After nearly 70 hours of sailing, the fourth and final stage of leg Zero came to an end this morning at 06.30h Spanish time, in front of the Ria de Muros (La Coruña). With the fleet practically at a standstill off the Galician coast, and a prediction of extremely light winds over the next few days, the Race Organization took the decision last night to shorten the course. The last stage of Leg Zero was brought to a close at 06.30h this morning; MAPFRE, third at the time, had totaled 29 points overall, and as such were proclaimed winners of Leg Zero, with an advantage of five points over second-placed Dongfeng Race Team.
On Sunday 13th August, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet set off from Saint Malo on the fourth and last stage of Leg Zero, heading to Lisbon, with a pit-stop of less than 24 hours in Chaussé de Sein.
MAPFRE, the favourites after the first three races, knew that staying ahead was not going to be an easy task. Suitably managing the long wind-less stretches of the leg was going to prove crucial in definitively claiming victory.
Joan Vila, MAPFRE’s navigator was spot-on with strategy, and Xabi Fernández’s team swiftly moved in to ensure their position.
The Spanish team was first to complete the 25-mile stretch from Saint Malo to Le Grand Lejon, restarting on Monday at 08:15h, with the rest of the fleet staggered behind them, and according to the positions and times obtained in the first sprint. Wind conditions were initially peaking at 10 knots, but quickly became shiftier and more challenging as the fleet of seven VO65s headed into the Bay of Biscay.
Finally, MAPFRE, skippered by Xabi Fernández, was the first to make their way westward off the Galician coast, in search of new wind, and results were soon to appear. Just a few hours later, the Spanish team were leading the fleet, with clearly superior speeds, enabling them to claim third place, behind Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Team Akzonobel (first and second respectively), when the leg was brought to an early finish.
The result seals MAPFRE’s victory of Leg Zero, with a five-point advantage over second-placed Dongfeng Race Team, and six points ahead of Team Brunel, third on the podium.
Although Leg Zero of the Volvo Ocean Race was non-scoring, it is clear that the last few weeks of racing have proven extremely useful for MAPFRE in gauging their performance against their rivals in the up-coming round-the-world race, and to establish exactly where they stand after their previous months of training.
We have just finished Leg Zero, which has been preparation for the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race. It has been an intense month since we left Sanxenxo, and we have had four tough legs, which have gone really well for us.
We know that our position is going to improve a great deal, and we also know all the other boats and sailors. We have sailed at a high level because we did a good job over the winter, but the other teams are going to pick their game up now, and we have to continue thinking of ways to make the boat faster.
All the boats are at a good level. This has been a training race, and we don’t expect that things are going to be easy after this. I think that the key to victory is not about one person, but about a whole team effort; the coordination of the crew, and how they sail the boat.
I think we have a great crew, and everyone has their role on board. The role of the navigator is to ensure nothing extreme is done, and to aim for an option to always stay ahead.
RESULTS 4th stage – LEG ZERO
- Vestas 11th Hour Racing (USA, Charlie Enright)
- Team AkzoNobel (NED, SimeonTienpont)
- MAPFRE (ESP, Xabi Fernández)
- Dongfeng Race Team(CHN, Charles Caudrelier)
- Turn the Tide on Plasti c(DeeCaffari)
- Team Brunel(NED, BouweBekking)
- Team SunHungKai/Scallywag (HKG, David Witt)
OVERALL RESULTS – LEG ZERO
- MAPFRE (ESP, Xabi Fernández), 29 points
- Dongfeng Race Team (CHN, Charles Caudrelier), 24 points
- Team Brunel (NED, Bouwe Bekking), 23 points
- Team AkzoNobel (NED, Simeon Tienpont), 22 points
- Vestas 11th Hour Racing (USA, Charlie Enright), 20 points
- Turn the Tide on Plastic (DeeCaffari), 13 points
- Team SunHungKai/Scallywag (HKG, David Witt), 9 points