MAPFRE are en route to the City of Sails. Today, 7th February at 11:00 (04.00h in Spain) Xabi Fernández’s crew started out on the more than 6000-mile leg to the north island of New Zealand. The Spanish team begin the leg as leaders of the round-the-world race, and aim for a well-positioned finish to leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

© María Muiña/MAPFRE

Hugging the coast to avoid the strong current of the Hong Kong river, and with easterly winds between 8 to 10 knots, MAPFRE began the sixth leg of the round-the-world race.

We are leaving with the intention of winning the leg. Naturally our closest rivals are Dongfeng, and we have to keep them in our sights. Ideally even if we weren’t to achieve a high position, we would still have them close. However, the aim is to win.

No clearer words could be spoken by Pablo Arrarte, the team’s helm for the in-port races and leg starts, as well as watch captain.

The start was dominated by Dutch team AkzoNobel, but once free from land, the VO65s began to sail with over 12 knots of speed, with winds reaching up to 15-20 knots. For several days predictions have been promising more on the way, and conditions could be particularly uncomfortable in the next 48 hours; up to 35 knots upwind until the Luzon Strait (separating the Philippines from Taiwan).

In other words, rough seas, sailing upwind, in short, choppy waves and with the risk of breakage constantly present.

To add fuel to the fire, yesterday morning the Race Committee announced an alteration to the leg route, with an exclusion zone to the east of the Philippines due to the prevision of a tropical cyclone.

These kinds of conditions generally entail seasickness, but we have to face them as cheerfully as possible, knowing that it is all part of the game, and taking the necessary precautions, as advised by my very wise team mates,” declared Támara Echegoyen, with her smile intact.

Arrarte added, “That’s the way it is. We have to look after the boat, and try not to break anything, so we can keep going full pelt on the rest of the leg to Auckland.”

As such, the next few hours will mean material is the top priority, overriding any result.



Blair Tuke (NZL), trimmer/helmsman

This is one of the legs I have been most looking forward to, as I haven’t been home since the end of September, and even though you might have been doing something that you really love, you miss it, and the time flies. I am really excited about this leg and to sail to New Zealand. It is going to be very special for me and all the kiwis on the fleet.



Xabi Fernández (ESP), skipper

Joan Vila (ESP), navigator

Pablo Arrarte (ESP), watch captain

Rob Greenhalgh (GBR), watch captain

Willy Altadill (ESP), trimmer/helmsman

Blair Tuke (NZL), trimmer/helmsman

Támara Echegoyen (ESP), trimmer

Louis Sinclair (NZL), trimmer/bowman

Sophie Ciszek (AUS/USA), bowman

* Ugo Fonollá (ESP), on board reporter



  1. MAPFRE (ESP, Xabi Fernández), 34 points
  2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN, Charles Caudrelier), 30 points
  3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (USA/DEN, Charlie Enright), 23 points
  4. Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG, David Witt), 20 points
  5. Team Brunel (NED, Bouwe Bekking), 18 points
  6. Team AkzoNobel (NED, Simeon Tienpont), 15 points
  7. Turn The Tide on Plastic (Naciones Unidas, Dee Caffari), 9 points