Groupama Comes Home In the Lead
The mainly French Groupama team received a warm homecoming welcome in Lorient, France as they sprinted first into port after a grueling Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race.
A wicked storm tossed the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012 sailors around in the North Atlantic as the six teams sprinted neck and neck up the European coast at speeds of more than 40 knots in the race's shortest but wildest leg yet.
The depression made for huge swells and rocky racing that in the end, all came down to a gybe maneuver that pushed Groupama ahead of Telefonica and back onto the top of the leaderboard in what's looking to be a tight race to the finish, with just one leg left of the 2011-2012 racing series.
The storm winds made for a wild ride, as wave after wave bore down on the speeding yachts, soaking the sailors as they pushed through the hardest leg since they'd left the grueling Southern Ocean. Racing at dramatic speeds, all six teams seemed to fly through the sea, covering more than 500 nautical miles each in 24 hours and pushing each boat into port well ahead of schedule.
The speeds didn't go unnoticed as Team Camper pulled in a distance record of 566 nautical miles in a 24-hour period and won the IWC Schaffhausen award for distance.
Leg 8 was not without its casualties, however, as three boats suffered damages requiring repairs ahead of this weekend's in-port race. With penalties possible for removing the boats from the water, it's up to teams Abu Dhabi, Groupama, and Telefonica now to decide if replacing the broken rudders, mast, and damaged keel are worth more than victory to the teams.
To have a look at some footage of the swells the teams faced and learn more about how DHL's helping keep the boats at top speeds, become a fan of the Facebook site Volvo Ocean Race Backstage.