The Spanish team opts for extra mast safety by replacing their rigging today

It’s been a big day for the Spanish Volvo Ocean Race team in China. The Volvo Trucks Joint Ventures Executive Vice President Pär Östberg handed the “Telefónica” crew, who were joined by Caspar Luyten, CEO of Telefónica Asia, the winner’s trophy for the third leg of the regatta, raced between Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Sanya (China).

This third win in a row has allowed Team Telefónica to build on their lead in the round the world regatta, a top spot that the team has been defending since their win in the first leg in Cape Town (South Africa) and which was consolidated with a win in Leg 2 in Abu Dhabi (UAE). It’s also been confirmed that the team has logged a new entry in the history books by winning this third leg in the Volvo Ocean Race, taking three legs in a row, something which last took place 22 years ago.

Increased safety
It has also been an unusual day for the Spanish team. Having detected a small issue with the rigging ahead of a very tough leg that will take them to New Zealand, racing between the ports of Sanya and Auckland, the team opted out of the practice race and chose instead to use that valuable time to work on stepping up safety on board the yacht.

"It’s always good to do the training race. We’ve come from some very long racing, lots and lots of miles straight and now we’ll be taking on a short coastal course, which is fiddly, and requires a lot of moves… so it’s always good to get some training in with the other boats”, said the Telefónica Skipper during a lengthy chat on the dockside today.

Having said that, the fleet’s youngest skipper explained that “we were going to do the practice race today but we found something that we didn’t like much so we’ve decided to replace the rigging for the next leg”.

Removing the mast, changing the rigging, using a spare rig in its place to be out sailing by tomorrow and to test that everything is in the right place and ready for Saturday’s in-port race: that’s the plan for "Telefónica”.

So, the rigging that will be used from now on will be “Telefónica”’s spare rig, which the team already had with them in Sanya and which has also been used before. “It’s a rig which already has a few miles on it, but a lot fewer than the rig we’ve had up until now which has done all of the racing so far. The spares we’ve got have all been used so that we are sure they work well, and that’s why we are not at all afraid about making the change. It’s safer and that’s why we are doing it. It’s a spare rig that we’ve used a fair bit before the race, so we have no hesitations”, said Martínez.

The shore crew and boat crew have been working since the morning in Sanya (the early hours of the morning in Spain) to carry out this operation: replacing the rigging and putting the mast back in place. "It is a pretty straightforward transfer and we think that by doing it we’ll be avoiding any potential problems. It’s likely that the one we had up was fine, and that we may have been able to complete the leg without an issue but we always try to check everything as thoroughly as possible and we try to be very careful. It’s better to be on the safe side, especially with a leg as tough as the one we have ahead of us may be”, said Iker.
Sailing tomorrow  
The plan for “Telefónica” for tomorrow (Friday), the day of the ProAm race, is to sail in the morning to check that everything is in its place following the changes made today. “If we get time to do some of the ProAm racing tomorrow, of course we’ll do it. We have special guests and we know that they are really looking forward to it, but we are not going to rush anything. We’ve got to do what we’ve to to do properly, calmly and if we finish our checks before the ProAm racing finishes we’ll take part in some, but if not we’ll just go for a sail and our guests will find out what a day of adjusting the mast is like, which is also very interesting”, Iker Martínez finished off by saying.

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