Volvo Legends: 25 years on, L’Esprit d’Equipe triumphs again

Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta: L’Esprit d’Equipe.

The Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta and Reunion came to a thrilling conclusion with 1985-86 winner L’Esprit d’Equipe edging out Telefónica Black by just 21 seconds to clinch victory in a pursuit race featuring 16 boats from the first 10 editions of the round the world race.

'It was an amazing day for sailing. We blew out one of our spinnakers in a gust and in the end we were just 21 seconds ahead of Telefónica Black. What a great finish.'

After the first day of racing was abandoned through lack of wind, conditions on the second day could not have been better, with the Legends boats powering around a 22-mile course in up to 30 knots of breeze.

At the gala dinner and prize-giving L’Esprit d’Equipe skipper Lionel Peán received the Sir Peter Blake Trophy, a 1926 silver trophy made by Atkins Brothers in England. Lady Pippa Blake presented the award as a tribute to her late husband, Sir Peter Blake, who competed in the first five Whitbread Round the World Races and won all five legs of the 1989-90 edition aboard Steinlager 2.

Péan said that he and his crew had known the race was going to be tight from the very start.

'It was an amazing day for sailing. We blew out one of our spinnakers in a gust and in the end we were just 21 seconds ahead of Telefónica Black. What a great finish.

'We think it is good for the Legends that a 30-year old boat won and not a carbon fibre-boat. This has been an great event and there has been a lot of emotion on L’Espirit d’Equipe throughout the event.'

A testimony to the Volvo Ocean Race’s 38-year history, the Legends Regatta was the largest ever gathering of yachts and sailors from previous races.

During the event, which took place in the week prior to the start of Leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 from Alicante to Cape Town, South Africa on November 5, more than 600 past competitors travelled from across the globe to renew old acquaintances and reminisce about past adventures.

Seven Legends Ambassadors were in attendance: Lady Pippa Blake; Tracy Edwards MBE; Magnus Olsson; Skip Novak; Pierre Fehlmann; Alain Gabbay and Juan Vila. Sir Chay Blyth was unable to attend having sustained a broken leg shortly prior to the event.

Representing the inaugural Whitbread Race in 1973-74 was the 55’ Tauranga from Italy, the British Royal Navy’s Adventure, which also competed in the 1997-98 race, and the 77' maxi Great Britain II, the only yacht ever to take part in five consecutive Whitbread Round the World Races.

From the 1977-78 race was the British 65’ sloop King’s Legend, and from 1981 was the 57’ Berge Viking from Norway.

The 65’ French yacht Gauloises III represented competitors in the 1981-82 race. Also from France was L’Esprit d’Equipe, the winning yacht from the 1985-86 edition.

Three examples of the Whitbread 60 era also took part: Heineken, the first of the class to be built which raced in the 1993-94 race with an all-female crew; as well as Assa Abloy and Tyco from the 2001-02 race.

Representing the modern day Volvo Open 70 class were Telefónica Black and Green Dragon, both Volvo Ocean Race competitors in 2008-09.

On Saturday November 5, the Legends fleet takes part in a final parade of sail before joining the spectator fleet to watch the six-boat Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 fleet set off on Leg 1 to Cape Town, South Africa at (1400 local time).

Legends Race Results:

1. L'Esprit d'Equipe 16:32:45

2. Telefónica Black 16:33:06

3. Charles Jourdan 16:36:34

4. Assa Abloy 16:37:56

5. Heineken 16:38:59

6. Rothmans 16:40:19

7. Berge Viking 16:40:41

8. Green Dragon 16:40:47

9. King's Legend 16:41:03

10. Fisher & Paykel 16:44:03

11. Dasher 16:46:53

12. Tauranga 17:01:50

13. Steinlager 17:07:08

14. GB II Whitbread Heritage Did not finish

15. Tyco Did not finish

16. Gauloises III Did not finish