|South African team member Camron Wills (31) took the helm of Team Russia as it crossed the finish line at 15.29 (GMT) today, in a respectable 6th position, after a challenging first leg in the Volvo Ocean Race 2008/09.
Cape Town resident Cam, was a late addition to the crew, only stepping on to the boat a few days before the start in Alicante.
A first time participant in the Volvo Ocean Race, it was a dream come true for Cam to sail into his homeport on a Volvo Open 70. Arriving on the dock to rousing cheers from friends and families, Cam beamed; “It’s wonderful to arrive here in Cape Town, I’m home. It’s just been the most amazing, challenging three weeks of my life. Now Mikey (Joubert) and I are looking forward to showing the crew around our city.”
Talking about the race, Skipper Andreas Hanakamp (42) said:” I am really happy with the boat and the crew, we gave it our all, every mile, every minute. These boats are ruthless; they demand everything from the crew and more. Every day we pushed ourselves to the limit, pushed the boat and each other. It’s been a steep learning curve, and each day we learned more about keep the boat speed at the maximum. It’s really apparent how close and how fast the whole fleet is. The gains in speed will be down to marginal changes.”
Also delighted to reach Cape Town was South African bowman, Mikey Joubert (36) For Joubert, this is his fourth Volvo Ocean Race, having famously said on TV in the 2005/06 event, “I am never, ever, ever doing this race again.”
This time Mikey said “It was a tough, cold and windy Leg. Fantastic though and incredible sailing. It’s pretty special sailing towards Table Mountain in 20+ knots of wind, bright warm sunshine and big waves, as our finish to this leg, and to now be here in Cape Town.”
Leg one proved to be a roller-coaster of challenges for the Team Russia crew. Within 48 hours of leaving Alicante, they faced some intensive, “creative” boat maintenance, to fix the leaking keel “ram boots”. Having another two people below decks mending their shredded A4 asymmetric sail, left the crew very short-handed on deck through the Straits of Gibraltar.
However, they fought back into the fleet in a cracking sail down towards the Doldrums, at one point reaching 3rd overall in the standings. A difficult tactical call to cross the doldrums, which at first looked good, saw them trailing the fleet that opted for the western route. After rounding the turning point at Fernando do Noronha, the team were in last place. However, motivation and team spirit stayed high and the crew never stopped fighting.
With a keen eye on the weather routing, the Team kept heading for the breeze, and prepared themselves well for the anticipated storm force winds. Power reaching across the South Atlantic saw them start to reel in the miles and over haul Team Delta Lloyd and Telefonica Black, putting them into 6th place, a position they held for the last 500 miles to the finish.
Even the last few days racing, saw further challenges for the Team as they lost the use of the boat’s aerial, which meant they could not download vital weather routing information, and in the final 48 hours, once again ripped the crucial A4 sail.
Navigator Wouter Verbraak summed up leg 1 saying, “It was so exciting. The 3 hourly reports make to so competitive. In Leg 1 we saw everything you wish for – it’s like a complex game of chess, with some white water rafting, and crash and burn racing, all-in-one.”
However, despite the exhilarating racing, the Team are delighted with the boat, and experienced very little serious gear failure. Shortly after the boat arrived the shore team got to work. The boat was hoisted out of the water to work through the jobs list to prepare Kosatka for the next leg to Kochi, leaving from Cape Town on 15th November.