The start of the eighth stage of the Volvo Ocean Race will be an emotional one. It will be 27 days next Sunday that John Fisher went overboard in the Southern Ocean and was lost. The fatal accident caused mourning for the likeable Briton around the world. The passionate sailor and family man will not be forgotten and will be in the minds of many active sailors when the starting signal for the start of the last third of the circumnavigation is given at the weekend. The teams travel over 5700 nautical miles from Itajaí to the picture book port of Newport, also known as the heartbeat chamber of American sailing. The America's Cup was sailed here as early as the 1930s. In the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy visited Newport several times and also sailed here.
But before it goes from South to North America, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet will say goodbye to their Brazilian hosts on Friday with a presumably light wind harbor race off Itajai and only finally say "Adios" on Sunday. Five boats are already back in the water after extensive maintenance work and have already completed a number of training races. The blue boat of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing team, which arrived under emergency rigging in Itajaí the day before yesterday, is currently being prepared under high pressure. The new mast is already up. All those involved are optimistic that Vestas will be ready for the harbor race on Friday from 2 p.m. local time (7 p.m. German time).
Five teams have their boats back in the water. The two teams of stragglers rotate ashore in order to be ready for action on time for the start of the eighth stage
The only thing missing is straggler Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag. The crew of the fatally injured John Fisher has already gathered in Iatají. The boat should arrive in Itajaí on Thursday afternoon German time. The "Scallywags" will not have three days to prepare themselves and the boat for the eighth stage in memory of John Fisher. There will probably not be enough time for the "Scallywags" to take part in the harbor race.
Team Brunel in the training race in front of Itajaí - a nice snapshot of Pedro Martinez
During such an involuntary maneuver, John Fisher was knocked overboard in the Southern Ocean by the large tree system that swung violently. The Mapfre crew has their hands full here to get your boat back under control
And another important note about the final phase of the race: In the Volvo Ocean Race 2017/2018 there is a third interesting rating in addition to the overall rating of all stages and a separate rating for the harbor races (which is decisive in the event of a tie in the overall rating): At the end of the sea marathon, the team that can show the shortest sailing time in the addition of all stages is rewarded as a bonus point. In this special classification, Charles Caudrelier's Dongfeng Race Team leads ahead of Bouwe Bekking's Team Brunel and Xabí Fernandez's Team Mapfre - a red-yellow-red sandwich. With their 13-hour repair stop at Cape Horn on the seventh stage, the Spaniards not only lost the lead in the end, but also caught a gap on the top duo that is difficult to make up for. In the end, the bonus point could have more significance than is foreseeable today.
Team AkzoNobel in the training race in front of Itajaí. In the foreground - lit by the Brazilian home sun - 49erFX Olympic champion Martine Grael can be seen
Placements according to sailing time on 8 of 11 stages so far:
- Dongfeng Race Team: 94 days, 10 hours, 11 minutes, 49 seconds
- Team Brunel: 95 days, 8 hours, 5 minutes, 47 seconds
- Mapfre: 99 days, 1 hour, 15 minutes, 21 seconds
- Team AkzoNobel: 100 days, 9 hours, 43 minutes, 27 seconds
- Turn the Tide on Plastic: 100 days, 23 hours, 3 minutes, 3 seconds
- Team Sun Hung Kai Scallywag: 102 days, 10 hours, 49 minutes, 7 seconds
- Vestas 11th Hour Racing: 102 days, 13 hours, 31 minutes, 17 seconds