Welcome to Dock Talk – your weekly round up of everything Volvo Ocean Race. Consider this your all-access, backstage pass to all the action, and a way to keep up with the teams as they make preparations for the 83,000km marathon that awaits.
After a hardcore Leg Zero pre-race qualifying series, the sailors have been enjoying a well-earned break onshore – a chance to recharge minds, rest muscles and ring out socks.
Now they’re back to work – and with just 50 days to go until the start of the 2017-18 edition, there’s plenty for them to get their teeth stuck into before the start of the Prologue race from Lisbon to Alicante on 8 October 2017.
“Our focus is not on what we are giving, but on what we will get out of this.” - Bruno Dubois
A second place finish definitely earned Dongfeng Race Team some wind down time following on from Leg Zero – but in true Volvo Ocean Race style, it didn’t last long. The Chinese entry is currently in Sanxenxo, northern Spain for some two-boat testing with rivals MAPFRE.
It’s a funny thing, two-boat testing with your big rivals – a great opportunity to benchmark and improve your performance, with a risk of giving your preparation and secrets away. Either way, when the two pre-race faves go head to head, you know it’s going to be interesting.
The next two weeks will entail lots of practice, analysis and maybe even the odd bluff as the two teams try to figure out each other’s strengths and weaknesses ahead of the Prologue from Lisbon to Alicante which begins on 8 October 2017.
"It's good to have the team together in Lisbon these days. Not only the sailors but also the shore team with our engineers. We are developing every day as individuals and as a team." - Carlo Huisman
As the latest team to join the 2017-18 edition, there’s no time to waste for Team Brunel – and they’re working hard in Lisbon to catch up with the rest of the pack.
Morale is high in the Dutch camp for a couple of reasons – number one, they just got some new sails, which look awesome. Number two, skipper Bouwe Bekking and Argentinian crewmember Juanpa Marcos grabbed a win in the J-Class World Championships in Newport last week onboard Dutch boat Lionheart.
“Now everyone has to rest a week and then come back and continue thinking of ways to make the boat faster.” – Xabi Fernández
After their Leg Zero success, MAPFRE’s sailors took some breathing space – and a positive month continued in style for skipper Xabi who was declared Sailor of the Year and winner of the Tarras Gauda National Sailing prize. He’ll pick up his trophy at an event at the Monte Real Yacht Club – and he’ll be hoping to collect a second in The Hague next summer.
The Spanish team experienced a little bit more success on the water too, with Pablo Arrarte also grabbing himself a J-Class win sailing alongside Bekking and Marcos on Lionheart.
They're now back in Sanxenxo with Dongfeng Race Team making final preparations to go racing.
“You’re only as good as your last result” – Charlie Enright
The Vestas skipper loves this quote – and luckily for the blue boat, their last result was pretty impressive – a final stage win on Leg Zero.
But it’s not all about success on the water for the American-Danish flagged campaign – and that’s why Charlie, his fellow co-founder Mark Towill and Damian Foxall have been busy spreading 11th Hour Racing’s sustainability message at Land Rover BAR’s Tech Deck and Education Centre in Portsmouth, UK.
The chat was followed by a workshop to engage the audience, which was packed full of youngsters aged between 8 and 16. The best bit? Each young sailor took a plastic pledge to say ‘no’ to single-use plastic and straws. The future’s in good hands.
“We now have the confidence that we have the boat speed and that we can race with the others” – Dee Caffari
Resting has certainly not been on the agenda for Turn the Tide on Plastic since the end of Leg Zero, as they plant themselves in Cascais, Portugal, with the on-going crew selection process and relentless training programme well underway.
Dee Caffari is assembling a youth-orientated and mixed squad for the 2017-18 edition and has announced six new crewmembers in the last week: Italian Olympian Francesca Clapcich, Aussie Lucas Chapman, two Brits in Henry Bomby and Bleddyn Mon and a pair of Portuguese in Bernardo Freitas and Frederico Pinheiro de Melo.
“We went offshore to test our sail configurations and angles – it was a good session” – Luke Molloy
Practice, practice and practice again – that’s the motto for team AkzoNobel. The team, led by Simeon Tienpont, is back in Lisbon and working hard to get to grips with their brand new boat in a variety of conditions. The bonus? They’ve got new sails to play with.
Meanwhile, Brazilian sailor Martine Grael has been back on the 49er scene – switching the Volvo Ocean 65 to rip around Porto with her Olympic gold partner Kahena Kunze. The pair are second in the World Championship rankings going into the final day of racing on Saturday.
“I never lose – I either win, or I learn” – Conor McGregor
It’s all quiet in camp Scallywag as the Hong Kong entry focus on playing catch up with the rest of the fleet following a frustrating start to Volvo Ocean Race life – but this quote from Irish fighter Conor McGregor sums up Leg Zero for the Volvo Ocean Race newbies.
David Witt’s team didn’t quite get the Volvo Ocean Race start they’d wanted – but as the big man always says: 'that’s what Leg Zero was all about… finding the problems, and getting them fixed.'
After some extended training sessions in the Cascais sun, chins are up in the SHK crew – and spirits are high ahead of the Prologue. As SHK crewmember Tiger Mok pointed out in a conference call to excited young sailors back in Hong Kong earlier this week: “work hard... you don't want any regrets.”