Volvo Ocean Race: Abu Dhabi wins leg, extends overall lead
Published on April 5th, 2015
(April 5, 2015; Day 20) – After full focus and concentration for 18d 23h 30min 10s, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker led his team to win the 6,776 nm fifth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Auckland, NZL to Itajaí, Brazil.
“It’s awesome,” exclaimed Walker. “We sailed very, very well, it was a very tight finish – it’s been such a monster of a leg!”
On top of that, Abu Dhabi extended their lead at the top of the rankings, and become the first team this edition to win two legs. Additionally, the team won the IWC 24 hour Speed Record Challenge, covering 550 miles on March 30.
“We were so stoked with the record,” he beams. “After about 8 hours I said to the guys, ‘look, I want to get that, even if it means losing distance in the race, I want to go for it’. That’s what actually got us back in with the leaders.”
Walker is clearly enjoying the one design format of the event. “The great thing about one-design is if you sail well, you do well – and if you make mistakes or don’t sail well, you don’t. I’ve had two very tough races previously without a fast enough boat. It’s very tough on everyone involved in the team, the sailors. You’re never sure whether it’s you.”
Walker also believes his team is well suited for the challenge. “I can’t speak highly enough of everyone in my team. We have 7 out of 8 of our guys drive so no-one has to drive for too long, we get to rotate a lot.”
The challenging conditions in the Southern Ocean required the skipper to manage the risk. “It was pretty nasty, I can tell you. We backed off a fair bit. Obviously Dongfeng breaking their mast had quite an effect on us psychologically. It became more important to finish than maybe necessarily to finish first or second.
“We didn’t want to risk anything, it was big seas, we had 50 knots on multiple occasions. We dropped the keel, we tried to manage it, we lost probably about 10 miles to the fleet doing so, but in hindsight it seems like a pretty shrewd decision. Our job list is shorter than any leg thus far, we never had to slow down for anything, the sails are in good shape.”
The sixth leg, from Itajaí, Brazil to Newport, USA (5,010 nm), begins April 19 with an ETA of May 4 to 11.
Leg 5 (6,776 nm) Position Report (21:40 UTC)
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), Finished Apr 5, 18d 23h 30m 10s
2. MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez (ESP), Finished Apr 5, 19d 00h 02m 56s
3. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), Finished Apr 5, 19d 00h 24m 32s
4. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), Finished Apr 5, 19d 00h 25m 48s
5. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 601.0 nm Distance to Finish
6. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), Did not finish
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Did not start
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (UAE), 1-3-2-2-1 = 9 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), 2-2-1-3-8 = 16
3. Team Brunel (NED), 3-1-5-5-4 = 18
4. MAPRE (ESP), 7-4-4-1-2 = 18
5. Team Alvimedica (TUR/USA), 5-4-3-4-3 = 19
6. Team SCA (SWE), 6-6-6-6-5 = 29*
7. Team Vestas Wind (DNK), 4-8-8-8-8 = 36
* Assuming the team finishes Leg 5
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 fifth leg, from Auckland, NZL to Itajaí, Brazil (6,776 nm), began March 18.