19 March 2018
Vestas 11th Hour Racing rejoined the starting line today for the longest leg of the Volvo Ocean Race from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajai, Brazil. Forecasts predict that they will sail nearly 7,100 nautical miles over the next three weeks, taking them into the extreme conditions of the Southern Ocean, around the iconic Cape Horn, and up the challenging east coast of South America.
“We will be leaving nothing on the table this leg,” said skipper, Charlie Enright before docking out the Viaduct. “We are all just excited to be back on the water doing what we love to do and have a lot to gain.”
Enright is referring to the sixteen points up for grabs on this seventh segment of the Volvo Ocean Race. A double-points leg – with a bonus point available for the first to round Cape Horn and another for the leg winner – could result in an immense gain on the scoreboard.
The blue boat has not competed for any points since Leg 3 after the tragic incident just prior to the finish in Hong Kong removed the team from participation but remains tied for fourth place and within distance of getting back on the podium.
“Sailing in home waters is always gratifying,” said 2-time Volvo Ocean Race winner, Tony Mutter.” But being part of a team carrying a bigger message of sustainability here at home is something that is truly special for me.” Mutter lives here in New Zealand and works to protect the watershed that runs through his backyard by not using harmful chemicals that will eventually run into the ocean.
The entire fleet sailed an inshore course and just before turning North Head to cross the Hauraki Gulf. All Blacks rugby legend, Keven Mealamu, and longtime team supporter, Roy Disney, took the plunge off the back of the boat as the team’s official leg jumpers. As soon as they round Coromandel Peninsula tonight, the crew will be facing ocean conditions for the drag race south, with the goal of sailing the least amount of distance to Cape Horn.
“We are tremendously thankful to our shore crew all those who have gotten us back into the race,” said Mark Towill.
“It’s the leg everyone dreams about, in the last race, Charlie and I were the first to round Cape Horn with Alvimedica and that was the highlight of the race for us. There is so much to look forward to and we have a big challenge ahead but our team is ready for it.”
Over the last five weeks in Auckland, Vestas 11th Hour Racing has repaired their Volvo Ocean 65, tested the boat in the In-Port and Pro-Am races, and met 11th Hour Racing grant recipient Dr. Ingrid Visser with Orca Research Trust. The team is expected to round Cape Horn around March 31st and finish in Itajai, Brazil between 5 and 7 April.