The gale force winds forecast did not deter large crowds from gathering in the crisp sunshine in La Rochelle to witness the start of the eighth leg of the VOR yesterday
The gale force winds forecast did not deter large crowds from gathering in the crisp sunshine in La Rochelle to witness the start of the eighth leg of the VOR yesterday (25 May).
With an 18 to 22 knot south-westerly breeze, the fleet had a spectacular reaching start to the first mark with illbruck leading off the line as the fleet charged up the track on a starboard two sail reach towards the first turning mark set two miles northwest up the track.
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Assa Abloy who appeared to become entangled with the cable on the starting mark, which left them trailing in the wake of the fleet as it powered up and took off. Within three minutes of the start, staysails were hoisted as overall race leader illbruck and News Corp raced neck and neck at the head of the fleet.
At the turning mark, it was News Corp two boats lengths ahead of Iilbruck, as the fleet sheeted in their sails and beat hard upwind towards the gate. Amer Sports Too was forced to re-round the mark while Assa Abloy brought up the rear, rounding the mark approximately five minutes behind News Corp.
RIBS, jet skis and other small craft surrounded the boats enthusiastically as they tacked towards the gate, News Corp opting for the left-hand side, while the rest of the fleet went to the right.
Grant Dalton’s Amer Sports One pushed into the lead, three boat lengths ahead of illbruck as they approached the gate, followed closely by Tyco, News Corp and SEB. djuice was in sixth position and Assa Abloy finally managed to overtake Amer Sports Too leaving her in eighth position as the fleet headed out into open sea.
This 1,150 nautical mile penultimate leg of the Volvo Ocean, has 30 marks of the course and will provide many challenges for the now tired crews as they race hard through one of the busiest shipping areas in the world, beset by fierce tides, shoals and islands. The fleet is set to arrive in Gothenburg at the end of May.