Team Telefónica are finally nearing the end of their post-race Tour of Spain and for helmsman Pablo Arrarte the penultimate stop at Santander could not have been more welcome.
Since completing the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway in July, members of the sailing and shore teams have sailed the Volvo Open 70 on a nationwide tour taking in places like Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca and Sanxenxo on the Atlantic coast in Galicia.
They arrived at the weekend in Santander, where Arrarte was born and still calls his home, even though he has hardly set foot there since getting involved in the Telefónica project far in advance of the start of the race in October 2011.
"I haven't really been back for two years," Arrarte said. "At best I managed to get back for a couple of days a month before the start of the Race, so this is just incredible.
"I can't describe what it feels like to be back home. It's wonderful to be back with my people, my family and my friends."
Arrarte, who also took part in the 2008-09 race on Telefónica Blue, was an ever-present this time, sailing every leg and every in-port race as Telefónica finished in fourth place.
Telefónica's Tour has given thousands of fans the chance to get a close-up view of the Volvo Open 70 that powered to victory in the first three legs of the 2011-12 race.
From Santander, the crew will set sail on August 31 for Bilbao -- the final stop on an incredible journey.
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