The waiting is nearly over and the 10th running of the Volvo Ocean Race starts the first of its 10 offshore legs at 14:00 CET on Saturday 11 October from Alicante in Spain.
For some, it has been a wait too long and the 88 sailors taking part in this ocean epic are impatient to cross the start line and do what they do best: go sailing.
"I think we're just ready to go,"
said Ken READ
, skipper of Puma's il Mostro at this morning's skipper's press conference in Alicante. "Most of the teams have been sitting around for about a week, quite well prepared and kind of itching to get things going. Alicante has been a fantastic home base to us all, but I think we're looking forward to putting it in the rear view mirror and getting out there in the ocean. Doing what we've all been training to do for the last couple of years."
Some teams have had the luxury of years of preparation, but some have had just weeks. Some of the sailors have done this race six times and are on their seventh lap of the planet, while others set sail for the first time. It's the stuff of dreams for some, whilst for others it's just another day in the office.. or is it?
"For me the whole race is a challenge,"
said Ireland's Ger O'ROURKE
/Delta Lloyd. "It's one of the best races in the world with the best sailors. I'm really looking forward to the adrenalin rush with a good team around us,"
According to another newcomer to this event, Olympic medallist, Ian WALKER
/Green Dragon, he lives life at a million miles an hour. "I have to slow down a little I think,"
he says but this is unlikely onboard his Volvo Open 70. "I can see everybody charging out of here and nobody wanting to go into a watch system and just pushing the boats to their maximum,"
, in charge of Sweden's Ericsson 4 and on his second complete lap of the planet following his leg debut with Knut FROSTAD in 1997-98, agrees with WALKER: "I think everybody is going to push very hard. It's looking like strong to medium-strong easterlies [winds] and, if we are lucky, it will take us all the way to Gibraltar."
Packing for 22 days at sea is a complex business. Weight is critical and no one can take anything with them that isn't absolutely necessary. "It's amazing when you start to load everything up,"
says first timer Anders LEWANDER
from Sweden, skipper of Ericsson 3. "It's a lot of gear for sure. But everything is weighed and has been carefully thought out. We have the weight we have and we are confident we're well prepared for the start now."
In the Russian camp, all the gear has been stored onboard their yacht, Kosatka. The shore team is just re-checking the little things and the racing crew has had the afternoon off. "I'm going to have some physio and then off to meet my family,"
says the big Austrian skipper, Andreas HANAKAMP
. "This evening we will look at the weather, have another strategy session for Gibraltar with the navigator and watch captains, and then have an early evening."
So, as the eight teams spend their last night ashore in Spain, the weather is shaping up to make for an interesting start in Spain tomorrow. Perhaps fitting for the start of this gruelling 37,000nm race around the world, tomorrow is likely to dawn wet and very windy. According to race weather forecaster Jennifer LILLY, there may be some heavy rain in the morning, but by afternoon the rain will taper off and the winds will start to build. She says the trip out of the Mediterranean is still likely to start fast, with big seas and winds in the mid-teens with gusts to over 20 knots, but about 12 hours after the start, the teams will see the winds drop off, with a slow down likely before anyone clears the straits of Gibraltar. And then it's straight out into the Atlantic.
Volvo Ocean Race Leaderboard
(After In-Port race 1)
1. Telefónica Blue (Bouwe BEKKING/Iker MARTINEZ), 4 points
2. Telefónica Black (Fernando ECHAVARRI), 3.5 points
3. Puma Il Mostro (Ken READ), 3 points
4. Ericsson 4 (Torben GRAEL), 2.5 points
5. Green Dragon (Ian WALKER), 2 points
6. Delta Lloyd (Ger O'ROURKE), 1 point
7. Ericsson 3 (Anders LEWANDER), 0.5 points*
8. Team Russia (Andreas HANAKAMP), 0.5 points
*one point has been deducted from the Ericsson 3 score as per the jury decision number JN04 2 October.
Go here for all the news on the Volvo Ocean Race 2008-09
Volvo Ocean Race - www.volvoceanrace.org