt who had the info, with an interview with Read regarding the in-port racing series. PUMA has been extremely successful in the Volvo Ocean Race’s In-Port Race scheme, so Read is certainly poised to earn some points.
SAILING SCUTTLEBUTT: To what do you attribute your In-Port Race success?
KEN READ: I’m not sure. Definitely we spent a bit of time racing around the buoys with the boys but our Hanuman, Rambler, Mar Mostro experience in closed course racing was as much a team building exercise as anything. We have had our ups and downs around the buoys and I know we are driving our sponsors and fans nuts by not winning one yet. But with that said, we are the most consistent to date and that is all you can really ask for. There are two big ones left, though, and we have to nail these last two in order to have any chance at winning this thing.
SS: Groupama got away from you on Leg 8 (Lisbon to Lorient) when you really needed to beat them. Were you too conservative when the conditions got
KR: We simply had two bad scheds (note: a sched is 3 hours) with the wrong sail combination up. Once you go with a combination, you are pretty
stuck with it in 40 to 50 knots of breeze. We went with all our furling sails as we did in the Southern Ocean. Roller furling FRO (fractional
reacher) on the end of the sprit, roller furling #4, and a roller furling staysail. We furled and unfurled depending on the conditions. When the breeze was at its windiest, we chose to go with less reefs and the #4, and didn’t get as deep as the others. We had similar speeds, but were just too high with that combination. We saw the problem and got the FRO out and put reefs back in and gained a good chunk back, but it was too late to catch
Groupama and Camper.
SS: When you announced your intention to skipper the PUMA team in the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race, you noted how you had done a lifetime of buoy racing and were looking for some diversity. How do you feel about it now?
KR: After two laps of the planet…bring on Windward-Leeward racing again! Seriously, I think variety is the key to sailing. Around the Island
racing, short point to point racing, Triangles, Windward-Leewards, etc. We need to stay fresh and diversify always. Block Island Race Week has the
Around the Island Race to break up the week. There is no reason any regatta can’t throw in some new twists. And most likely it would bring another set
of winners to the podium when you do that. Spreading around trophies is key.
Disappointed Martinez Won’t Give Up
A disappointed Iker Martinez is disappointed after boat issues and comebacks by rival teams dashed their hopes of overall victory. It was a case of simply peaking too early; Telefonica seemed to reach their peak right off the bat, while rival teams were peaking just at the right time, when the points mattered most. Martinez gives a very truthful, down to earth interview on the Volvo Ocean Race’s website, which you can find here.