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Displaying items by tag: Volvo Ocean Race

Damian Foxall's Groupama is limping towards a haven in Uruguay after being forced to suspend racing from the fifth leg after the mast broke with a second successive victory agonisingly close.

Groupama sailing team plan to construct a jury rig and resume racing to Itajaí after reaching Punta del Este at 0335 UTC on Thursday, 12 hours after dismasting.

Though devastated, French skipper Franck Cammas and his crew are keen to return to the racetrack as soon as practical as a podium finish remains well within reach.

While they are unlikely to return to pole position, with only about 600 nautical miles remaining to the finish, third place is likely as CAMPER continue repairs in Chile and the remainder of the fleet have retired.

The French team were leading the Leg 5 race to Itajaí, Brazil when their mast broke, level with the first spreader, about 10 metres above deck. The team suspended racing at 1542 UTC.

Groupama were 59 nautical miles from Punta del Este, and opted to motor to port. The team were considering shipping their spare mast from the Netherlands and stepping it in port, but this morning decided to continue under jury rig.

"We just lost the rig now, all the crew is safe. We are working to stabilise the rig on the boat. Not easy" - Groupama skipper Franck Cammas

Groupama's dismasting while in the lead earlier today leaves PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA) with only Telefonica (Iker Martínez/ESP) able to challenge them for the lead in the final stage of what has been an incredible Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajaí.

With 677 nautical miles to go to the finish line, Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) dismasted 60 nautical miles (nm) south of Punta del Este, the Uruguayan port that has hosted the Whitbread Race on three occasions.

The team held a narrow lead of about 2.2 nm over PUMA at the time and was sailing close-hauled on port tack, when the rig broke, level with the first spreader, about 10 metres above the deck.

"We just lost the rig now, all the crew is safe. We are working to stabilise the rig on the boat. Not easy," a desolate skipper Franck Cammas told Race HQ at the time.

"We suspend the race now and have a look at what doing. We are 59 miles to Punta del Este."

* Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing will ship their boat to Brazil and return to strength for the Itajaí In-Port Race after damage forced them to retire from Leg 5.

The team made the tough call not to attempt to complete the 6,700 nautical mile leg from Auckland to preserve the safety of the crew and stop further damage to their yacht Azzam. Skipper Ian Walker notified race officials of his team's retirement at 1000 UTC on Wednesday.

With 50-knot winds and 10-metre seas forecast at Cape Horn for the next four days, Walker said their decision was "the only logical option".

"As skipper my overriding responsibility is the safety of Azzam and her crew and this is always at the forefront of my mind," Walker said.

"The Southern Ocean is one part of the world you do not want to head out into with a yacht that is not 100 per cent.

"We have carefully reviewed all our options, spoken with our build teams and weather experts and this was the only logical choice available to us."

Abu Dhabi first discovered the damage to the mid section of the left side of Azzam's hull on March 29 while battling horrendous Southern Ocean conditions.

The crew carried out a daring mid-sea repair in 35 knots and four-metre seas, drilling 30 bolts through the hull to reinforce the damaged section.

Despite the team's heroics, it was decided the repair was not strong enough to take on the remaining 3,000 nm of the leg.

On April 4 the team arrived in Puerto Montt Chile.

* The CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand crew is confident of resuming racing in Leg 5 to Itajai over the weekend with repairs on the boat's damaged bow section expected to take three to four days in Puerto Montt. The team arrived in the Chilean port at 2100 local time on Tuesday night and the shore crew, led by Neil Cox, wasted no time in assessing the hull with a full ultrasound survey to check for no further unseen damage.

Skipper Chris Nicholson, competing in his fourth Volvo Ocean Race and no stranger to adversity, said his team was determined to reach Itajai in time to compete in the in-port race.

Shore crew manager Neil Cox said on Tuesday he was hopeful of a quickfire pit stop. "During the course of all this work our sailing team will be getting their heads around the remaining leg as well as any other boat detailing, and with all best intentions and a little luck we hope to be in Brazil and in a position to finish the leg and compete in the in-port race there," he said.

Two Boats Left Sailing

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad issued a statement yesterday expressing his concern at the continuing instances of boats suffering serious damage in the 2011-12 edition.

Frostad, who competed in the race four times himself, said it was not acceptable to have so many incidents of boats failing in a Volvo Ocean Race. Frostad said race organisers would continue to do everything possible to get the boats not currently sailing back in the race as soon as possible.

Text of statement, which was released after Groupama sailing team announced they had suffered a broken mast, leaving only two boats currently racing in Leg 5 from Auckland in New Zealand to Itajaí in Brazil:

"It's too early to conclude exactly why this has happened but we are obviously concerned about seeing so many incidents of damage to our boats both in this leg and in the race as a whole.

