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Volvo Ocean Race: MAPFRE heads to the United States in second place - Xabi & Ñeti with the Spaniards of Team Brunel Pablo Arrarte & Javi de la Plaza
The sixth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race started today at 17:00 UTC. A great turnout from the public to see the boats off from Brazil, yet extremely slow on the water due to very light wind conditions

Itajaí (Brazil), 19th April 2015

Skipper Xabi Fernández had forecast a “not very exciting” start of leg six from Itajaí (Brazil) as far as wind conditions were concerned, and the 5010 mile leg set off today from Brazil in extremely light conditions: just four knots (7.4km/h) of easterly wind.

However, once again the Brazilian public did not let the side down. Huge crowds gathered from the early hours of the morning in the Race Village to see the fleet off. Once again, there was a great display of affection from the public, echoing the start of the race in 2012, the last time the Volvo Ocean Race was in Itajaí. The warmth of the Santa Catarina locals was quite unmistakeable, especially for the Spanish team of MAPFRE, and their crew member André Fonseca, from Santa Catarina, and the only Brazilian sailor in the competition.

3, 2, 1… Go!
At 17:00 UTC on the dot, the sixth of the nine legs of this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race set off with the fleet having to complete an inshore course of five laps. However, after an hour the VO65 fleet hadn’t even finished the first. A practically non-existent wind was making it quite impossible.

The Race Committee finally made the decision to reduce the course to just one lap, and after rounding the first mark the six VO65 on the start line were able to head offshore.

SCA and Alvimedica were soon prominent in the fleet, with the girls initially leading. MAPFRE slowly came back from behind, fighting hard to move into second place at the mark. Just one boat, Alvimedica was ahead. The Turkish-American team left Brazil as leaders en route to Newport.

A slow first few days of racing
The first 48 hours of the race are expected to be dominated by light winds.

“Tonight we are going to have very little wind and will quite likely be sailing with the Code 0. Tomorrow morning we will probably change to the J1 and the boat will begin to go a little faster. In 24 or 30 hours we will have to make an important decision: whether to stay closer to shore or go out further to sea,” explained Spanish skipper and Olympic champion Xabi Fernández, before boarding MAPFRE.

Although they have left the Southern Ocean behind, this next leg is just as long and with its own particular challenges, as Antonio “Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons explained,

“We have to cross practically the entire Atlantic Ocean from south to north, as well as getting through the Doldrums and trade winds before reaching Newport, where we are expecting a pretty large cold front, with really cold temperatures. Compared to the last leg, this one in theory should be easier, but it’s still 5000 miles and anything can happen,” stressed the MAPFRE bowman who is sailing his third round the world race.

As in the previous legs, the aim of the Spanish team is to achieve a podium position, and as it has been clear so far, it is no easy task,

“We have to try and prove that we have evolved during this “round-the-world”. The aim is to get a podium finish in Newport and prove that races are won by sailing,” concluded Cuervas-Mons.

Photo : © María Muiña/MAPFRE
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