VOR wrap-up report—Sailing News from the U.S. and Beyond
After an exciting, nail-biting nine months of inshore and open-ocean tactical combat, the final guns have sounded in the 2011/2012 Volvo Ocean Race (VOR). This year's event saw multiple teams topping the leaderboard at different points as the fleet completed their fully crewed 'laps' of the planet. One-time leader Telefonica—seemingly untouchable for the first portion of the race—saw their fortunes evaporate as VOR newcomer Groupama snatched away the overall win, followed by Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) and Puma Ocean Racing. The Spanish-flagged team that once looked so strong had to settle for fourth-place.
Yesterday marked the official end to racing as crews saddled up one last time for the Discover Ireland In-Port Race. Interestingly, the VOR created a separate in-shore championship, as these short-course events test sailors in ways that the offshore legs simply can't match. Skipper Ken Read's Puma Ocean Racing proved untouchable in the final in-shore sprint, besting the fleet of five other VO70s and cinching up his overall victory in the in-port series, despite yesterday's victory being his only all-out in-shore win.
'Winning anything is fun, whether it's an In-Port Race or a game of checkers,' reported Read. 'And, it's fun to compete against the best sailors in the world. We definitely waited pretty long for an In-Port win, but consistency paid off. We're really pleased, and I'm happy for the whole program – it's a great way to finish.' Skipper Chris Nicholson's ETNZ finished second in the Discover Ireland In-Port Race, while skipper Iker Martinez' Telefonica squad rallied to finish in third-place.
For fans of the expensive-yet-spectacular Volvo Open 70 design (myself included!), yesterday was also a bittersweet moment. It represented the last time that these magnificent open-ocean thoroughbreds will compete for the VOR's prestigious trophies, as the race is moving to a One Design format for the next few editions. While the racing will be more level and the budgets far more reasonable, there's something sad about leaving behind a world of technological and design-related innovation, but—thankfully—the flipside also includes the promise of more teams, tighter competition and a lighter environmental footprint, all of which are worthy objectives. Big congratulations to all of the sailors who just completed this year's VOR, and stay tuned for updates on the next edition, as they unfurl.
Also offshore related, the Krys Ocean Race has begun, taking the fleet of five MOD70 trimarans from New York City to Brest, France. So far, the fleet has cleared mainland USA and are making fast tracks for the Continent. 'The conditions are good, 13 knots of wind and not too much sea,' reported François Morvan. 'Race for Wateris making 17-18 knots; it has been pretty cool so far, reaching up to 30 knots at times. The wind is a bit lighter than forecast but it will come back again after sunrise. Everything has been pretty fast since [leaving] New York. And downwind is much better than upwind!' More, inside this issue, and don't miss the great gallery images of the race's Prologue and in-port Speed Trials.
Also inside, don't miss the latest news and developments from the Extreme Sailing Series Act 4 (taking place in Porto, Portugal), the Lake Ontario 300, the Route Halifax Saint-Pierre 2012, the upcoming Chicago Match Cup (which takes place this coming week), and the wrap-up report from the Farr 40 North Americans.
And for anyone in need of a shot of inspiration to shake off their post-Fourth of July celebrations don't miss ace lensman Carlo Borlenghi's great image gallery of the Rolex Ilhabela Sailing Week. Enjoy!
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