Telefonica ready for Saturday's in-port race in Singapore
[Source: Bouwe Bekking] After the Christmas break, the Volvo Ocean Race resumes competition tomorrow, Saturday, 10 January. The in-port race of Singapore will be the second race around the buoys since the start of the race in October last year. Bouwe Bekking's TELEFONICA BLUE were invincible in Alicante, taking two bullets, and now faces the next round of short-course racing standing second on the leaderboard after winning Leg 3 from India to Singapore.
Since arriving in Singapore on 22 December, Bouwe Bekking and the crew of TELEFONICA BLUE have enjoyed some well-deserved time off. Bouwe took the opportunity to disconnect from the sailing world with his wife and daughter: "The days off with my family are like winning the jackpot and I just love them. We had a nice break in Bali; way too short, but we knew that from the beginning."
While Bouwe and his ten crewmates were away from the boat, the shore team has been working hard carrying out a complete check of their VO70, even though the boat completed Leg 3 in good shape, as Bouwe remarks, "we didn't have any issues with our boat, but that said we still wanted a thorough check. The keel has been taken off, hydraulic rams out, rudders out, mast out and the entire boat stripped to zero, so plenty of work for the shore crew."
Telefonica Black in Friday's practice race. Singapore, 9 January 2009. Photo copyright Juerg Kaufmann
In Singapore, we've seen that some of the teams have had issues with the weight of their boats after the first 15,000 nautical miles of racing, but that's not the case for TELEFONICA BLUE. "We have been always cautious about weight", Bouwe explains. "When the race started we were on rule minimum, 13860 kg, and when we checked here we had increased by 30 kg. Most likely moisture and adding small items, so we're still well within rule maximum of 14,000 kg."
"The BLACK boat, though, started the race at the max number, and they have had to take some lead out of the bulb to stay within the maximum weight allowed. We know all the other teams were on max weight as well when the race started, so we assume that some have had to take weight out as well."
READY FOR THE FIGHT
After what we saw in Alicante, some may say TELEFONICA BLUE is comfortable racing around the buoys. Bouwe, who will call the tactics while Iker Martínez drives, like he did in the first in-port race, agrees, although this time there will be some differences compared to Alicante, which was the team's home for some months before the start of the race. "The racecourse looks to be much smaller than in Alicante, so the most important thing is to get around the course and to make sure the spinnaker comes down cleanly. It is not ideal, the course is very short, but it is the same for all the other boats. So, the key will be to sail carefully. We have the same two grinders from Alicante back onboard -Carlo Castellano and Federico Giovanelli-, so that is nice."
The two Telefonica yachts in Friday's practice race. Singapore, 9 January 2009. Photo copyright Juerg Kaufmann
For this in-port race, the weather forecast says the boats should expect a tough scenario, especially given the length of the racecourse. "It looks like it's going to be a windy day, so I think the team who makes the least mistakes will win. Speed is not so important, and we know all boats in the race are capable of winning if they sail well".
What is clear is that TELEFONICA BLUE will fight hard for the 4 points awarded to the winner of the in-port race. At this stage, Bouwe's team stands 4.5 points behind the leader in the overall. Ericsson 4 has 35 points ahead of TELEFONICA BLUE's 30.5. A good result in Singapore could mean closing the gap a little bit more.
After this weekend's in-port race, the teams will have another week before the restart of the main race on Saturday 16 January, when they set off on Leg 4 from Singapore to Qingdao, China. Bouwe is clear there will be plenty to do for TELEFONICA BLUE in the remaining days before facing yet another unknown leg, "we'll have one more day of sailing, a couple of days off and, then of course, we have to put all the gear and sails back onboard."
It all seems nice and simple. Load up the boat and off they go. Reality is quite different. What the crews have to face from the sound of the gun at the start until they cross the finish line in Qingdao has the makings of a nightmare: 2,500 nautical miles north, most of it upwind and going from 30ºC plus of Singapore to the around -10ºC of Qingdao...