On Sunday 10th June, the penultimate leg of the Volvo Ocean Race starts from Cardiff; a 1,300-mile sprint to Gothenburg (Sweden), where the Spanish VO65’s goal is to fight for victory to recover leadership of the round-the-world race.

Xabi Fernández, skipper of MAPFRE © Maria Muiña I MAPFRE

The Volvo Ocean Race is drawing to a close, and on Sunday 10th June at 1600h local time (1500 UTC), the fleet will be setting off to face the penultimate 1,300 nautical-mile leg of the round-the-world race, connecting the Welsh port of Cardiff to Gothenburg in Sweden. MAPFRE, who begins the leg in second place on the general scoreboard, just one point behind leaders Dongfeng and two points ahead of Brunel, is determined to give their absolute all from the start line onwards, to fight hard for victory and to recover leadership of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Xabi Fernández and his team are well aware that it is no easy task,

“Every leg we race is the most important one, because everything is so close,” the Basque skipper explains, “and although there are still many points at stake, and lot to fight for in the last leg, I think doing a good job here, would really help us. These shorter legs are often a lot tougher than the longer ones, because you don’t get time to adapt to the rhythm of shifts, and the offshore sailing routine, so you try to sail as if it were a coastal race or an in-port for the whole way, and that can make it a lot harder.”

The leg should last five days, where the fleet will be heading north, following the western coast of Ireland and Scotland, before pointing the bow towards the city of Gothenburg, and rounding the southernmost point of Norway. The route will mean the fleet needing to remain extremely attentive of their boat handling, as every manoeuvre, wind shift, headland and point of land, may help them get the very best performance out of the boat and the conditions.

Antonio Cuervas-Mons da indicaciones desde la proa durante la costera de Cardiff © María Muiña I MAPFRE

Speed and focus, key for the leg
“Everything is important,” are Xabi’s words 24 hours before the start of one of the most complicated legs, referring to both the route itself, and the current situation on the general leadership board, following the last leg and Atlantic crossing.

“I think that as this route is so marked, with us sailing around a lot of headlands and land points, speed and boat handling could well determine the future of this leg. I don’t think there will be as many strategic options as in a longer leg, where meteorology plays a little more of a role,” affirmed the MAPFRE skipper.

Starting among the leading group, staying focussed and extremely attentive to each point on the route, will all be key to reaching Gothenburg with options to fight for victory, as Xabi explained,

There will be many decisions to make, and I think that if we can get a good start and decent speed, which is always positive, things will be easier.”

Spanish sailor and olympic gold medallist Támara Echegoyen added,

“The last legs are more similar to an in-port race. I think they are going to be a little tougher because they are very short, and we are going to have to give our all to each manoeuvre and with each wind shift in the fight for victory. Let’s see what happens.”

As such, the leg is going to be tricky, and decisive ahead of the final result. Just three points separate the first three teams, and it is clear that absolutely anything might happen.

MAPFRE, well aware of their situation, right now aim to prepare to their utmost ahead of the start on Sunday, and be ready to battle for victory in the penultimate leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.

How to follow the start of Leg 10
On Sunday 10th June at 1500 UTC, you can follow the start of leg 10 live from Cardiff on our web site www.desafiomapfre.com and/or on our Facebook page  www.facebook.com/desafiomapfre.

Xabi Fernández (ESP), Skipper
Joan Vila (ESP), Navigator
Rob Greenhalgh (GBR), Watch Captain
Pablo Arrarte (ESP), Watch Captain
Antonio “Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons (ESP), Bowman
Willy Altadill (ESP), trimmer/Helmsman
Blair Tuke (NZL), trimmer/Helmsman
Sophie Ciszek (AUS/USA), Bowman
Támara Echegoyen (ESP), trimmer
*Ugo Fonollá(ESP), On-board reporter

 VOLVO OCEAN RACE 2017-18 OVERALL after 9 legs

  1. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN, Charles Caudrelier), 60 points
  2. MAPFRE (ESP, Xabi Fernández), 59 points
  3. Team Brunel (NED, Bouwe Bekking), 57 points
  4. Team AkzoNobel (NED, Simeon Tienpont), 48 points
  5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (USA/DEN, Charlie Enright), 36 points
  6. Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG, David Witt), 29 points
  7. Turn The Tide on Plastic (United Nations, Dee Caffari), 26 points