4 February 2012
Sanya, China – Telefónica became the first team since Steinlager 2 in 1989-90 to win the first three legs of the Volvo Ocean Race when they held off the challenge of Groupama sailing team to arrive first into the Chinese port of Sanya on Saturday.
Team Telefónica, skippered by co-World Sailor of the Year Iker Martínez, finished at 03:58:22 UTC to complete the second stage of Leg 3 from the Maldives in 12 days and take 24 points. Groupama came in at 05:45:25 UTC to clinch second place. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand finished in third to round out the podium finishers.
With three points in the bag from their performance in Stage 1 of this leg – a one-day sprint from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah – Telefónica sealed overall victory in Leg 3. The result sees them strengthen their position at the top of the overall standings with a total of 95 points.
Having navigated the tricky and treacherous Malacca Strait earlier in the week, Martínez said it was by far the most dangerous leg that he has ever sailed in a boat.
Telefónica´s latest victory was remarkable given the damage they suffered to their code zero sail just hours after the start in the Maldives, a setback that pushed them into last place. After completing a repair job overseen by Jordi Calafat, Telefónica made the strategic decision, along with CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, to take a hitch to the north.
By day four, the damaged sail was hoisted and Telefónica rose up the order by seven miles to fourth place. On January 26 on day five, Telefónica overtook both Groupama and CAMPER to take the lead – a lead that they would not relinquish over the final week of racing.
Telefónica faced a major test on day eight with both Groupama and PUMA in close chase, but Olympic gold medallist Martínez kept a cool head and by that evening they were leading the fleet to the open waters of the South China Sea.
Telefónica then held off a spirited charge from Groupama again on Day 12 off the coast of Vietnam and extended their lead to the finish line for the win, not only claiming a third victory, but making history as well. Additional footage is now available.