Ger O’Rourke and Team Delta Lloyd arrived in Alicante yesterday (Wed) with a message for their rivals "Underestimate us at your peril".
Team Delta Lloyd used the six day crossing from Cork as its 2,000-mile qualifier, and was the last boat to arrive at the start port. Only three short weeks ago the team had not reached any deal with its Dutch backer and its shore crew of eight is the smallest of any of the other competitors in the race. Irrespective of any statistics, O’Rourke, who will skipper the boat formerly known as ABN AMRO ONE, is adamant his team will raise eyebrows. He said: "We are behind the eight-ball, make no mistake. We clearly are the underdogs and we aren’t disputing that. Preparation in is vital in this race and we have not had much of that. If you look at our shore operation, there are eight people including my daughter. We will also be using some volunteers. In all, it means we have a lot of work to do, but I would not have entered this race if I thought we could not win it."
O’Rourke figures that his team’s lack of preparation time will hinder his team early in the race, but expects the effect to be nullified by the point scoring system which is weighted towards the second half of the race. He added: "I don’t imagine we will be super competitive in the first leg because we need more time to learn about this boat, but by the second and third legs I think we can be up to speed". "We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think we can win. We are confident, we have a boat that has won this event before, and we think it would be foolish for people to underestimate us."
Crew member Stuart Molloy who was on board for the delivery explained the team did not try to break any records on its crossing. He said: "we didn’t push things, it was very much a delivery crossing. We occasionally let her go to 25 to 26 knots and ran hard downwind, but there was a bit of caution because our canards and stuff don’t have the right bearings on and our running rigging is being replaced." "We are replacing pretty much everything on here. It’s a nice long job list."
"It was a good ride. We had the A3 on for three or four days and didn’t drop below 20 knots. As we got closer to the Med it was lighter and lighter and then from the Gibraltar Straits to here it was light and on the wind. This boat is really fast and the excitement level goes through the roof. You really need time to learn about these boats, but with a bit of that we can really impress some people. You can’t tell what will happen until we all line up and go at it."
Preparations are now stepping into top gear for the start of this great ocean race and with so many Irish names to watch on both the Irish entry, the Green Dragon, and O’Rourke’s Dutch backed Delta Lloyd we are assured of a great nine months of ocean racing interest.