Volvo Ocean Race Leg 5 Start in Auckland

Written by Your VIPTRIP Team on March 18th, 2012

18 March 2012 – Auckland

Start leg 5 – VolvoOceanRace

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing suspended racing and headed back to Auckland after suffering damage to the bulkhead on their racing yacht shortly after the start of Leg 5 to Itajaí.

At 0700 UTC/GMT on Sunday, Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker reported that Azzam had suffered a broken J4 bulkhead and suspended racing on the fifth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12.

“Only 50 nautical miles into the leg and given the close proximity to Auckland, where the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing shore team is still based, Walker decided returning to port to undertake repairs was the best course of action,” the statement said.

“Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is expected to rejoin the Volvo Ocean Race Leg 5
immediately after repairs are complete — approximately in the next 48 hours.”

Nick Dana, Media Cew Member, described the stiuation on board:

“Absolutely gutted,” he said. “After going off a fairly sized and steep wave, we have torn the J4 bulkhead clean out. We are now headed for Auckland and hopefully a quick turnaround. The team is devastated but fully focused on the task in hand.”

The fleet began Leg 5 from Auckland in New Zealand to Itajaí in Brazil at 1400 local time in Auckland (0100 UTC) on Sunday.

“Abu Dhabi have confirmed that they have suspended racing and are returning to Auckland,” the team said in a statement. “There is a problem with the bulkhead.”

Abu Dhabi are in fifth place overall after being forced to retire fro the first leg because of a dismasting.

 

Ken Read, skipper of PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, said keeping the boat and the crew in one piece was the top priority, with gales likely in the first few days.

“It’s going to be boat-breaking and person-breaking weather, and I think the smart will prevail,” said the American.

As the leg goes on, the fleet will sail through the notorious Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties where the winds consistently blow above 40 knots and conditions are more than capable of breaking boats.

Despite having three leg wins and two in-port victories under their belt, Iker Martínez’s Team Telefónica sit just 15 points clear at the top of the overall leaderboard, with less than 40 points separating the top four boats and fifth-placed Abu Dhabi still determined to fight their way back into the reckoning.

And as the 39,000 nautical mile race hits its mid-point with Leg 5 to Itajaí in Brazil, with more than half the points still to be awarded, it is anyone’s to win.

“The door has always been open for any team to win,” Martínez said. “The teams are very close and there will be some more boats winning legs for sure.”

CAMPER, currently ranked third overall behind Telefónica and Groupama, started the leg riding the high of victory on home waters in Saturday’s In-Port Race.

And with just 18 points separating them from the leaders, skipper Chris Nicholson said his team were still very much in the race.

“It’s still well and truly game on,” he said. “I see the future for the overall podium results for this leg as wide open — as wide open now as they were in Alicante.”

“I’ve been watching this race since 1981 and never before got this far and not really known what’s going to happen going forward,” added Sanderson whose sixth-placed Sanya are showing their best form of the race, having led the fleet out of Auckland.

After second-place finishes in Leg 4 and the Auckland In-Port Race, PUMA are also on a roll – but skipper Ken Read, who skippered PUMA to third place in the Southern Ocean leg of the 2008-09 event, said keeping the boat and the crew in one piece was the top priority.

“Quite frankly this is not a leg to be talking about wins and losses right now,” he said. “It’s pretty easy to talk tough but the reality is this is not the most hospitable part of the world and we have to make sure we’re smart.”

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