"It is not acceptable that in a race like this we have so many failures. It is not unusual for boats to suffer problems, and sailors and shore teams are used to having to deal with some issues with their boats, but this has been on a bigger scale than in the past.

"It's important that we don't leap to any conclusions about why these breakages have happened. Some of them are clearly not related. However, we will take the current issues into account as we make decisions on rules and technology we will be using in the future.

"We have already put in a lot of work, discussing with teams, designers and all other stakeholders about the boats and the rules we will use in the future, and we expect to be in a position to announce a decision on that before the end of the current race.

"For the time being, our focus continues to be on the safety of the sailors. We are doing everything we can to help Groupama, and the rest of the teams not currently sailing, get back in the race as soon as possible."

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - Has the Groupama sailing team adopted a new simplified watch system, keeping just one man on deck to handle the vessel - as demonstrated by Ireland's Damian Foxall in the video above?

Don't worry - it's just a prank for April Fool's Day yesterday!

The yacht and its full compliment of crew have rounded Cape Horn and are currently in overall second place as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet heads to Itajaí in Brazil on the fifth leg and longest passage of the race.

Groupama and PUMA are currently battling for first place on the leg, with Telefónica hot on their heels after making up 180 miles in just 36 hours with speeds near double those of the frontrunners.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#NAVAL SERVICE - Ireland could soon join the fight against Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, the Irish Independent reports.

Minister of State Fergus O'Dowd confirmed that the Department of Defence was considering sending a personnel detachment to assist the EU's naval mission in the area west of Africa.

The region has been blighted by pirate attacks on merchant vessels and pleasure cruisers for a number of years.

Most recently, as reported on, the situation prompted an interruption to the Volvo Ocean Race - with the six yachts shipped on a secret route to the United Arab Emirates under armed guard.

Ireland's potential contribution to the EU's Operation Atalanta is known as an autonomous vessel protection detachment (AVPD), and would be used to protect the likes of food aid ships from the World Food Programme that sail without a naval escort.

The Irish Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Navy

#VOLVO OCEAN RACE – Only those Passenger Vessels in possession of plying limits specifically listing Galway as a point of departure may operate during the Volvo Ocean Race finish in Galway according to a Marine Notice  published this week (dowloadable below) by the Marine Survey Office (MSO).

Owners of vessels normally located outside the Galway Bay region may operate during the event in the Galway Bay region, but they must have applied to the Chief Surveyor for, and been granted, a temporary change of operating plying limits.

The MSO expects the event will attract significant numbers, including a large fleet of spectator boats and sightseeing charter vessels to the area.

The full notice is available for download below.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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#VOLVO OCEAN RACE – The Government backed sailing yesterday when Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Marine Minister Simon Coveney hosted a press conference at Government Buildings to highlight plans to harness the opportunity for Irish business and tourism presented by the forthcoming finish of the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway. The race will finish there in July this year, and has a global audience of 2 billion people worldwide. It is expected the race will attract over 50,000 international visitors to Ireland this summer.

Galway previously hosted a stopover during the last race in 2009, and won the right to host the finish of this year's race over 81 competing cities around the world. This year's race is anticipated to yield about €65 million to the local and national economies.

Last week Enda O'Coineen, Chairman of the group bringing the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) to Galway attended last Saturday's Irish Sailing Association AGM  and believes we need to radically rethink how we spend our resources to develop the sport of sailing in Ireland. His comments are here.

The race festival will officially run from 30th June to 8th July in Galway.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - Red Arrow jets will not be returning to the skies over Galway Bay when it hosts the Volvo Ocean Race finale this summer, the Galway Sentinel reports.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) has turned down a request by event organisers to bring its aerobatic display to the City of the Tribes citing 'operational reasons'.

It is understood that the RAF is reducing the number of Red Arrows performances this year due to a shortage of pilots trained to do air displays.

The Red Arrows flyover was one of the highlights of Galway's 2009 hosting of the yacht race.

However, their proposed return was opposed by anti-war campaigners the Galway Alliance Against War, who issued a statement last week declaring the the RAF and another "war outfit" were lined up as entertainment for the race week.

The Galway Sentinel has more on the story HERE.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOLVOOCEANRACE – Inspite of being on the far side of the world and on his ninth voyage round the planet Groupama's only Irish crewmember Damian Foxall was ecstatic on Saturday as he and his team mates arrived victorious into Auckland into a crowd of 30,000, describing the win as a major thrill in his sailing career.

Foxall and the Groupama crew crossed the line at 10:33:47 UTC/23:33:47 local time, after 19 days, 15 hours and 35 minutes racing from Sanya China.

But in spite of the rapturous weekend celebrations the Groupama crew were back on the waterfront immediately to deal with damage to the bow of the yacht.

