Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 – Light weather start of the 647 nautical mile Lisbon-Lorient leg eight at 1300 UTC.
Brunel at boat, Mapfre with Rob Greenhalgh on the helm and Xabi Fernandez, the skipper on mainsheet won the start at the pin, Alivimedica inside her with Abu Dhabi behind that group, Vestas at the back, with SCA with Carolijn Brouwer on the wheels ,sucking dirty air initially.
MAPFRE was soon established as the leader with Alvimedica second with Dongfeng third.
Abu Dhabi gybed early headed for the Lisbon shore. Another five minutes later Vestas and SCA synchro-gybed, then Mapfre and Alvimedica, then Dongfeng and Brunel followed.
Abu Dhabi lost out badly going to close to the shore then gybed again just in front of Vestas.
Abeam the Monument of Discovery on the Lisbon shore, Abu Dhabi, SCA and Vestas gybed back from the shoreline back towards the centre of the river.
As the fleet headed towards the Tagus River’s Vasco de Gama Bridge, 17km long, the longest in Europe, MAPFRE led Alvimedica was second, Dongfeng third ahead of Brunel, Brunel convinced Lisbon side would pay gybed towards the shore. Back down the river overall Race leader Abu Dhabi back in sixth place.
At the top of the course the conditions kept lightening, Alvimedica and Dongfeng made good gains on the northern (Lisbon) shore. But then the three lead boats slowed.
As Mapfre rounded at 2.57, there was an 80 degree wind shift.
As Alvimedica and Brunel approached the top mark, these boats were being pushed sideways.
Brunel on the inside, then Dongfeng sailed inside Alvimedica. Mapfre was being washed away from mark 3 as were all the other boats, on Vestas, the anchor was prepared in case it was needed.
Then MAPFRE found the new breeze first filling in from the left hand side of the course, tacking to lead Alvimedica with plenty of pressure, Brunel third then SCA had to hold up to get around mark 3 but a big gain for the girls ahead of Dongfeng, Abu Dhabi with Vestas Wind close behind.
A big left shift and the wind filled in from the left shore provide big gain for Vestas.
With different breezes across the course Alivimedica suddenly led from SCA with Brunel third and MAPFRE fourth. But MAPFRE ran along the Lisbon shore and crossed ahead of Brunel.
As the wind lifted the teams switched from Code Zero to J1, MAPFRE lead the fleet back under Vasco de Gama, Brunel second, Alvimedica third, Vestas fourth Abu Dhabi fifth, sixth is SCA and Dongfeng seventh.
As the fleet passed the Volvo Ocean Race village on the way out to the Atlantic Brunel was in the lead, just ahead of MAPFE, with Alvimedica third. In fourth place Chris Nicholson and his Team Vestas Wind team with their sails all stacked to windward and with sailors on the rail were pushing hard.
At the leaving gate 5, as the fleet left Lisbon the leader was Brunel followed by Alvimedica, then MAPFRE and Vestas Wind. Abu Dhabi racing was fifth, SCA sixth and Dongfeng in seventh place.
The fleet will now head out to Cascais, then beat up the Portuguese coast and across the Bay of Biscay to Finnistere with winds of 35 to 40 knot winds expected and into Lorient.
There is a lot to play for in this leg, it’s going to be a tough 80 or so hours for the seven crews and the leader board in Lorient could be quite different. Stay with us as Leg 8 unfolds.
by Rob Kothe