A sweet victory for Team SCA in Lorient
The culmination of over two years of hard work came together today for Team SCA, as they crossed the finish line after 3 days 13 hours 11 minutes and 11 seconds to take their first leg win of the Volvo Ocean Race in Lorient.
It was an intense 647-mile leg with a bit of everything, from light winds at the start to the brutal upwind conditions in the Bay of Biscay. Conditions that saw several crew members hit hard with seasickness: “Sea sickness has taken its prisoners onboard. Luckily we were prepared for the Bay of Biscay. It has been 24 hours of endless bouncing around upwind. For some onboard it has been 24 hours of hell, a repetitive cycle of drinking, trying to eat, being sick, and trying again [but] the fact that we’re winning makes it all the more bearable,” commented Annie Lush from on board late last night.
Team SCA led the fleet for more than half the leg and once in pole position, then dominated. A tactical decision to choose the more offshore course as they headed into the Bay of Biscay and forecasted 30 plus knot upwind conditions paid dividends. The fleet split with four boats taking the inshore route, hugging the coastline. For Team SCA it was a case of being the hunted rather than the hunter and holding their position over the others.
The team held their nerve throughout the final hours of Thursday morning to seal a comfortable victory over the fleet.
The performance of the team has been improving leg by leg, winning this leg silences some critics who have felt that all female team could not be competitive in this fleet. “They were up there in performance with the guys but sometimes to do well, you need to sail well. They were just missing a few bits and pieces and on this leg they got it right, and when you get it right, you win,” commented Team SCA Coach, Joca Signorini.
Speaking dockside skipper Sam Davies said., "Thanks to everybody for all your support. It's a reward for all the hard work we have done. It's going to be huge for us. We've had a mountain to climb to get here”. Sam continued, “ The conditions might have been man breaking but they were not women breaking. It feels great to have held that lead in the conditions we had. It was not easy in the Bay of Biscay. But I am proud of how we sailed. It was pretty violent onboard - we had a tough 36 hours across there. If I chose one leg to win it would be this one coming into Lorient, so I am doubly happy”.
“I am not entirely sure that this has sunk in. The leg almost felt normal. We just sailed how we have been training and it came together. It was nothing special and it just came together. Now that we have got round the planet we have had the experience we needed and finally it is paying off and it feels great but it is what we have been working towards the whole time.
We gered ourselves to making sure that we came out of the light stuff at the start in front and then our aim was to hang on, but we did more than that.”
“We just got on with what we knew, we put our heads down and we were winning which really motivated everyone and we gave it 110% so we could do everything as best we could. But 35 knots upwind is horrible, it’s not nice and it was completely gnarly. Some girls on the boat were just man down. Everyone put every bit of energy into racing and we did it. Two and half years of work and we won, we deserved to win, it’s so cool!”
"I think it is pretty amazing, Not sure it has sunk in. This team worked so hard from start to finish. Having a solid team where everyone chips in really shows and we had some of the toughest conditions we have seen in the race. It was awesome for us to be able pull forward on the group"
"We have just sailed into Lorient in 1st place and with the next boat 12-13 miles behind us. It is such a big lead, I am still in shock but will celebrate later.
We just had an amazing mojo onboard. As the wind got stronger we got quicker at changing sails and it was pedal to the metal and it definitely paid off."
Pretty chuffed now we’re across the line I was nervous the whole way it’s always nerve-wracking especially when we did our final tack to come up towards the coast thinking oh we better have made this but it was amazing we sailed really well. All credit to the crew how well we sailed, we’ve just come so far since the beginning and we’ve finally shown everyone and it’s brilliant. When we started to come towards the end here getting into lighter winds it felt like wow, this could all change in the last 60 miles or so. But then finally the rich got richer and we were the rich!”.