Mapfre’s Stand-in Skipper Xabi Fernández Savours Triumph In Leg 4 Of Volvo Ocean Race
Published: Monday, 02 March 2015
Xabi Fernández will step down as Mapfre’s Skipper for Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race. Skipper Iker Martinez, who has been concentrating on preparing for the 2016 Rio Olympics for the last two legs will return for the next stage. Leg 5 will take the fleet 6,776 nautical miles through the Southern Ocean to Itajaí, Brazil.
Fernández, 38, so long the right-hand man of his illustrious partner Martinez, has clearly not been daunted by the challenge guiding the Spanish crew to 4th place in Leg 3 and then following up with a paper-thin victory on the 5,264-nautical mile Leg 4 from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand.
The six skippers arrived in Auckland harbour within seven hours of each other early Sunday morning, Mar 1.
Ian Walker (GBR), Skipper of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, had every reason to look buoyant despite being squeezed into second place by four minutes 25 seconds.
Their second successive runners-up spot has given them the overall race lead over Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), who Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing beat by less than four minutes.
Both have eight points but Walker’s men have the advantage because of their superior record in the in-port race series where they lead after four races.
“The difference between the teams is getting less and less, but our strategy is consistency,” says Walker. “However, if it becomes a two-horse race it could be the wrong strategy.”
The fleet will now enjoy some well-earned rest in New Zealand’s sailing-obsessed and most populous city before the action resumes on Mar 14 for the New Zealand Herald In-Port Race.
The departure for the 6,776nm leg to Itajaí begins on Mar 15. It is the longest leg of the race and the skippers have agreed, the one that could well point to the overall winner in the race’s 12th edition.