MAPFRE wins fourth leg of Volvo Ocean Race
Published on February 28th, 2015
Auckland, NZL (February 28, 2015) – MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) emerged victorious despite a pair of major setbacks in Leg 4 following one of the tightest-fought finishes in Volvo Ocean Race history on Saturday night.
The victory gives the 2014-15 edition its fourth winner in four legs following successes for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), and Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA).
All those wins in the first three stages have been hard-fought but none more so than this latest leg win for the Spanish boat, claimed at 2131 local time (0931 UTC) after 5,264 nautical miles and 20 days, two hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds of sailing from Sanya, China to Auckland.
Stand-in skipper Xabi Fernández could not have chosen a better stage to guide his crew to victory with just four minutes 25 seconds to spare from Walker’s men, who had the consolation of becoming overall leaders thanks to a better in-port race series record than Dongfeng Race Team.
“We’re super happy to be here, and of course, it was a very tough leg,” said Xabi. “We had a very hard last day especially, but we’re very happy to be here. We have a very good team and I hope we can now show to the world what we can do and keep doing it like this.”
MAPFRE had been gradually showing improved form since finishing last in the opening leg from Alicante to Cape Town, despite their usual skipper Iker Martínez missing out the last two legs to concentrate on his Rio Olympics preparations for 2016.
Auckland is known as the ‘City of Sails’ and the locals came out in their tens of thousands both on and off the water, fresh from cheering their cricket team to victory over Australia in the World Cup earlier in the day.
For so much of a leg which started in Sanya on February 8, MAPFRE had looked the most unlikely of winners.
They lost full communications for three days when a problem emerged with their antennae, which prevented them from receiving full weather data to help them plot the optimum course.
This, with the help of the Race HQ technology staff plus partners Cobham, was eventually fixed, but they also suffered a major injury problem on board when under-30 crew member Guillermo ‘Wily’ Altadill (ESP) badly hurt his hand.
It was put in a splint and Altadill, 22, will see a doctor on Sunday to discover if he has broken it.
“I’m going to the doctors in the morning – after the party,” he said, the pain dulled by the euphoria of victory.
Walker, meanwhile, will be satisfied with his second runners-up spot in a row, and a fourth podium place. His crew skirmished with MAPFRE all day on Saturday, but could not quite overhaul the Spanish crew despite reducing the deficit to within 1nm at times.
Equally, they narrowly staved off third-placed Dongfeng Race Team by less than four minutes.
Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) claimed fourth, just under 1hr 20mins behind Dongfeng. “This fourth place looks worst on paper than it does in reality,” explains Alvimedica reporter Amory Ross. “We’ve been so close to the leaders for so long – there’s a lot to be happy for.”
Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) had their second disappointing leg after having shared the overall lead following their win of Leg 2.
“Myself and our navigator Capey probably made one little mistake, a costly mistake, and it was the end of the leg for us,” says Bouwe as his boat crosses the finish line in fifth place, in the New Zealand night.
“We were in the lead at the equator, and we gybed to go to the east but that cost us dearly. It didn’t work how we expected, the weather didn’t do what we thought it would and we went from first to fifth.”
The 6776 nm fifth leg from Auckland, NZL to Itajaí, Brazil will start March 15 with an estimated arrival time between March 31 and April 10.
Leg 4 (5,264 nm) Results
1. MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez (ESP), finished, 20d 2h 31m 20s
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), finished, 20d 2h 35m 45s
3. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), finished, 20d 2h 39m 22s
4. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), finished, 20d 3h 58m 8s
5. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), finished, 20d 6h 30m 30s
6. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), finished, 20d 9h 32m 25s
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (UAE), 1-3-2-2 = 8 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), 2-2-1-3 = 8
3. Team Brunel (NED), 3-1-5-5 = 14
4. MAPRE (ESP), 7-4-4-1 = 16
5. Team Alvimedica (TUR/USA), 5-4-3-4 = 16
6. Team SCA (SWE), 6-6-6-6 = 24
7. Team Vestas Wind (DNK), 4-8-8-8 = 28
Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 11 with the final finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, seven teams will be scoring points in 9 offshore legs to determine the overall Volvo Ocean Race winner. Additionally, the teams will compete in 10 In-Port races at each stopover for a separate competition – the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Series. The fourth leg, from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand (5,264 nm), began Feb. 8 and finished Feb. 28.