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The Race to Splash!



The Auckland Stopover was hit by a perfect storm of circumstances that left the Volvo Ocean Race shore teams with long work lists and an impossibly short time frame in which to complete them.


A delayed start of the Leg from Sanya, weather systems that caused the boats to sail for days in the wrong direction and a long and relatively slow windward slog to Auckland all conspired to halve the programmed turnaround window. Five of the fleet are now splashed back in the water but Sanya is still up in her cradle.


During the long wait for the arrival of the fleet, shore crews occupied their time by prioritising the jobs on the work list into “must do” or “nice to do” while hoping there were no further surprises when the boats arrived.


Our intrepid reporters have been visiting the shore crews and watching progress. Here's their report on the Race to Splash! In reverse order, the results were as follows.


Sanya lost the re-launch race by a wide margin. She is still waiting on a bit for her rig and, as of late Thursday morning, had yet to have her mast stepped, let alone be re-launched. She will miss the practice race scheduled for Thursday afternoon.


Abu Dhabi was the last of the Wednesday launch crowd, going back in the water late in the afternoon at the end of rush hour for the crane operator.


Arriving late Saturday night, Groupama had at least a twelve-hour head start on the rest of the fleet, but as she was approaching New Zealand, something went bump in the night, leaving her with a hole in her hull near the bow. But the crew managed to repair the damage and service the boat with a bit of time to spare. Re-launching on Wednesday afternoon, she ended up fourth to splash .


“We’re very happy with what the team have been able to pull off. When you've got guys that are motivated, you can get through almost anything," says Ben Wright of Groupama.


Groupama was nudged off the Race to Splash! podium by CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand which went in the water mid-morning Wednesday. Shore crew leader Neil Cox had hoped to give CAMPER a major service since she was back in her home port and had completed about half the race. But an open house scheduled for Wednesday afternoon cut into the service time.  Despite no major service, Cox is confident and feels that CAMPER is fully prepared for the Southern Ocean.


Telefónica’s shore team manager Horacio Carabelli was pleased with the work his team had done. They put in some long days and managed to get through most of the list and re-launch the boat Wednesday morning for a second place result.


And the Race to Splash winner is. . .PUMA Ocean Racing powered by Berg! The shore crew obviously swapped their deck shoes for track shoes, getting the boat back in the water less than 70 hours after she crossed the finish line.


Five of the six Volvo Open 70’s are scheduled to participate in the official practice race this afternoon where the teams will have an opportunity to shake down their boats in preparation for the three Pro Am Races on Friday, the In-Port Race on Saturday and the start of leg 5 to Itajai, Brazil which is set to start at 2:00 pm on Sunday.