Volvo Ocean 65s neck and neck in Solent
COWES, England – Five Volvo Ocean Race boats are currently neck and neck in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland race, which began at 0900 this morning.
Our fleet of Volvo Ocean 65s is leading the monohulls as they exit the English Channel. Currently in front is the Spanish team - whose title sponsor has yet to be announced - skippered by Iker Martínez, and Charles Caudrelier’s Dongfeng Race Team are a close runner-up.
In third place, Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are pushing the front two hard, and being pursued by the all-female Team SCA. Rhode Island’s Team Alvimedica, skippered by Charlie Enright, currently find themselves some way behind their rivals in fifth position.
To find out more, go to the official race tracker.
The event, which marks the first time that so many of the new Volvo Ocean Race 65s have raced against each other, was originally due to start a day earlier, at midday on Sunday – but was pushed back due to stormy weather blowing in from across the Atlantic.
And despite the warmer and more settled conditions today, the race route was reversed, which means that the fleet will sail anti-clockwise around the isles, rather than the traditional clockwise.
In spite of the changes, the boats were still faced with strong winds, and that meant that they had no problems slipping quickly into race mode – with Team SCA grabbing pole position during the early exchanges.
Despite pressure from Dongfeng Race Team and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, the girls held their own – and as the boats passed Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower, they hung on to a narrow lead.
But the gap to first place was soon closed by their rivals, and a late charge from the Spanish team saw Martínez’s crew edge ahead following an underwhelming start.
It was a fast and ferocious beginning to proceedings by the teams, and the tricky conditions were underlined by news of an injury to Dongfeng Race Team’s Pascal Bidégorry.
The experienced French navigator collided with another crew member, lost balance and fell, injuring his hand. The resulting cut required four stitches.
Team Alvimedica’s Will Oxley, who has completed two campaigns previously, spoke before the beginning of the race about the difficulties that the notoriously testing route would raise.
“It’s a great race track, one of the best in the world, and from a navigator’s perspective, it’s very, very busy,” he said.
“It will also give us more time to work together, to tackle decisions, and go through the decision-making process, so that it is as smooth as it can be come race time in the Volvo Ocean Race.”
And his team made one big decision earlier this week, as they announced their final crew member ahead of the first leg October start in Alicante.
Matt Noble, a 28-year-old San Francisco native, will be onboard for the race around Britain – and has known his skipper for a long time.
“Sure, I’ve sailed with Charlie (Enright) and Mark (Towill) in the past - I crossed the Atlantic with them a few years ago,” explains Matt.
“Even then, they said that their goal was to get a Volvo Ocean Race campaign together – so when I heard they’d succeeded, I was really happy for them.”
So was his addition a long time coming, or was he surprised to receive the call from his skipper?
“I knew that there was a core of sailors who they’d be considering for the crew, and I was stoked to find out that my name was a little higher up that list than I thought!”
The announcement of Noble, who is currently engaged to be married and is due to get married next summer, is the second crew addition to the race in a week following Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s recruitment of seasoned Kiwi Daryl Wislang a couple of days earlier.
The team, skippered by Ian Walker, has also confirmed that Matt Knighton will fill the role of Onboard Reporter.
Having raced with third-placed Telefónica Blue and second-placed Camper in previous additions, 33-year-old bowman Daryl brings a wealth of experience to Azzam – and is keen to grab his first Volvo Ocean Race trophy.
“The real reason I’m back is the fact that I haven’t won one yet,” he says.
“It’s time to put that right, and I’m confident that the Abu Dhabi team gives me the best chance of that.”
For full details of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race visit the official website.
Dock Talk: Five Volvo Ocean Race Teams Face Off In Round Britain Test
ALICANTE, Spain - Iker Martinez’s Spanish team will try out potential new crew members as they make their way to the UK for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race this week.
The event, which starts on August 9 and is preceded by Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, will see five of the new, one-design Volvo Ocean 65 boats navigate Britain’s 1,800 miles of notoriously tricky coastline.
Four other teams - Team SCA, Team Alvimedica, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Dongfeng Race Team - will join Martinez’s crew at the start line of what is the final competitive test before the beginning of the Volvo Ocean Race in October.
And the Spaniard has drafted in Guillermo ‘Willy’ Altadill and Carlos Hernández to join his team for the practice race – as the pair attempts to secure a permanent place on board.
The Spanish team are currently some way behind their rivals in terms of preparation, and the skipper is relishing the opportunity to blood some new talent.
“We’d like to try 10 more guys but we just don’t have the time - that’s the problem with such a tight schedule,” he said.
At 21 and 27 respectively, the pair would both fill Under 30’s spots on board – but despite their relative youth, Martínez believes that they could prove to be valuable additions to his crew.
“They are good sailors, and have a lot of experience with large boats,” he said. “We have sailed together over the last few days, and both of them have performed very well. They are young, fit and possess a lot of technical ability.”
Meanwhile, Dongfeng Race Team have packed up their Lorient training base and are currently en route to the UK.
