Volvo Ocean Race - Telefonica qualifier halfway mark

Team Telefonica - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Maria Muina/Equipo Telefonica

Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, Spanish boat 'Telefónica' has now completed over half of the 2,000 mile qualifier after setting off from Marina Rubicón on Monday.

Spain's entry for the forthcoming round the world regatta split into legs, 'Telefónica', has now sailed over half of the 2,000 miles needed to qualify for the race, having set off on Monday just after 11am local time from Marina Rubicón in Lanzarote, Spain.

The Spanish boat, skippered by Olympic champion Iker Martínez and with the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 crew in its entirety on board, is now sailing at average speeds of 15 knots, some 160 miles to the South of the Island of Sao Miguel, the largest in the archipelago of the Azores.

'We've been sailing for three days now and we hope to continue for another two or three,' wrote Skipper Iker Martínez from on board 'Telefónica'. 'We are going fairly fast and we'll soon be turning around to set course East and back to Lanzarote.'

A great ground for testing: Open courses during the day and gaining windward at night, notching up miles throughout, this qualifier is proving to be a great testing ground for the 'Telefónica' crew, a crew with a total of 23 circumnavigations of the globe between them, with three Olympic Champions, two America's Cup winners and a Volvo Ocean Race winner to boot on board. Early this morning the total of tests carried out by the crew so far was around the figure of 100.

In a live link-up, Iker Martínez described the scene on board 'Telefónica' during these days of sailing: 'We are doing a lot of tests. We really want to know how the boat likes sailing best, what type of sails she prefers and to really get to grips with how to sail her, and we've had some great feedback so far,' said the Spaniard.

Every day is a learning curve out in the Atlantic. On Tuesday, the second day at sea, Navigator on 'Telefónica' Andrew Cape revealed from on board 'Telefónica' that his crew had already carried out some 20 sail changes, as well as highlighting fellow crew Xabi Fernández's sense of humour with his comments of: 'Guys, I think we won the race today!'

In any case, Iker Martínez is well aware that will the feedback is good on board, the crew of the Spanish entry must: 'give the boat everything she needs, so little by little we learn, we get better at handling and we practice and we are all happy.'

Back home soon: In one of his broadcasts, Cape said goodbye after explaining the plan for today, Thursday: 'A few more tests and then it's back on course to Lanzarote.'

When the tests are complete, 'Telefónica' will gybe back towards Marina Rubicón, with 2,000 miles in the bag and a wealth of fresh feedback to analyse in the next phase of preparation. For now, everything is indicating a direct course back to base, with Media Crew Member, Spaniard Diego Fructuoso, forecasting a route back which will be 'a lot quicker'. If no changes occur, then 'Telefónica' is not expected to tie up at Marina Rubicón until at least Saturday 30th July in the afternoon.

Team Telefonica website