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Mapfre: Volvo Ocean Race - The battle for victory in France begins
MAPFRE left Lisbon today on the penultimate leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, the last push in the competition that began eight months ago, and whose winner will be decided over the next 1607 miles of the last two legs

Lisbon (Portugal), 7th june 2015

It might be the shortest leg in this edition of the round the world race, but by no means is it the easiest, “Although it’s a short leg, we will see large separations in the fleet because there will be many decisions to be made,” explained Xabi Fernández, MAPFRE skipper for the eighth and penultimate leg, which began today at 15:00h Spanish time from Lisbon (Portugal).

Nor will it be less intensive. In fact, quite the opposite, “We know that it will be quite intense because a podium position is riding on it. All the boats are going to be pushing to the limit, and the next three or four days look like they’ll be very intense for all of us. We hope to get the best possible result and to win the leg to get back on the final podium,” were the words of Carlos Hernández from the Canary Islands, trimmer and bowman for MAPFRE, making his debut in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Slow departure from the Tajo
The start of the eighth leg of the race was in the River Tajo estuary, beginning the 647-leg with a short circuit sailed in front of the Pedrouso Marina, the Torre de Belém and under the 25 de Abril bridge and almost right into Lisbon itself. It was there that the fleet sailed through the gate, which marked the start, out to open sea and en route to Lorient.

It was a slow start with very little wind, and the important influence of the River Tajo current. However, MAPFRE were already prepared for these conditions as Skipper Xabi Fernández had predicted, “The start here in Lisbon is going to be with very little wind, and the first hours will be tough. We are going to lose a lot of time trying to cover just a few miles, and I can see us having to use the anchor. It is going to be particularly difficult to get out of the River as we are going to be sailing against a strong current.”

The anchor proved unnecessary and after a good start, MAPFRE led a large part of the initial circuit, to be overtaken later by Brunel.

The first 24 hours promise to be quite light, but as the fleet approaches Cape Finisterre where an exclusion zone has been established for maritime traffic, the wind may well pick up to 35 or 40 knots.

The end of the leg also promises further obstacles to be faced, but navigator Jean Luc Nélias, from Brittany may well be able to offer the team the advantage of local knowledge, as Xabi explained, “Getting to Lorient is going to be complicated, but the actual route we have to take in the area is also going to be tricky.”

Current predictions have the fleet arriving in Lorient in three to four days’ time, namely between Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th June.

Ñeti fans, ruling Lisbon
Great atmosphere was felt in the Lisbon Race Village with a huge Spanish public, particularly populated by the Ñetifans, a group of followers of Cantabrian sailor “Ñeti” Cuervas-Mons, 50 of whom were present in Lisbon, keen to show their support for the MAPFRE Team.

Xabi Fernández openly thanked their presence,
“Thank you for all your support, for the songs, and the applause. Starting the leg with this kind of atmosphere is most definitely a real extra for us. Thank you all for coming here to support MAPFRE.”

Photo : © María Muiña/MAPFRE
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