The trip is a particularly exciting one for their Chinese sailors, who have never visited the islands before.
“Multiple Chinese crew will take part in the race, which is a major step forward for China in terms of offshore sailing,” said Team Director, Bruno Dubois.
“There is still a lot to do but if we look at the big picture and our long-term goal, this is a first success,” he added.
“I am proud that in just six months, we’ve managed to reach this point.”
This week’s journey also represents a landmark occasion for Team SCA, who have waved goodbye to their Lanzarote training base after 18 months.
The girls are now well into their estimated eight-day sail to the UK, and Onboard Reporter Corinna Halloran believes that the trip is providing important practice for the race proper.
“We are well into a daily routine,” she said. “A routine that will sustain us for days during this delivery, but will sustain us for weeks during the longest of the legs.”
Having arrived in Southampton following a successful transatlantic crossing from Rhode Island, USA last week, Team Alvimedica have taken the opportunity to enjoy a well-earned break.
Skipper Charlie Enright was delighted with the performance of his team during the voyage, and believes that the unpredictable conditions they encountered only served to strengthen the spirit of his crew.
“I think the trip was incredible for the dynamic. It was the first time with eight crew members, and every little change had an effect in a positive direction,” he said.
“The Round Britain and Ireland Race is the next step for the team. We are using it as training, and trying to learn and hone our skills. It’s a big opportunity, and one we’re excited about.”
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing joined the Rhode Islanders on that transatlantic trip, and will also sail in the race around Britain.
The crew’s Emirati sailor, Adil Khalid, led their Eid festivities this week – and there was double cause for celebration as skipper Ian Walker announced the crew’s ‘One4Azzam’ competition winner.
Keith Burhans, a 58-year-old paralympian from the USA, secured the most votes in the online contest, and will now take his place on board Azzam for the 50-mile Artemis Challenge in Cowes on August 7th.
“Getting the chance to sail with them is a dream come true – a real bucket-list opportunity,” he said.
Meanwhile, as the rest of the teams prepare to test themselves offshore, Team Brunel are staying firmly on land in order to ensure that they are in the best possible shape for the race.
Along with fitness trainer Dominic Ramino, the crew have been putting in the hours at the gym, and their experienced skipper Bouwe Bekking feels that his team could reap the benefits of that physical superiority when it comes to the big race.
“We have been in the gym every morning for five months. With the help of Ramino, we will stand strong at the start in Alicante,” he said.
And as the beginning of the first leg draws nearer, Pablo Díaz-Munio has been appointed as Race Doctor for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.
Having worked closely with Ericsson Racing Team in 2008-9, and been the Official Team Doctor for Team Teléfonica in 2011-12, the Spaniard knows all too well the challenges that a race around the world can pose.
“In an event this extreme, minor problems can become major problems, and major problems can become emergencies,” he said.
Díaz-Munio has also accompanied record-breaking mountaineer Edurne Pasaban on three Himalayan campaigns.
All-new Volvo XC90: Two ‘world firsts’ in one of the safest cars in the world (video)
- Incorporates the most advanced standard safety package on the market
- World’s first auto brake function when turning in front of an oncoming vehicle
- Includes the world’s first safety solution focused on accidental road departures
- Automatically follows vehicle in front in slow-moving traffic
- Features five times more Ultra High Strength Steel (boron steel) than first-generation XC90
Volvo Cars’ all-new XC90 – which will be revealed in August 2014 – will offer the most comprehensive and technologically sophisticated standard safety package available in the automotive industry. The new technologies will take the company a significant step closer to its vision that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.
The standard safety package on the all-wheel drive, seven seat, luxury SUV will include two ‘world’s first’ safety technologies: a run-off road protection package and auto brake at intersection capability. These innovations will form part of a suite of safety features that will make the all-new XC90 one of the safest cars ever made.
“Our starting point on safety is the same today as it was 87 years ago: real-life situations,” says Dr. Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development of Volvo Car Group. “We study data. We crunch numbers. We innovate. The result is one of the safest cars ever made.”
Run-off road protection
Accidents during which the vehicle runs off the road are common, and occur due to different causes, such as driver distraction, fatigue or poor weather conditions. For example, half of all traffic fatalities in the United States are road departure accidents, while in Sweden, single-vehicle accidents involve one third of all fatal and severe injury crashes with passenger cars.
Volvo is deeply troubled by these statistics. Even though there are currently no regulatory or rating tests to examine a car’s ability to handle run-off road accidents, the company has taken the lead to develop the technology to protect occupants should these situations occur.
“Committing to safety is not about passing a test or getting a ranking,” says Prof. Lotta Jakobsson, Senior Technical Specialist Safety at Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “It is about finding out how and why accidents and injuries occur and then developing the technology to prevent them. We lead, the industry follows.”
Volvo Cars developed Safe Positioning to address these situations.
The Safe Positioning capability means that in a run-off road scenario, the all-new Volvo XC90 detects what is happening and the front safety belts are tightened to keep the occupants in position. The belts are firmly tightened as long as the car is in motion.
