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"MAPFRE" makes a royal start to leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race
Punctual and in light winds, the round-the-world fleet set off for the Auckland rounding mark before entering the Southern Ocean en-route to Itajaí (Brazil)

Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race, began for “MAPFRE” in just five knots of southerly wind, predicted to pick up strength throughout the day. The longest leg of this edition of the race, 6776 miles from Auckland to Itajaí (Brazil), takes the fleet around the legendary Cape Horn: the leg which every sailor dreams of sailing.

“The truth is, we are all in the race for this leg. We all want to do the round the world race to experience the Southern Ocean legs and round Cape Horn. It is a really important stage in the career of a sailor because it’s when you are sailing with the big waves that you are happiest. You feel cold and hungry but it’s also when you have the most fun”, explained a particularly delighted André Fonseca, the only Brazilian sailor in the fleet and watch captain for “MAPFRE”.

The Spanish crew were the first to reach the pontoon at 6.15 am. It was still dark but Iker Martinez and his team were already alongside the boat with their personal bags, eagerly awaiting permission from the organization to jump onboard.

After passing the immigration and passport controls it was time to say farewell to the their shore team mates and focus on the start, located just opposite the port.

“Right now there is a light southerly wind so it will be difficult to get going, and it will take us about a day to reach the ocean in these conditions”, said Iker Martinez from the pontoon, “but once we get into the southerly wind we will have 20-25 knots which is what is left over from Cyclone Pam. If everything goes according to what we have seen, we will then be caught up in quite a large high pressure system. We will have to get through it to reach the Southern Ocean, and its usual strong downwind conditions all the way to Cape Horn.”

“We know that we are going to leave in light winds, particulary throughout the first few hours, but will soon pick up pace. It’s going to be a tough leg with a lot of wind half-way through, so we hope to get to Cape Horn safely and from then on to Itajaí,” added André Fonseca.

And as day dawned over Auckland, “MAPFRE” was the first to leave the dock out to the start line. Flat seas, light winds but huge amounts of enthusiasm to get going.

The start gun finally sounded across Waitama Harbour with a particularly prominent Donfeng setting off ahead of the others. “MAPFRE”, unable to establish a good place on the line, later managed to make up positions.

En route to the mark located 13 miles from the start line, which the fleet had to round before making their own way onwards, Iker Martinez’s crew were already in fourth place, with Chinese team Donfeng leading, followed by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Brunel.

“MAPFRE” were followed by Alvimedica and SCA.

It is estimated that it will take the fleet 22 days to complete the leg.

Photo : © María Muiña / MAPFRE
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