Thousands of fans came out to follow the start of Leg One of the round-the-world race. 1450 miles lie ahead of the fleet between Alicante and Lisbon, in which MAPFRE will do everything in their power to have the best possible start to the Volvo Ocean Race
The big day finally arrived, and right on schedule, at 14:00h Leg One of the Volvo Ocean Race kicked off in Alicante, with MAPFRE ready to give their absolute all to get to the front of the fleet from the very first minute. After an initial coastal race in front of Postiguet Beach in Alicante, the Spanish boat, skippered by Xabi Fernández, began to head south through the Mediterranean en route to Lisbon, in second place with a speed of 16 knots.
Emotional send-off for MAPFRE in Alicante
Prior to the boat leaving the dock this morning, the shore team and sailing crew met for the last time at the Alicante team base, with the President and Vice-President of MAPFRE Antonio Huertas and Antonio Núñez, José Ramón Lete, the Secretary of State for Sport, Pedro Campos, the team director, and His Majesty the King Juan Carlos, who shared words of support and encouragement to the team before the start of the great challenge of the round-the-world race.
Following the team parade, the family, friends, followers and now notorious red tide of Ñetifans swamped the dock to provide a notably warm and emotional send-off for the team, including great shows of affection, songs and encouragement for every one of the crew members present; a genuine, and very welcome way to begin the race, for Xabi Fernández and his team, after ten intense days in Alicante.
“The day has finally arrived. We are really happy with this send-off from Alicante, with the feeling that we have prepared to the very best of our abilities, and will now see if it turns out well,” declared Xabi Fernández, just minutes before leaving the dock, and whose words were echoed by Galician sailor Támara Echegoyen,
“All of us can’t wait to jump on board, and to be able to do our job, to get into the routine, and leave the nerves and emotion of the start behind us. Now we can do what we most love, which is to sail the Volvo Ocean Race, and be able to give our very best, for all of our supporters, who are giving us so much encouragement.”
New Zealand sailor Blalir Tuke, also making his début in the race, was clearly thrilled and determined to give his absolute all on board MAPFRE,
“It’s an amazing atmosphere. I’m part of a great team, and I feel ready to go for it, ready to race around the world.”
According to the official Race Organisation data, 40,000 people visited the Alicante Race Village this morning, with 10,000 spectators in situ watching the start of the round-the-world race.
The action begins
Leg One of the Volvo Ocean Race has begun for the fourth consecutive edition from Alicante, and in perfect conditions. A north-easterly wind of between 17-18 knots, enabled the fleet to complete the coastal race in just over an hour, five laps of a windward-leeward course, before heading to Lisbon.
MAPFRE, in one of the most favoured positions at the start, opted for the left side of the race course, and covered the first lap in first place. A battle swiftely ensued for the lead between the Spanish boat, Brunel and Dongfeng, alternating at the top spot.
With the three teams lined up sailing in close proximity, Xabi Fernández’s team and the crew led by Bouwe Bekking, were given a penalty for not maintaining sufficient space from the leewardd boat. However, MAPFRE were not shaken, and it wasn’t long before the Spanish team had made up the lost ground, and recovered their place at the front of the pack.
The fleet are currently sailing to Lisbon, having rounded Cabo de Palos, MAPFRE is in second place behind Dongfeng at a speed of 16 knots. The first 24 hours promise to be quite intense, with wind conditions between 11 and 16 knots, predicted to increase to up to 20-25 knots in the Straits, and 30 off the coast of Tarifa. The first transition will await the fleet as they get close to the Island of Porto Santo, with a compulsory rounding of the island before they head to the Portuguese capital.
PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION LEG 1
ALICANTE (SPAIN) – LISBON (PORTUGAL): 1450 millas
Day 1 – 18:00 Spanish time – 22nd October 2017
1. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN, Charles Caudrelier), 1304 miles from the finish.
2. MAPFRE (ESP, Xabi Fernández) +0.3 miles
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (USA, Charlie Enright) +0.4 miles
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED, Simeon Tienpont) +0.5 miles
5. Turn The Tide on Plastic (Naciones Unidas, Dee Caffari) +0.7 miles
6. Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG, David Witt) +0.8 miles
7. Team Brunel (NED, Bouwe Bekking) +2.2 miles
MAPFRE CREW FOR LEG 1
Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Joan Vila (ESP)
Pablo Arrarte (ESP)
Rob Greenhalgh (GBR)
Antonio “Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons (ESP)
Blair Tuke (NZL)
Willy Altadill (ESP)
Támara Echegoyen (ESP)
Sophie Ciszek (USA/AUS)
Ugo Fonollá (ESP). *OBR= on board reporter