With just one week to go before the beginning of the Assembly Period – when all of the boats will be lifted out of the water at the Boatyard in Lisbon – the Volvo Ocean Race teams are squeezing as many miles out of their boats as possible.
"You need to trust each other, it's a game – but if you don't play, you both lose" – Charles Caudrelier, Dongfeng Race Team
The Chinese team have just started their second week of two-boat testing alongside MAPFRE in Sanxenxo, Spain – and things are starting to shape up after some long inshore training days.
At the weekend, the two pre-race favourites ventured offshore for a 12 hour race – and then did battle in the Regatta Rey Juan Carlos. The pair faced off in three races on Saturday, with the Spanish team taking victory in the first and third, and Dongfeng grabbing a win in the second. One thing's for sure, it's going to be a close battle around the world for these two!
"We need to see how the first leg goes and we’ll get an idea quickly of which teams are going to be the strongest – but anything can happen during the race" – Louis Sinclair, MAPFRE
A big week for the Spanish team, who formally presented their squad for the 2017-18 edition at Real Club Náutico de Sanxenxo in front of Spain's former King Juan Carlos I and Princess Elena.
Skipper Xabi confirmed 10 sailors he feels can lift the trophy for the first time in the nation's history – and even managed to sneak in a last-minute addition in the form of Oracle Team USA grinder Louis Sinclair.
The ex-Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing sailor was known as the strongest sailor at the America's Cup – and those guns will come in useful as the Spanish team heads down for three times more Southern Ocean miles than in recent editions.
"Training with another boat nearby always raises the intensity on board" – Brad Jackson, team AkzoNobel
With precious few days left until the Prologue stage begins on 8 October, team AkzoNobel have been eyeing up MAPFRE and Dongfeng Race Team’s progress and they’ve decided that it’s a good idea to partner up with Vestas 11th Hour Racing to try a bit of two-boat testing themselves.
The team announced Bermudan Emily Nagel on Thursday – and although she's no stranger to the crew having completed Leg Zero, she's delighted to have her place in the 2017-18 edition confirmed.
“I didn’t think this would happen so quickly, but when I got this chance I grabbed it with both hands,” she said. “It’s been daunting, trialling with a team like this one – so nerve-wracking to be always thinking that one major mess-up could lose me my place," she said.
“Now I’m unbelievably proud I've made it and I'm excited to be full-time with the team, I can’t wait for the race to start."
“I'm confident we'll be more and more competitive by the day” – Charlie Enright, Vestas 11th Hour Racing
The Vestas crew are back in Lisbon – and work continues for the blue boat, who are lining up against team AkzoNobel for some boat on boat action. It was skipper Charlie's 32nd birthday on Sunday, but there's no rest ahead of race start – and the guys have disappeared for an offshore drill.
Navigator Simon Fisher has been off racing biggers boats as part of the Galateia crew in the Maxi Yacht Cup in Porto, and Danish Olympian Jena Mai Hansen joins up with her team after grabbing a number one title at the 2017 International 49er and RX World Championships.
Hansen and partner Katja Iverson faced off against fellow Volvo Ocean Racer and team AkzoNobel crew member Martine Grael with partner Kahena Kunze for the second time, following on from the Rio 2016 Olympics where they were defeated after their boat capsized.
“The team is taking shape.” – Dee Caffari, Turn the Tide on Plastic
Dee Caffari’s past couple of weeks has been a string of announcements. With further additions to her crew, the most recent being Bianca Cook and Annalise Murphy, Dee’s not far from finalising the crew that will help see Turn the Tide on Plastic sail through 2017-18.
The Kiwi and the Irish Olympic hero makes 10 crewmembers for the eye-catching boat – and with a few more sailors to come over the next fortnight, it's exciting times for fans of the UN-backed campaign.
“It’s good to be back on board for the second time and see the improvement of the team already compared to Leg Zero. Can’t wait to get the race started” – Peter Burling, Team Brunel
It’s full steam ahead for Team Brunel, and rumour has it that we could see a couple of crew announcements over the next couple of days. Meanwhile, it sounds like Pete is ready to race. He's been back in Lisbon tuning up with his new teammates, and with a chance of becoming the first sailor in history to win the Triple Crown of the Olympics, the America's Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race, we're not surprised he's crossing off the days to race start. Only his best mate and long-time sailing partner Blair Tuke stands in his way!
“Cascais is treating us well! We are almost race ready!" – Sun Hung Kai Scallywag
It's been quiet in the Scallywag camp as the sailors have been holed up in Portugal, getting their heads into their new racing boat/home for the next nine months. According to their social media, it's going well – and they're taking big steps to the start line. With cards close to their chests, it's going to be interesting as the teams line up for the Prologue race in just under a month.
“We’re putting something together that is going to inspire the sailors, inspire the people who are watching the sport, and put us back at the pinnacle” – Richard Mason, Volvo Ocean Race
Big things are coming in the future of the Volvo Ocean Race – and last week saw the reveal of the mockup of the next-generation boat in Lisbon. Four-time veteran Richard Mason has been down to check it out, and thinks that the next boat will be incredibly challenging for the sailors to control. Don't miss his first look at the design!
Meanwhile, in Alicante, the first structures of the Race Village, which opens on 11 October (exactly one month today), have been built – and it's all becoming very real! Excitement is in the air!