Sail-Gate: Telefonica's Pending Case

When PUMA Ocean Racing's Ken Read visited the Sailing World offices after finishing the Volvo Ocean Race's Leg 5, we pressed him on what he knew of impending jury hearing involving race leader Telefonica and accusations of carrying one too many sails during Leg 4.

Sailing World
Telefonica's Sails
The international jury ruled that Telefonica's use of two storm jibs on Leg 4, while not technically compliant with the Notice of Race, was the result of an interpretation error on the part of the chief measurer and race director.IAN ROMAN/Volvo Ocean Race

According to race officials, a jury hearing will be held during the Itajai stopover this month. At issue is a claim that Team Telefonica sailed Leg 4 (and possibly others) with an extra sail. Here’s what Read had to say about it.

We don’t’ really know much about it, to be honest. I’ve been beating around the bushes and we’ve been told by several sources that there was an unstamped sail onboard. If it is what we think it is, it was an extra storm jib.

On the outside that doesn’t’ sound like a big deal, but the storm jib has actually turned into a pretty unique sail in the inventory. We, and everyone else, have two storm jibs with two very different profiles. There are four tack locations on the foredeck, and on the aft-most tack we fly a storm jib staysail that’s actually a square-headed sail. It’s a really funky staysail that we have up all the time when we bring it—we literally put it up at the beginning of the leg and take it down at the end. It really helps attach the breeze to the back of the mainsail.

We think it’s a couple tenths-of-knot [of boatspeed] or more in some conditions. So a lot of the time you might end up triple-headed. You can use it as a changing sail, too. It really makes a difference. So this storm jib staysail is a pretty important sail. But you can only carry one storm jib onboard. Our other staysail is your traditional high-clew sail that’s just a survival sail. In this leg [Leg 5] and the one before [Leg 4], it was predicted to be bad weather so we took the storm jib not the storm jib staysail.

I would have loved to take it. They supposedly took both, and that sucks. If the rumors are correct, and they had both, first of all, it’s an advantage, and secondly, they sailed the leg illegally, so something will have to be done.