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MAPFRE second place in one of the closest finishes in the history of the Rolex Fastnet Race

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MAPFRE second place in one of the closest finishes in the history of the Rolex Fastnet Race
MAPFRE second place in one of the closest finishes in the history of the Rolex Fastnet Race

Just 56 seconds separate the Spanish boat from winning Chinese Donfeng Race Team, skippered by French sailor Charles Caudrelier

The arrival of the Rolex Fastnet Race in Plymouth couldn’t have been more thrilling. Yesterday morning, MAPFRE rounded the legendary Fastnet lighthouse on the south-east coast of Ireland, to begin a decisive downwind battle with the other leading VO65s, Dongfeng and Akzonobel, in the historic English regatta which set sail on Sunday from Cowes.

Over the course of the 605 mile route, MAPFRE led the fleet on several occasions, up to the final sprint, with a particularly intense head-to-head with the Chinese team, who finally whisked the victory by just 56 seconds ahead of MAPFRE.

“In the last 10 miles, Dongfeng passed us during a manoeuvre, with a squall and big gust which caught us out with a very large sail up. It’s a shame, but we are really happy with the race,” explained a clearly fatigued Xabi Fernández, the Basque skipper leading the Spanish team in the Volvo Ocean Race, due to start in Alicante on 22nd October.

The Rolex Fastnet Race was a first for Fernández, a true sailing veteran, with two Olympic medals, five round the world races, and two participations in the America’s Cup under his belt. Although as he nevertheless declared, “in spite of the fatigue I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Tomorrow at midday MAPFRE will continue their quest in the so-called Leg 0 of the Volvo Ocean Race, which takes the fleet from Plymouth to the French town of St. Malo.

Xabi Fernández (ESP)

The race was really tough, because as we know, in this type of regatta, two or two and a half days are always really intense. It is a complicated route along the south coast of England, as there are currents and wind shifts around every corner, and constant opportunities and danger. It was really, really close. The last 24 hours from the Fastnet to here were really good for us because we sailed very well downwind, and even led the fleet. In the last ten miles Dongfeng passed us during a manoeuvre with a squall and big gust, which caught us out with a very large sail up. It’s a shame, but we are really happy with the race.

Támara Echegoyen (ESP)

It was incredible. It is my first experience in an offshore race. Having all the boats so close to us for nearly three days of competition requires huge physical effort, but the team did a really good job, and we have proven that we can respond to different challenges as they appear. We can be really satisfied, even with the close finish against Dongfeng.

Blair Tuke (NZL)

It was super busy and really close the whole way. We are a bit disappointed not to win, but there are lots of great things as a team. It was pretty enjoyable and a lot of hard work.

There were lots of twists and turns, and we sailed a pretty good downwind from the rock back, and were in the lead with Dongfeng coming a little bit from behind. They managed to just pass us, and have beaten us by less than a minute, so it was a little bit tough at the end there. It is still very positive how we sailed at the end, and some of the stuff we did at the start. All in all it has been good for us especially considering it is a warm-up.

It is great to get a little bit more offshore, to get into the watch systems, sail changes and manoeuvres, the pressure, the angle… and just to get the boat in the right line. It was an enjoyable experience; we did a lot of things well, and some not, so we will debrief and work on it as we head into the race.

Racing in a one-design boat is damn close! You make one mistake and someone will pass you! You think you have been doing well for a while and then you look around and the other boats are still right there. Going round the world like this is going to be... all in all, great fun!

ROLEX FASTNET RACE 2017. VO65 OVERALL 

Dongfeng Race Team (CHN, Charles Caudrelier). 2 d 15 h 38 m 10 s

MAPFRE (ESP, Xabi Fernández) 2 d 15 h 39 m 06 s

Team Brunel (NED, Bouwe Bekking) 2 d 15 h 45 m 47 s

Team Akzonobel (NED, Simeon Tienpont). 2 d 15 h 52 m 40 s

Vestas 11th Hour Racing (USA, Charlie Enright). 2 d 16 h 09 m 11 s

Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG, David Witt). 2 d 16 h 13 m 53 s

Turn The Tide On Plastic (Dee Caffari). 2 d 16 h 17 m 32 s

KEY FACTS 
Finish line crossing: 4:19:06 BST
Time difference to the winner: 56 sec
Elapsed time: 2 d 15 h 39 m 06 s

MAPFRE CREW LIST IN THE LA ROLEX FASTNET RACE
1. Xabi Fernández (ESP). Skipper
2. Joan Vila (ESP). Navigator
3. Pablo Arrarte (ESP)
4. Rob Greenhalgh (GBR)
5. Ñeti Cuervas-Mons (ESP)
6. Támara Echegoyen (ESP)
7. Sophie Ciszek (USA/AUS)
8. Willy Altadill (ESP) Under 30 crew member
9. Blair Tuke (NZL) Under 30 crew member
10. Ugo Fonollá (ESP) OBR
 
Nr OF PARTICIPATIONS IN THE RACE PER SAILOR AFTER FINISHING THIS EDITION: 26
Xabi Fernández (ESP). 1
Joan Vila (ESP). 6
Pablo Arrarte (ESP). 2
Rob Greenhalgh (GBR). 6
Ñeti Cuervas-Mons (ESP). 2
Támara Echegoyen (ESP). 1
Sophie Ciszek (USA/AUS). 3
Willy Altadill (ESP). 3
Blair Tuke (NZL). 1
Ugo Fonollá (ESP). OBR 1