To help prevent spine injuries, energy-absorbing material between the seat and seat frame cushions the vertical forces that can arise when the car encounters a hard landing in the terrain. The solution is capable of reducing the vertical occupant forces by up to one third. This counteracts spine injuries, which are serious and relatively frequent consequences of these situations.
The XC90 also features technologies that help the driver avoid run-off road scenarios:
The available Lane Keeping Aid applies extra steering torque if the car is about to leave the lane unintentionally, while Driver Alert Control detects and warns tired or inattentive drivers. It even has Rest Stop Guidance, which directs the driver to the nearest rest area.
Auto brake at intersections
The XC90 is the first car in the world with technology that features automatic braking if the driver turns in front of an oncoming car. This is a common scenario at busy city crossings as well as on highways, where the speed limits are higher. The all-new Volvo XC90 detects a potential crash and brakes automatically in order to avoid a collision or mitigate the consequences of a crash.
“These two world-firsts are further examples of how new technologies target substantial real-life traffic problems. This strategy moves us closer and closer to our ambition that by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo,” says Prof. Lotta Jakobsson.
Broad range of safety features for the all-new XC90
There is a wide range of other safety innovations available on the all-new XC90. They include the following:
Pre-crash protection in rear impacts
Rearward facing radars detect if a rear impact is imminent and safety belts are tightened in advance in order to keep the occupant in a good position. Lights also start flashing to warn the driver behind, and the brakes are activated to help reduce the impact on the occupants.
Together with Volvo Cars’ new seat design, which integrates the next generation of the groundbreaking Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), this new holistic rear impact pre-crash function helps reduce whiplash injuries.
Groundbreaking rollover prevention and protection
The all-new XC90 comes with the latest generation Roll Stability Control as standard. The system uses advanced sensors to calculate the risk of rolling over. If the risk is assessed as high, engine torque is restricted and some braking force is applied to one or more wheels to counteract the rollover tendency.
If a rollover is inevitable, the Inflatable Curtains are activated. They cover all three seat rows for an extended period of time to help prevent head injuries.
All seven seats in the XC90 have pyrotechnical safety belt pre-tensioners that also activate in rollover situations.
City Safety auto braking functions
City Safety will become the umbrella name for all of Volvo Cars’ auto brake functions, which are standard equipment in the all-new XC90.
The purpose of the new collision avoidance system is to assist the driver in case there is a high risk of collision with another vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist through an intuitive warning strategy and a brake support system. If a collision is almost unavoidable, the system will provide autonomous braking when the driver fails to respond to the imminent threat.
“City Safety is one of the most advanced standard crash prevention offers you can find in a modern car. It now covers vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians in front of the car, day and night,” explains Prof. Lotta Jakobsson. “We are now able to cover the whole span from dusk to dawn by a smarter and faster high-sensitive camera combined with advanced exposure control.”
Extended Road Sign Information
The XC90 is the first car on the market with Road Sign Information technology as standard. It has been further enhanced to show an extended selection of road signs in the digital display in front of the driver, such as various types of supplementary signs.
Covers the blind spots
The Blind Spot Information System informs the driver of vehicles in the blind spots. It also alerts the driver to vehicles that are approaching fast from behind.
Queue Assist enables safe and comfortable driving by following the vehicle in front in slow-moving traffic queues. Acceleration, braking and steering are controlled automatically.
“Distraction and inattentiveness are the most common cause of accidents in modern traffic. The Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist makes driving safer and more relaxed in monotonous stop-and-go traffic by adding steering assistance to the speed adaption,” explains Prof. Lotta Jakobsson.
Stronger in every sense
To help keep the occupant space inside intact in a crash, the all-new XC90 has literally been made stronger in every sense. This is achieved by more extensive use of hot-formed boron steel, which is the strongest type of steel presently used in the car body industry.
The complete safety cage around the occupants is made from hot-formed boron steel and is designed for maximum occupant protection in all types of crash scenarios. The hot-formed steel amounts to about 40 per cent of the total body weight.
“This is approximately five times more than the first generation XC90. To our knowledge, this high usage of high-strength steel is unique compared with our competitors,” says Prof. Lotta Jakobsson.
Volvo Cars’ vision is to design cars that should not crash. In the short term, the aim is that by 2020 no one should be killed or injured in a new Volvo car. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that some 1.2 million people are killed and more than 50 million wounded in traffic accidents every year. These figures are expected to increase rapidly if no action is taken. Volvo is determined to take the lead by using its vision of a collision-free future as a guiding principle.
The Volvo Cars Traffic Accident Research Team has investigated traffic accidents since 1970. Today, its accident database contains information about 43,400 accidents.
By using knowledge from real traffic situations in the research, Volvo has learned how to design cars that offer a very high level of safety in collisions. The company regards this as a very important base of knowledge when identifying high-tech solutions that can help to avoid or mitigate accidents entirely. In order to take this a step further, the Traffic Accident Research Team not only studies crashed cars but also investigates driving scenarios, including driver behavior, in order to learn more about what can lead to hazardous traffic situations.