The French team have just four days to fix the damage, caused by constant slamming through eight metre waves which skipper Franck Cammas described as the worst conditions of the race so far.

Groupama build manager Pierre Tissier said his team must now work 24 hours a day to complete the repair in time for Friday’s Pro Am race.

“Our composite team will be at work 24 hours a day,” said Tissier after a night of solid work on the hull.

“We will do everything we can so that the boat takes part in the Pro-Am in good condition.

“It should be quite an easy fix. Right now we are still in the inspection phase, but it looks like it will be ok and quite quick.”

Despite a comfortable lead of around 100nm, Groupama men had a scare in the dying moments of the 5,220 nautical mile leg from Sanya to Auckland when they discovered more than a tonne of water in the bow as they raced down the coast of New Zealand.

Frantic bailing ensued and they went on to claim their first offshore victory of the race.

“The conditions we had to the north of the North Island were the worst we have seen in the entire race due to the sea state,” skipper Cammas said as he stepped off the dock.

No sooner had Groupama’s triumphant sailors stepped off the boat than the shore crew leapt into action, hauling Groupama 4 out of the water and immediately starting work on the damaged bow.

Tissier said the damage had been caused by two days of crashing through huge seas to the north of New Zealand – but also suspected something had hit the bow.
“The crew were crashing through seven to eight metres of crests with the wind on the nose.

“They were all very worried for the structure of the boat and were wondering if that might happen. We also think something hit the bow.”

A one-metre section of the bow was cut out to allow closer inspection of the damage.

“We have a zone under the collision bulkhead which has delaminated, and we are now in the process of repairing it,” Tissier said.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - Businesses in Galway "must not abuse their affiliation" with the Volvo Ocean Race when taking advantage of its visit to the city this summer, a meeting hosted by the organisers heard on Monday.

As the Galway Independent reports, Galway Chamber president Declan Dooley urged business community to ask what it can do to help the event, rather than expecting the event to do something for its business.

He added that it was “critically important” that businesses ensured the expected 600,000 visitors to Galway were treated with "friendly service" and not "ripped off".

Also at the meeting at the Meryck Hotel, Let’s Do It Global MD Micheline McNamara outlined plans for the the Global Village and Race Villages and explained how businesses could get involved.

She said: “We want to develop a business legacy, so that when the boats leave, there are trade relationships, and business relationships that stay on."

As previously reported on, organisers of the Volvo Ocean Race stopover this July have promised the event will be "bigger and better" than the previous visit in 2009.

The Galway Independent has more on the story HERE.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOLVO OCEAN RACE – The VOR fleet are battling squall after squall as they make their way south towards Auckland this evening.
 "There’s a lot of thunderstorm activity predicted down the track, we’ve certainly been having a few good storms of a night time and early morning the last couple of nights. I think we will see some pretty big gains and losses, and hopefully we need to be on the good side of a few of these ones to get back into this.

You just filmed us getting whacked by one of the little thunderstorms. It gets up to 35 knots and you don’t have time to change a jib, they move down quite fast. What you’ve got to do is bear away, go with it. It’s a matter of hanging on, hoping everything stays in one piece. We’re probably averaging about 24 knots now, We’re a little off course course, not too bad, and that’s good," Skipper Chris Nicholson.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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#VOLVO OCEAN RACE – The temperature is rising as Groupama lead the fleet across the equator and into the Southern Hemisphere's den of islands, currents and rapidly changing weather.

Leg 4 leaders Groupama sailing team crossed the equator at about 0710 UTG, shifting their focus firmly to the upcoming Doldrums.

Second placed PUMA are starting to sweat, with the approach to the Doldrums stirring up nightmare similarities to Leg 2, when they trailed only Groupama but Team Telefónica and CAMPER overtook the pair.

Bringing some relief to the crew is the knowledge that at 0630 UTC Team Telefónica had dropped from third to fourth, with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing edging ahead by just three nautical miles.

CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand remain fifth, followed by Sanya in sixth.

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG Media Crew Member Amory Ross said the team, trailing Groupama by just over 60 nm, was in search of redemption- - especially "given the eerie resemblance".

"Tom Addis (navigator) is happy with our easterly position and the time has come to see it pay its dividends,'' Ross reported.

"The guys to our west will either have to stay low and fast, a risky route taking them through the Solomon Islands, or they'll need to sheet in and sail far slower angles back up to our line, safely to the east of any geographic interference.

"Whatever they decide, our relative progress is less reliant on straight-line boat speed and more on sail management and boat handling, especially in the varied conditions."

Feeling the heat more than anyone is the most recent addition to fifth placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's newest crew member Paul Willcox, an equatorial virgin who is about to endure the wrath of King Neptune.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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