21 days, 6 hours, 59 minutes and 9 seconds to complete 7900 miles from Auckland to Itajaí. On Sunday 8th April, at 09:59 Spanish time, MAPFRE crossed the finish line in Brazil in fifth place, after one of the toughest legs in memory, through the greatly-respected Southern Ocean. The result places Xabi Fernández and his team just one point behind Charles Caudrelier’s Dongfeng on the overall scoreboard, to continue their fight for leadership of the race.
After an incredibly tough leg, on Sunday 8th April, MAPFRE finished leg seven of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, in fifth place, after 21 days, 6 hours, 59 minutes and 9 seconds of sailing, in one of the most demanding legs in recent history. The most extreme conditions of the Southern Ocean, with intense and continuous storms, huge waves, extremely low temperatures, and the tragic loss of John Fisher, crew member of the Scallywag team, mark the 7600-mile leg; a difficult one to forget.
Such were the words of Spanish sailor and Olympic Champion Támara Echegoyen, who in this leg has become the first Spanish woman to round Cape Horn in the Volvo Ocean Race,
“The terrible news of the loss of John Fisher, made a deep impression on all the teams, and particularly on MAPFRE. The last few weeks have been really hard, because you are out
“We had endless days of continuous squalls, and three particularly large storms. Normally you get one and then it passes through, and things quieten down a little, but this time it was non-stop all through the Southern Ocean, storm after storm, without a rest. Really strong winds, and squalls. The truth is, it has been pretty intense and extremely hard. On the one hand it was fun, but on the other, tough,” explained Pablo Arrarte, watch captain on MAPFRE.
“When you have a problem on the third or fourth day, you already compromise the whole race, but I think we managed the situation as best as we could, and were racing right up until Cape Horn. Then the main sail split in half, and from then on, there was little we could do,” added skipper Xabi Fernández, on arrival in Brazil.
After a slow approach to the finish line in the last few miles due to a drop in wind conditions, the team’s family and members of the general public came out to welcome the Spanish team (who had been sailing with rationing in place for both food and fuel in the last few days), into Brazil.
“The first thing I wanted to do on arrival was to see the whole team again,” explained Támara Echegoyen. “There are nine sailors, but the team is really big, and in the end we miss them all. They are always waiting for us at the start line with their encouragement and to give us a hug, and that was the first thing I did. Then of course what you are always looking forward to is that tasty meal that you can eat calmly, and on a flat surface, without the heel of the boat, and without rushing or anything. Just to be able to enjoy this unique moment, happening right now.”
It is now time for the team to rest and look forwards. In second place overall on the general scoreboard, just one point from the new leaders Dongfeng, there are still four legs to complete in the fight for the coveted trophy of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18.
“We are really happy to finally be on shore. Happy, and also wanting to prepare the next leg and continue onwards and upwards. Nothing has been lost, we are second and just a point from leading ,so we have to keep fighting,” concluded Arrarte.
Xabi Fernández, skipper
Of course we are really happy with the crew, and extremely proud of the job we have all done. When everyone has given their one hundred per cent you can only feel satisfied.
We have always known that it is tricky to hold onto the lead throughout the whole race, and with Dongfeng it has been very, very close throughout. Of course the five-point advantage we had, coupled with the fact that this leg wasn’t at all bad, has kept us in the fight. We are just one point away from the leaders, and that is nothing with all the racing still to be done. I hope we can have a good next leg, and be back up there again.
Joan Vila, navigator
We have finally made it to Itajaí, Brazil. It has been a really tough leg for us, as since the third or fourth day we were already having problems with the mast. We tried to fix it on our way through the leg, but finally we were forced to stop at Cape Horn and make repairs. The crew did an excellent job, and thanks to that we were able to finish the leg and save some points, which has come in really handy for us in the overall classification of the race.
We will now start again and the next few legs will be important for us to get as many points as possible. We have a really good chance, and even if we are not leading on the overall scoreboard, if we have a good next few legs, we can still win.
Pablo Arrarte, watch captain
From the beginning of the leg we felt happy and comfortable. We sailed well in the Southern Ocean, despite the damage, which slowed us down and also conditioned the rest of the leg. The more serious breakage of the main sail, threw us off a little because we were forced to stop and make repairs, and those 15 hours led to an almost five-day delay, because we hit the high-pressure system and there was no way out of it.
Támara Echegoyen, trimmer
I knew that the Southern Ocean was going to be a tough leg, because it was the last time, but I could never have imagined it was going to be like this. I think the breakage we suffered slowed down the boat’s performance at times, and so we didn’t sail quite as comfortably, and not being able to sail as comfortably, as well as the tough conditions, made it very difficult.
Reaching Cape Horn, was one of my personal goals, and the emotion of being able to round the cape was what gave me enough energy. But in the end it was a little different. We broke the main sail just a few miles from rounding the cape, and were so focussed on collecting all the material and planning the repairs, that in the end I hardly even realised it. But I had the opportunity to pass Cape Horn twice in 12 hours, so actually I was able to really enjoy it, and once back on land you value what you have achieved even more.
MAPFRE IN LEG 7
Arrival time: 09:59 Spanish time (04:59 local time)
Time taken: 21d 6h 59m 9s
Total miles: 7900.78 miles
Average speed during the leg: 15.46 knots
FINAL CLASSIFICATION LEG 7
AUCKLAND (NEW ZEALAND) – ITAJAÍ (BRAZIL)
- Team Brunel (NED, Bouwe Bekking), FINISHED on 3/4/18 at 16:45 Spanish time
- Dongfeng Race Team (CHN, Charles Caudrelier), FINISHED on 3/4/18 at 17:00 Spanish time
- Team AkzoNobel (NED, Simeon Tienpont), FINISHED on 5/4/18 at 06:38 Spanish time
- Turn The Tide on Plastic (Naciones Unidas, Dee Caffari), FINISHED on 7/4/18 at 06:12 Spanish time
- MAPFRE (ESP, Xabi Fernández), FINISHED on 08/4/18 at 09:59 Spanish time
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (USA/DEN, Charlie Enright), RET
Team Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG, David Witt), RET
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2017-18 after 7 legs
- Dongfeng Race Team (CHN, Charles Caudrelier), 46 points
- MAPFRE (ESP, Xabi Fernández), 45 points
- Team Brunel (NED, Bouwe Bekking), 36 points
- Team AkzoNobel (NED, Simeon Tienpont), 33 points
- Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG, David Witt), 26 points
- Vestas 11th Hour Racing (USA/DEN, Charlie Enright), 23 points
- Turn The Tide on Plastic (Naciones Unidas, Dee Caffari), 20 points