Xabi Fernández’s crew face the HGC In-port race and Around Hong Kong Island Race, being held this weekend (on Saturday and Sunday respectively), and whose combined results will count as one event on the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race Series scoring board.

© Maria Muiña/MAPFRE

An intense weekend awaits the Volvo Ocean Race fleet. Following a week of maintenance and fine-tuning of the boat, which has been out of the water in Hong Kong, MAPFRE is ready to dive back into the competition, kicking off on Saturday 27th January with the HGC In-port race. The racing programme for the fourth stop-over of the round-the-world race, includes several unique features, notably the incorporation of a second event, the Around Hong Kong Island Race, scheduled for Sunday, and whose score will be added to each team’s Saturday results.

“The In-Port race here in Hong Kong is a little different for us, as it is divided into two days,” explained the Basque skipper. “We will firstly have a normal In-Port windward-leeward race, with two or three laps, depending on wind conditions, and that will count for half the points. The next day, we will race around the island of Hong Kong, which should last between three and four hours, and will represent the other half of the points. In the case of a draw, the around-the-island race will determine the final result. It is going to be a couple of pretty intense days, so we will see how it goes for us.”

© Maria Muiña/MAPFRE

The aim: to fight for victory and stay safe and sound

On Saturday from 14:00 local time (–07:00 hours in Spain), MAPFRE will be back on the water to compete in the windward-leeward in-port race, to be held opposite the Hong Kong Race Village, and due to last approximately 60 minutes. As has been the case in all of the in-port races so far, Xabi Fernández and his team, aim to fight for victory, yet they are not overlooking the importance of protecting the material on board, particularly with a view to the leg to Auckland, New Zealand.

“We always aim to give our absolutely all in each of the In-Port races; we want to do well, and to try to win it, because as well being valuable at the end of the whole round-the-world race (in the case of a draw), we all like to do a good race. However, it is also an utmost priority not to break anything, since the following day is normally the start of the next leg, although this time we have a little more time,” explained Xabi.

On Sunday, the fleet will race again, this time around the island of Hong Kong. The 26-mile course should take the fleet between three and four hours, and the results obtained for both races, will make up the final classification for each of the teams.

As such, it promises to be an intense weekend, and MAPFRE will be out to obtain the very best results to maintain their leadership of the In-Port Race Series.

Conditions are, as always, fundamental for the Spanish team’s strategy.

In the words of Joan Vila, the MAPFRE navigator,

“For the windward-leeward race we are expecting a good north-easterly wind, a typical wind here, and as there are lots of mountains surrounding the area, it makes it very gusty. But in general we are expecting good wind conditions. For the around-the-island it looks like being a little more variable, because there is a front that should be coming through between Sunday afternoon and evening; theoretically after the race, but it may well bring a bit of squall activity with it, and shiftier wind conditions.”


Xabi Fernández, skipper

Here in Hong Kong, we have an additional problem, which is the maritime traffic. There are huge numbers of boats on the water, many are fishing boats, ferries, buoys and objects in the water. So it is even more important than ever for us to take a great deal of care. We want to ensure a good result, but above all make sure that the boat finishes the regatta in perfect condition.

Joan Vila, navigator

The first of the two events is tomorrow, and will be a classic in-port race like we have had in each of the ports, with a windward-leeward course. On Sunday   we have the other event, which will be a race around the island of Hong Kong. It is a 26 mile course, and we will have to juggle with all the dangers in the surrounding area.

There is a great deal of maritime traffic here which is the main problem, both from commercial boats, high-speed passenger ferries travelling between the islands, and all the fishing boats, so we will have to ensure we stay well away from them all.


Tomorrow’s in-port race (Saturday) is from 07:00 h in Spain, and can be followed live on our web site www.desafiomapfre.com and the Facebook page  www.facebook.com/desafiomapfre.


On Sunday the event can be followed on our web site  www.desafiomapfre.com and Facebook page  www.facebook.com/desafiomapfre. The start of the Around Hong Kong Island Race is programmed for 04:30h Spanish time, and the arrival should be three to four hours later, depending on the meteorological conditions. 


Xabi Fernández (ESP)

Joan Vila (ESP)

Pablo Arrarte (ESP)

Rob Greenhalgh (GBR)

Louis Sinclair (NZL)

Blair Tuke (NZL)

Willy Altadill (ESP)

Támara Echegoyen (ESP)

Sophie Ciszek (USA/AUS)

Ugo Fonollá (ESP). *OBR= On-board reporter