ALICANTE, Spain: Leg 0 of the Volvo Ocean Race served up drama galore including a man – and sail – overboard plus a surprise winner today in Team Vestas Wind to give a mouth-watering taste of things to come when the real event starts in just three under weeks.
The dress rehearsal, which does not count towards Volvo Ocean Race points, climaxed with a thrilling finish just before day-break on Sunday morning with five of the seven boats arriving within 20 minutes of each other and the sixth completing the two-day return trip from Alicante to Palma, Majorca a further 16 minutes later.
Denmark’s Team Vestas Wind finished just 10 seconds ahead of Team Brunel of The Netherlands for victory.
The seventh member of the fleet, Team España, completed the course several hours behind the rest of the fleet after making a navigational decision which backfired badly.
Sixth-placed Dongfeng Race Team experienced more than their fair share of excitement when they were forced to rescue a fore sail after it slipped overboard on Friday and then Chinese sailor Jin Hao Chen (Horace) was forced to hold on to a halyard line after falling off the boat at around midnight on the same day while working on an outrigger. He was swiftly rescued by his crew-mates, suffering nothing more serious than a hand injury and a sharp lesson in the inherent dangers of the world’s leading offshore crewed professional race.
Horace added: “I fell in the water and I was hanging on by holding the wire. I was helped back on the boat very fast. A lot of skin came off my hand and it hurt badly but I was able to continue just using one hand.”
His skipper Charles Caudrelier underlined that this was a lesson for everyone in the Dongfeng Race Team. “He’s young and he’s learning that he has to take care of himself. It could have been a lot worse in race conditions. It’s not very funny to lose someone in the water, in the middle of the night.”
Team Vestas Wind, skippered by Australian Chris Nicholson, were surprised and delighted in equal measure after securing victory by such a slim margin. The campaign was only launched last month and this was their first competitive sail against the six other members of the Race fleet.
“If you’d have told me a couple of days ago that I would finish this way, I would have said it would have to take some luck but there was no luck. I couldn’t be happier. We learned so much about ourselves and the boat in this race – but there’s still a long way to go,” said Nicholson.
The teams will now take stock and prepare both themselves and their boats ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race’s opening on Saturday, October 4 with the Alicante in-port race.
– VOR Media