As their competitors Team SCA, Alvimedica, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, and Brunel were wrapping up their pre-race training and final crew selections, the anticipated sixth entry from Spain finally came out of hiding behind Olympic 49er gold medalists Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernández, the same pair that led Telefonica’s campaigns in 2008 and 2011 (finishing third in the later).
Whereas its rivals have a formidable jump-start on developing performance polars, sail crossovers, and crew chemistry, the skiff-sailing Spaniards have proven they’re comfortable keeping the pedal down when given the opportunity. It’s a one-design, and when they figure it out, they’ll be plenty fast.
In July, with no official sponsorship announcement made, they went about getting up to speed on the VO65 under the direction of Michel Desjoyeaux, aka “el profesor,” one of France’s most successful ocean racers under the name Team Campos. It’s no coincidence that Desjoyeaux also helped Martinez and Fernandez hastily prepare for their 2010 Barcelona World Race (doublehanded, around-the-world) in which they finished second overall.
With their new sponsor, MAPFRE, the Spanish team is hoping to take home the first Volvo Ocean Race win for the country.