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Vestas 11th Hour Racing Starts Penultimate leg of the Volvo Ocean Race in the Lead

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Vestas 11th Hour Racing Starts Penultimate leg of the Volvo Ocean Race in the Lead_2
Vestas 11th Hour Racing lead the fleet out of Cardiff in very light conditions Photo: Jesus Renedo / Volvo Ocean Race

The 1,300nm leg from Cardiff, Wales to Gothenburg, Sweden is the first of two shorter sprints to finish the race.

Under sunny skies but very light air, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet drifted out the Bristol Channel for the start of Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales to Gothenburg, Sweden. The penultimate leg is expected to take just under five days sending the fleet around the west coast of Ireland, through the North Sea, and up the Göta älv River to the finish line.

"It has been great to sail around the world and then into my home country," said Navigator Simon Fisher ahead of the leg start. "The race has not been in the UK since my first race way back in 2006 and it's never been to the west coast, let alone Wales, and this has been a fantastic stopover to spend with family and friends."

While in Cardiff, Fisher and the other sailors met with Tony Juniper CBE to discuss the team's sustainability initiatives and how the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership impacted the team.

At this stopover, held on Cardiff Bay, the Volvo 65s exited through a lock for the inshore racing in Bristol Channel under challenging tidal conditions. Cardiff has a daily 8-10 meter tide - which means there can be huge advantages to playing the current correctly. Today's leg start was delayed to 1620 local time in order to accommodate the tides and light air conditions.

"I think we could see the race won or lost in the first few hours if you don't play the current correctly," said Skipper Charlie Enright. "Then we could see a 'rich get richer' situation develop quite quickly." Vestas 11th Hour Racing led out of the racing area trading tacks with MAPFRE in the first hour of the race.

The hope in the light air is that the fleet is able to exit the Bristol channel before the tide turns. Otherwise, some boats may be anchoring to avoid drifting backward. Once they escape the tidal area, they will be reaching to the southwestern corner of Ireland to try and outrace a developing high-pressure system. Then, there will be a key decision due to another potential light air area off Northern Ireland where a split in the fleet is likely with boats opting for different routings to balance wind versus distance.

The best strategy for the blue boat is to avoid the match racing at the top of the fleet and draw upon the success of the shorter Leg 1 win to get back on the podium.

"We are racing for more than a trophy now," said Enright. "We are doing it for ourselves and most importantly for this bigger message of sustainability and ocean health."

The team welcomed aboard Dr. Robert Mulvaney as the leg jumper for the start. The sailors met Mulvaney back in September at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) - where they learned about his work studying ice as an indicator of climate change. Dr. Mulvaney has spent more time in the Southern Ocean than any of the Volvo Ocean Race sailors and he is about to embark on his 23rd Antarctic expedition.

In a final team meeting before departure, Enright reminded the team to enjoy these last moments on the water together.

"Bring the intensity but don't forget to enjoy it. We love this sport, so let's finish as strong as we started."

Leg 10 Crew list

Charlie Enright USA (Skipper)

Simon Fisher GBR (Navigator)

Mark Towill USA (Team Director)

Nick Dana USA (Boat Captain)

Jena Hansen DEN (Crew Member)

Phil Harmer AUS (Crew Member)

Tom Johnson AUS (Crew Member)

Tony Mutter NZL (Crew Member)

Stacey Jackson AUS (Crew Member)

Jeremie Lecaudey FRA (OBR)

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