MAPFRE strengthens their leadership for In-Port Series in the Volvo Ocean Race
Saturday, November 4, 2017 7:30 AM
The Spanish team, skippered by Xabi Fernández, secures leadership of the In-port Races, with second place in Lisbon coupling their win in Alicante.
A great day of racing for MAPFRE in Lisbon yesterday, where the fleet of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 disputed the second in-port race. Having started the race behind, Xabi Fernández’s crew displayed an epic come-back in the last few laps, to finish in second place, and with less than a boat’s length from winning team Brunel; who were forced to fend off the Spanish challengers right until the end.
Climate conditions key in the mouth of the Tagus river
Earlier in the afternoon, the Race Committee postponed the race, waiting for wind conditions to pick up (from an initial 10-12 knots). The start gun finally sounded at 15:15h Spanish time, with MAPFRE close to the Committee boat on the start line, favouring the centre of the course on their first leg. The fleet set off as a tight-knit group and in very light winds, and the Spanish VO65 reached the first mark at the back in seventh place. Yet the team went on to make a gradual and exhilarating come-back.
With three laps still to race before the finish line, Xabi Fernández and his crew picked up on a favourable shift and a strong squall, to propel them to second place overall. MAPFRE saw their options clearly, and went all out to catch Bouwe Bekking’s team, who progressively felt the pressure of the Spanish boat.
MAPFRE continued to put full pressure on the Dutch boat throughout the last lap, and finally crossed the finish line under a boat’s length from Brunel. A brilliant result, which reflects the effort and hard-work of the crew, and on a particularly complicated day, with Cantabrian sailor, Ñeti Cuervas-Mons suffering an important fall during a manoeuvre, which was fortunately not serious.
The podium position in Lisbon along with the in-port victory in Alicante, secures leadership of the overall in-port scoreboard for the Spanish team, with two points advantage over Brunel and Dongfeng; even on points in second and third place.
In-port Race Lisbon. Overall classification
1. Team Brunel (NED)
2. MAPFRE (ESP), +0:08
3. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), +0:42
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), +1:38
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (USA), +1:47
6. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), +3:29
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (Naciones Unidas), +5:08
Overall classification In-port Series
1. MAPFRE (ESP), 13 points
2. Team Brunel (NED), 11 points
3. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), 11 points
4. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (USA), 8 points
5. Team AkzoNobel (NED), 6 points
6. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), 5 points
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (United Nations), 2 points
THEIR WORDS... THE QUOTES
Ñeti Cuervas-Mons, bowman and boat captain
The legs were too short for this size of boat, not even Optimist races are this short, and I think it is a little dangerous. But that is what we had, and it was the same for everyone. During a very tight manoeuvre I didn’t have time to get to windward of the headsail to lower it, and I received a strong blow on the back. A little ibuprofen and some ice on my head, and here I am. At the time I had the wind knocked out of me a little, but it was nothing serious, so I got straight back to lowering the sail and had a normal race. I will now have a check-up to make sure everything is in the right place (laughing).
Pablo Arrarte, watch captain and helmsman in the in-port race
We knew it was going to be a tough day, but maybe didn’t expect it to be quite as much as it was. The wind conditions were really shifty and variable, and what with the clouds coming in, and almost three knots of current, it was even trickier.
We tried to make a clean start, but it was just average because at the first mark we didn’t get in with them all, so were left behind the fleet. But there were four laps, and we knew that we we had to work hard to gradually recover, and that is what we did. Finally it all worked out well; we picked up the last shift in the right place, and a cloud that came with a lot of wind, so it all went well. There was a lot of stress, and many position changes, but we are happy because we are still in the game.
Joan Vila, navigator
We could see that the clouds were coming in, and might bring some shifty wind with them. Luck was with us, although we had to wait a while to find it (laughs). It was fabulous because suddenly it began to rain, and when the squall finished, we were nearly ahead of the whole fleet. We got the chance to make a come-back in the last leg.
In this race you can never predict anything, and you have to just take it step by step as it is happening, to see where the gusts are coming from. It is a difficult race to plan, you just have to take things as they come.
Támara Echegoyen, trimmer
It was an incredible race. We finished second but it was very tough, and a lot of things happened on board. After a few little problems with lines and some other things, we just kept sailing. Looking at the course, they have done a great job, because it was extremely variable. Some of the manoeuvres were madness because they were so extreme, with just a few seconds to organise ourselves. But our team worked amazingly well in all situations.
Sometimes it can be very stressful because situations change such a lot, and on board you also have to change the orders, but the team worked really well together, and that is what is most noticeable in these kind of races. We are really rounding out well as a team, and it is getting better by the day. It was a great result for MAPFRE and a really fun race. It is good to be able to enjoy these kind of races.
MAPFRE CREW FOR LISBON IN-PORT RACE
Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Joan Vila (ESP)
Pablo Arrarte (ESP)
Rob Greenhalgh (GBR)
Antonio "Ñeti" Cuervas-Mons (ESP)
Blair Tuke (NZL)
Willy Altadill (ESP)
Támara Echegoyen (ESP)
Sophie Ciszek (USA/AUS)
Ugo Fonollá (ESP). *OBR= on board reporter