VOR – The reporting for the first VOR race has been slow considering it was the first time the three new VOR 65′s raced against each other – but better late than never.
Here is a look back on a great few days of sailing – and the perfect way to wet the appetite for the big race… Ladies and gentlemen: The boats are in… and it is Team Brunel who have come out on top in the first competitive test of the brand spanking new Volvo 65s.
Yep, some 57 hours and 39 minutes after departing Marina Rubicon to circumnavigate the Canary Islands, the first of the teams finally made it back to shore – and it was the Dutch who drew first blood in what is sure to be just the first battle of a long war.
“The race was really fun, with various conditions”, said a victorious Rokas Milevičius. “We had strong wind, light wind, no wind – and we sailed up and downwind”.
The course is a notoriously turbulent one – and Rokas reckons that six-time Volvo Ocean Race veteran Bouwe Bekking’s crew has their superior experience to thank for the win.
“We knew exactly what to expect, because Andrew ‘Capey’ Cape has done this race before”, added Rokas. “He did a great job in preparing the race. We knew where the wind would die, and where the wind would increase.”
It was that experience which saw Team Brunel wrestle back the lead from the Spanish team on Sunday morning and open up a two hour lead on the rest of the fleet – but despite finishing in second place, defeated skipper Iker Martínez is taking positives from the race.
“We came here to see where we’re at, and to establish a base upon which to start learning”, he said. “The truth is that we are much better off than we first thought. There’s still a lot of work to do, but it’s been a nice surprise.”
His fellow crew member, Rafa Trujillo, agreed – and noted that, considering they are way behind their rivals in terms of preparation, his team should keep their heads held high following their 59 hours and 41 minutes finish.
“It’s been an interesting race for us”, he added. “Navigating the boat with a full crew, and fighting hard against two good teams, has filled us with pride.”
In what was a race to the death for the runners up prize, Team SCA narrowly lost out to the Spaniards – arriving just 10 minutes after their opponents.
“This is what we’ve been training for the whole time – to race”, reasoned Abby Ehler. “We were tired, but we were able to hang in there and give the other boats a run for their money. I think we can be pretty happy with ourselves”.
“It was the first time we got to race against any other boats – and we have a long way to go”, added Sally Barkow. “It just highlights what is important in an offshore race, so I think everyone now has a better concept of what we need to get better at”.
A big pat on the back to Team Brunel then, but they won’t be popping champagne corks just yet – the race showed that with the playing field levelled by the new one-design boats, this could well be the closest edition in history.
“The speed of the three VO65’s was almost the same during the beginning of the race, we sailed close together”, admitted Rokas. “Luckily, we found the first wind.”