Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (ADOR), the emirate’s entry in the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR), has set a new IWC Speed Record for the current edition of the round-the-world challenge, racing 550.82 nautical miles in 24 hours as it approached Cape Horn on the fifth leg from New Zealand to Brazil.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)-backed team secured the speed record as it approached Cape Horn in the Southern Ocean while vying for the Leg 5 lead with Turkish / American entry Team Alvimedica.
Having passed ‘The Horn’ on 30th March 2015, Abu Dhabi’s yacht Azzam – meaning Determination in Arabic – has now used the speed-record platform to full effect by taking the Leg 5 lead in the Southern Atlantic.
ADOR skipper, double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker, said the conditions had been perfect for a record attempt and that the crew had pushed 100% to catch Alvimedica and set a new record in the process.
— AbuDhabiOceanRacing (@ADORlog) March 31, 2015
“It was some of the most exhilarating sailing I’ve ever done,” he said.
“I haven’t had as much fun at the wheel for a long time. We had 30 knots of wind, our fastest sail configuration and a relatively small but long rolling sea state – just perfect for maximizing these new race yachts.”
Walker and his navigator Simon Fisher took Azzam on a more southerly heading on approach to Cape Horn and the gambit paid off as they powered their way up to second before securing the leg lead just after the Horn.
Fisher said the record run had required sailing Azzam constantly on the knife-edge of control to stay in the strongest winds.
“These new-generation VO65s sail fastest when you push them to the absolute limit.
“It was imperative we stayed ahead of the weather front that was generating the big breeze.
“To do that we knew we needed an incident-free final night before the Horn rounding. That meant three consecutive incident-free watches with no wipeouts or breakages – not easy when most of it was in the dark.”
With conditions moderating after the Horn, Walker did not expect the new record time to be bettered on this leg.
— AbuDhabiOceanRacing (@ADORlog) March 31, 2015
“Conditions before the Horn were ideal,” he said.
“Now we have turned north and have 2,000 miles of tough sailing to do before the Leg 5 finish in Itajaí. You never know in ocean sailing but I don’t expect the new IWC speed record to be threatened.”
ADOR is expected to cross the Leg 5 finish line in Itajaí on April 6 and fans can follow the team’s progress via the race tracker at volvooceanrace.com.
Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) announced late on Tuesday that they plan to retire from Leg 5 after breaking their mast in the Southern Ocean.
Caudrelier had considered attempting to re-join the 6,776-nautical mile stage from Auckland to Itajaí after successfully nursing Dongfeng to Ushuaia, Argentina, earlier in the day.
But on Tuesday night, a statement from the team read: “The decision has been made to motor-sail to Itajaí and not rejoin the race – although skipper Caudrelier has yet to officially retire from the leg at this time, it is just a matter of protocol now.
“He will not relish this part of the administrative process and if there had been any other timely and effective way to rejoin the race and get to Brazil, he would have undoubtedly taken it.
“But even under motor-sail the delivery trip is expected to take around 10-12 days and then add the days needed to refit the boat in time for the start of Leg 6 to Newport.
— Volvo Ocean Race (@volvooceanrace) March 31, 2015
“Trying to rejoin the race which would mean returning to the point they started using the engine at the western entrance of the (Beagle) Channel then sail south around Cape Horn would prove to be too risky, especially with rig and sails not fully fit for racing.
“It wasn’t safe to enter the Beagle Channel without the engine, even if it would have left more options for a racing departure.”
By motoring to Itajaí, they will buy some time to make the repairs ready to start Leg 6 to Newport – although it will still be tight. The fleet is due to depart on April 19.
Dongfeng Race Team plan to leave Ushuaia for Itajaí on Wednesday evening.
At 0315 on Monday, a sickening crack had signaled to Caudrelier and his crew that the top section of the mast had fractured, leaving the boat without full manoueverability.
— VO65 DONGFENG (@VO65_DONGFENG) March 31, 2015
The decision means that Dongfeng Race Team, who were joint leaders with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) at the start of the leg, will collect eight points for a Did Not Finish result.
In the latest position report at 1840 UTC on Tuesday, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing led by 8.8nm from Cape Horn pace-setters, Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA)
The Dongfeng Race Team have been forced to limp out after suffering a broken mast during the fifth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.