Friday, April 03, 2009

Volvo Ocean Race fleet ready for Rio In-Port Race

[Source: Volvo Ocean Race] The Volvo Ocean Race fleet returns to sea this weekend for the 'Light In-Port Race’ on Guanabara Bay, just off the Marina da Gloria in Rio de Janeiro.

Two races are scheduled on Saturday, beginning at 13:00 local time (16:00 GMT), and they will be scored as a series. The winner on the day will be awarded four scoring points towards the overall Volvo Ocean Race leaderboard.

A light to moderate sea breeze is forecast for Saturday afternoon, with conditions clearing, following what has been an overcast and wet week in Rio.

Torben Grael, the skipper on the overall race leader, Ericsson 4, is a man with plenty of experience on Guanabara Bay. The Brazilian Olympic medallist says it will be a tricky place to sail and he hopes to use his local knowledge to his advantage.

“It’s not an easy place to sail normally,” he said at a press conference on Friday. “It’s not a place with the same pattern every day. It looks like we’re going to have a sea breeze which is the best we can have for the race here. The rain is going to clear up and we’ll have perfect conditions for the race.”

Boat maintenance in the Rio de Janeiro haul out area after more than 40 days of sailing in Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Rio de Janeiro, 30 March 2009. Photo copyright Dave Kneale / Volvo Ocean Race

That’s good news as Ericsson 4 is scheduled to have a very special guest on board: Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, Duchess of Västergötland. She has been visiting the Volvo Ocean Race Village in Rio today, and will sail with Grael and his team, tomorrow.

Ken Read, the skipper of the il mostro, is the closest challenger to Ericsson 4. He said they’ll be looking to sail their own race, while acknowledging Torben is surely going to be feeling at home on the water here.

“We have to go and try to teach the master his own game,” he said. “It’s not easy sailing against somebody who’s sailed so much in this area. We’ll have one eye on them and one eye on trying to win a boat race.”

The 'Light In-Port Race in the Volvo Ocean Race’ also sees the return of Telefónica Black and Team Delta Lloyd, both of whom arrived in Rio by ship, missing the leg from Qingdao after suffering damage during Leg 4 of the race. Both teams are eager to make up for lost time.

“The ‘new’ Delta Lloyd has a new bow, a new mast, and a few new good sails too. We’ve spent two weeks testing everything and I think we’re ready for the in port and next leg,” said skipper Roberto Bermudez. The team has also added three new crew members, all with Volvo Ocean Race experience.

Similarly, Telefónica Black expects a boost for the in-port race from the addition of double Olympic Gold Medallist Luis Doreste, who will sail as tactician.

“It was disappointing to miss the leg, but now we are coming back,” said skipper Fernando Echavarri. “I think the boat is healthy now and we are trying – as always – will do our best.”



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