Sanya, 16 February 2012 – The third leg of the round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race 2011–2012 has taken the six competing teams to Sanya in China. As Official Timekeeper, Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen awarded the prestigious trophy in its 24-hour Speed Record Challenge to the crew of Puma. Ian Walker, skipper of the IWC-sponsored Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team, used the stopover to visit the exclusive Flagship Boutique in Hong Kong.
After a demanding leg from Abu Dhabi, during which the organizers once again arranged for the yachts to be transported part of the way by freighter as security measure against pirates, all six teams reached their destination – for the first time since the start of the race. The Spanish yacht Telefónica continues to lead the field and was the first vessel to arrive at the Chinese tourist resort of Sanya, just under 2 hours ahead of Groupama. For skipper Iker Martínez and his crew, this was the third stage victory in succession. During the tactically challenging stretch from the Maldives to Sanya, the Groupama crew made a serious attempt to take the lead from the Spaniards but, after over 3,000 nautical miles, had to be satisfied with second place. Third team home was Camper, followed by Puma fourth, while Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Sanya completed the leg in fifth and sixth places.
Guests in China
Hundreds of fans flooded to the Sanya Race Village prior to Telefónica’s victorious arrival to celebrate the official opening ceremony. A colourful array of fireworks exploded overhead as several local dignitaries addressed the crowd. It is the second consecutive time that the Volvo Ocean Race has stopped in China, a country that is also very relevant to IWC Schaffhausen. The Swiss manufacturer’s high-quality watches are coveted luxury imports of one of the world’s most dynamic economies. “We are, of course, delighted that our products are the centre of such interest in Asia. China, in particular, is an important market for us,” commented IWC CEO Georges Kern. Accordingly, IWC is well represented in China with 8 boutiques, 39 authorized retailers and 2 customer service centres.
Ian Walker visits IWC Flagship Boutique
The skipper of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, the team sponsored by IWC Schaffhausen, acknowledged the significance of the Chinese market by paying a visit on Monday to the IWC Flagship Boutique in Hong Kong. Designed to give the many fans of the company’s timepieces a unique insight into the world of IWC Schaffhausen, the Flagship Boutique in Hong Kong was opened in 2009. It presents the company’s watch families – the Portuguese, Da Vinci, Ingenieur, Aquatimer, Portofino and Pilot’s Watches – in emotive settings that reflect their individual characters.
“I was very interested to see what our official sponsor IWC is doing in the Chinese market, which is of such importance to the company. I’m impressed by the way IWC not only presents its products but is so passionate about telling the stories behind them,” said Ian Walker.
IWC 24-hour Speed Record Challenge
Watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen is Official Timekeeper of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011–2012 and sponsors the 24-hour Speed Record Challenge. The team that covers the greatest distance within a period of 24 hours in each leg is awarded the much-coveted trophy. After racking up 358 nautical miles, the crew of the Puma yacht took the IWC trophy for the third leg. At a prize-giving ceremony held today, Winnie Ho, Marketing and Communications Manager of IWC Asia Pacific, and Sandy Lin, Marketing and Communications Director of IWC China, awarded the trophy to the winning crew. The overall fastest time over the entire 8 months of the race will land each of the 11 members of the winning crew a Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph Edition “Volvo Ocean Race 2011–2012”. IWC Schaffhausen will present the watches to the winning crew at the end of the race in Galway, Ireland. After the weekend ahead, featuring the Pro-Am and In-Port Race, the six teams set sail on Sunday for the fourth leg. The route takes them 5,220 nautical miles to Auckland, where they are expected on 8 March 2012.