Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing enjoyed a record-breaking debut in the Rolex Fastnet Race while Groupama and Team Sanya could also point to lightning quick times but with just over two months to go before the start of the Volvo Ocean Race there is no time for leisurely celebrations.
All three Volvo Open 70s completed the grueling 608-nautical mile course faster than any other monohull had managed in previous Fastnet Races, yet the sailors on Azzam, Groupama 4 and Sanya allowed themselves no more than a handshake at the finish in Plymouth before turning their thoughts to the real business in hand.
With the clock counting down to the start of the race in Alicante on October 29, every day is a valuable opportunity to prepare themselves and their boats for the main event.
Although delighted with setting a new monohull race record, for Azzam skipper Ian Walker, the Fastnet Race was just another important box ticked on the way to the start in Alicante.
“Our whole boat — the mast, rigging and bow — has been given a pretty good test in the Fastnet Race,” he said. “We didn’t hold back at all at any point. We raced as hard as we could.“
Minutes after the finish in Plymouth, Walker was already refocusing on his team’s schedule. Keen to get back to the team base in Cascais Portugal, Walker had even earmarked the next day’s delivery trip for more vital sail trials.
“We’re going check the boat over tonight and then we leave Plymouth tomorrow for a three-day sail down to Cascais. We have got a really nice forecast for some downwind sailing, so we should be able to get some useful testing done over the next few days.”
The story was the same for Team Sanya and Groupama who both left Plymouth for their respective training bases in Hamble, UK and Lorient, France within hours of the Fastnet Race finish.
For one skipper, the noise of the ticking clock may be becoming somewhat deafening. Team Sanya’s Mike Sanderson has won the Volvo Ocean Race on two previous occasions and will be racing the renamed, refitted and recently re-launched Telefónica Blue from Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09. For Sanderson and his team, preparation time is like gold dust right now.
“Preparation, attention to detail and your boat’s general finesse is the stuff you need to get right,” he said. “Time is tight for us for sure but we have definitely got the time to get properly prepared. As a campaign we are looking forward to switching out of refit mode and into race preparation mode. So the boat has already left Plymouth and we are back to work first thing tomorrow in Hamble.”
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Groupama Sailing Team and Team Sanya will be joined on the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 start line in Alicante this October by PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG Propulsion, Team Telefónica and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand.
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