Thursday, July 17, 2008

Telefonica VOR boats complete 2,000-mile qualifier

The Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09 Telefónica boats have returned to their Alicante bases following 8 days of sailing to complete the 2,000-mile qualifier, a requirement laid down by the Race organisers.

“It’s been a great baptism of fire for the boats and the crews, and it’s turned out to be a great test for us”, commented a satisfied Bouwe Bekking after reaching Alicante.

We’ve had eight days of offshore sailing, with both of the boats sailing out to the Gibraltar Straits. From thereon “Telefónica blue” and “Telefónica black” headed towards the Southeast of the island of Madeira, and just before reaching it they set course for Gibraltar again, and then finally back to the Telefónica team base in the Port of Alicante. Besides the last 3 days of the qualifier, the boats sailed together throughout, in a thrilling one-on-one.

Over this qualifying leg, the Telefónica crews have come across an array of conditions; from almost zero knots to 35 knots (around 65 km/hr), storms, rain, hail, sun, fog… in actual fact, the very best conditions for testing out the performance of the both boats in a variety of situations.

“The first three days were really good, especially day three, because we managed about 60 tests. We had good wind and the typical Atlantic waves and we really pushed it to make the most of the time we had during the qualifier. We’re really pleased with the boat, the distribution on deck, the interior… everything’s worked perfectly”, commented Spaniard Pepe Ribes, one of the bowmen once he was back on shore. The crews have carried out over 100 tests during this eight-day period. These tests provide vital information and data, which will now by analysed closely by the team.

For Swedish navigator Roger Nilson, this has also been a good opportunity to learn the whole routine onboard: "We have learnt a lot about the boat and also about living together on this boat. Some of the guys on board had not been sailing for so long so it has been very helpful for them. They have a real idea now about how life is while you are ocean racing: how to sleep, how to eat..."

Back on shore, the crewmembers have been undergoing the required medical checks, providing also blood and urine samples for testing. Also, they’ve all stepped onto physical trainer, Iñigo Losada’s scales to see what impact these days of ocean sailing has had on their bodyweight. Overall the weight differences have oscillated between zero and four kilos.

With this qualifier behind them, the Telefónica team is a step closer to the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09, and is now the second team to complete the 2,000-mile qualifier (the first was the Puma Team).

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