After 25 days at sea, Abu Dhabi finished the first leg of the 2014 Volvo Ocean Race, Alicante to Cape Town, just 12 minutes and 4 seconds ahead of their closest rival Dongfeng. Simon Fisher, (SiFi) ex-Otter Commodore, plays a vital part of the team as the navigator.
The final part of the race was frustratingly slow with the uncomfortable feeling that Dongfeng might be narrowing the gap...
5th November 2014
This is the blog, posted by Matt Knighton, the On Board Reporter (OBR)
We’re currently a little over 100 nm away from Cape Town and doing about 13 knots! Last sked, Dongfeng are around 8 nm behind us and we’ve made some gains since then. Their mast light is no longer visible to us but I’m sure once the sun pops up we’ll be able to see their sail shape in the distance.
While we’re strategically positioned between them and the finish, there’s still too much race track left. Anything can happen. Everyone is prepared for a bit of a match race into the finish, especially if the winds die down and there’s a sudden compression.
There’s also the chance that they dive away when we can’t see them, get a split, and then work in under us.
But later the same day...
"Thank you Cape Town – what a fantastic welcome!"
Ian Walker greeted the crowds but, although his team stormed home to win Leg 1 of this race at 1510 UTC this afternoon, he isn’t resting on his laurels just yet. “It’s a long race,” he says. “First blood to us, but I think that all it says is that we sailed the best race, my crew is fantastic, Simon Fisher made some awesome decisions, and we just about held our nerve at the end.”
Despite leading for a large portion of the leg, the Emirati boat nearly fell at the final hurdle when it became stuck in a wind shadow caused by Table Mountain, with second placed Dongfeng Race Team breathing down its neck. At 1933UTC, the first two boats were joined by a third - Team Brunel finally reaching the dock following nearly an hour of torture stuck in the same wind shadow that so haunted their predecessors.
The next two weeks will be a chance for the teams to relax and enjoy the company of their families. But there’s no relaxation for Nic Bice, the head of the Boatyard who is in charge of craning the entire fleet out and giving each boat a complete overhaul. He heads 17 full-time technicians, engineers, sail makers and boatbuilders plus 30 more people who are flying to Cape Town, coming from all around the world to help out during this maintenance period. The boats will be relaunched November 11 to 13.
The teams must make the most of Cape Town - two weeks today, it all starts again.
Extracts from text by Jonno Turner