23 Sep 2005, 13:42UTC
"It was an eventful trip, characterised by rough conditions reminiscent of the famous Sydney-Hobart Race. We faced big waves and strong winds, but the boat rose to the challenge," said Bouwe Bekking, skipper of MOVISTAR, upon arrival in Wellington (New Zealand).
"The winds started to pick up immediately after leaving, building up to over 35 knots" - Bouwe Bekking
The boat has now completed 1,450 nautical miles of her maiden voyage. Since leaving the port of Newcastle (Australia) last week, the Spanish MOVISTAR Round the World Race team has come up against a tough meteorological agenda, increasing the difficulty of the initial training stages and testing.
"A finicky low pressure system approached differently than we'd hoped for, meaning that instead of sailing downwind we had to battle head on for 30 hours straight. Tacking with these winds and waves is not so enjoyable, as we have to move all the gear from side to side for maximum performance." Iker Martínez, offshore helmsman.
My view was that the route to Wellington was going to be relatively simple as the forecast was good, but immediately upon leaving Australia the wind started to pick up, reaching 35 knots, and averaging 30 knots, as the front travelled faster than all the models showed. The first couple of hours were really fun, as the wind was coming from behind, top boat speed so far 36 knots!" Bouwe Bekking
"For the team it was very satisfying to know that the boat and rig could handle these kinds of conditions without any structural problems, as we have "fallen" off some famously huge Tasmanian waves. We had a goal of testing the boat's resistance - but didn't expect we'd have to go through such a severe exam so early in the game." Bouwe Bekking
"I am very pleased with the atmosphere and chemistry of the team, and especially the way they withstood the hard and uncomfortable conditions in this first journey. Even for us sailors it normally takes a day or two to get into a routine. The first night on board was especially trying, with a strong front passage and very confused seas. " Bouwe Bekking
"We also had to withstand the wet, both on deck and below. Just what we wanted to prepare us for the competition that awaits us!" Iker Martinez
"Navigation from Australia to New Zealand is all open sea, the same route to be sailed in the third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06 in February 2006. Hitting a big fish is just one of the risks encountered in sailing through such waters.
"We collided with something underwater doing over 20 knots of boat speed. We think it was a big fish. We've had to double check the underside of the boat before continuing over to Rio de Janeiro." Bouwe Bekking
"During the race we'll have a 48 hour pit stop in Wellington and while we planned only to stay here 2 hours, we've had to stay in port for a few days to change the water maker, which stopped working en route to Wellington. The Easter holidays didn't help us in that sense. We also lifted the boat out of water to check out the effects of the underwater collision." Xabi Fernández, Trimmer.
The team will take advantage of the stay in Wellington to review all the systems and make an overall account of their first ocean journey.
"Although we didn't find the best sailing conditions, we have been able to cover 470 nautical miles in 24 hours, showing good speed." Andrew Cape, Navigator.
Pedro Campos, general manager of the team and inshore helmsman, is satisfied with the results of the strategy as planned months back. "In June last year we decided to carry out a major training session en route to Rio, pushing to the limits in the Tasmanian and Southern Pacific oceans, as well as during the voyage around the mystical Cape Horn. These training sessions will allow us valuable margins in manoeuvrability. The strategy is working perfectly: 1,500 nautical miles from setting out to sea and we have already tested the team and the boat under the most difficult conditions."
The next stage of training will take the MOVISTAR team to Rio de Janeiro, travelling round Cape Horn, a voyage totalling 6,700 miles.
Keep tuned in for further updates.