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MAPFRE arrive in Brazil and conclude one of the toughest legs in recent years

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MAPFRE arrive in Brazil and conclude one of the toughest legs in recent years
MAPFRE arrive in Brazil and conclude one of the toughest legs in recent years

After an incredibly tough leg, on Sunday 8th April, MAPFRE finished leg seven of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, in fifth place, after 21 days, 6 hours, 59 minutes and 9 seconds of sailing, in one of the most demanding legs in recent history. The most extreme conditions of the Southern Ocean, with intense and continuous storms, huge waves, extremely low temperatures, and the tragic loss of John Fisher, crew member of the Scallywag team, mark the 7600-mile leg; a difficult one to forget.

Such were the words of Galician sailor and Olympic Champion Támara Echegoyen, who in this leg has become the first Spanish woman to round Cape Horn in the Volvo Ocean Race,

“The terrible news of the loss of John Fisher, made a deep impression on all the teams, and particularly on MAPFRE. The last few weeks have been really hard, because you are out on a boat, in the middle of the ocean, and you can’t get away from it.”

“We had endless days of continuous squalls, and three particularly large storms. Normally you get one and then it passes through, and things quieten down a little, but this time it was non-stop all through the Southern Ocean, storm after storm, without a rest. Really strong winds, and squalls. The truth is, it has been pretty intense and extremely hard. On the one hand it was fun, but on the other, tough,” explained Pablo Arrarte, watch captain on MAPFRE.

“When you have a problem on the third or fourth day, you already compromise the whole race, but I think we managed the situation as best as we could, and were racing right up until Cape Horn. Then the main sail split in half, and from then on, there was little we could do,” added skipper Xabi Fernández, on arrival in Brazil.

After a slow approach to the finish line in the last few miles due to a drop in wind conditions, the team’s family and members of the general public came out to welcome the Spanish team (who had been sailing with rationing in place for both food and fuel in the last few days), into Brazil.

“The first thing I wanted to do on arrival was to see the whole team again,” explained Támara Echegoyen. “There are nine sailors, but the team is really big, and in the end we miss them all. They are always waiting for us at the start line with their encouragement and to give us a hug, and that was the first thing I did. Then of course what you are always looking forward to is that tasty meal that you can eat calmly, and on a flat surface, without the heel of the boat, and without rushing or anything. Just to be able to enjoy this unique moment, happening right now.”

It is now time for the team to rest and look forwards. In second place overall on the general scoreboard, just one point from the new leaders Dongfeng, there are still four legs to complete in the fight for the coveted trophy of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18.

“We are really happy to finally be on shore. Happy, and also wanting to prepare the next leg and continue onwards and upwards. Nothing has been lost, we are second and just a point from leading ,so we have to keep fighting,” concluded Arrarte.

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