Volvo Ocean Race: Danes Claim Drifter

Published on April 18th, 2015

Itajai, Brazil (April 18, 2015) – Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) won an excruciatingly drawn-out Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Itajaí in the Volvo Ocean Race on Saturday when a lack of breeze tested the sailors’ patience and seamanship to the full. The very hard-earned victory takes the Dutch boat to the top of the in-port race series overall standings on 15 points, one point clear of second-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR).

For so long this morning it was not clear if the packed docks of fans in Itajaí would even see an in-port race, with wind pressures barely passing three knots. Race management postponed the start for 10 minutes before the boats were finally able to cross the start line.

MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) were happy simply to be on the racecourse, after their shore team and the race’s Boatyard crew were forced to work all night to reinforce a section of their mast, ensuring the rig was robust enough.

Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) were the first to show in the shortened, two-lap, four-leg contest as they chased their third win in the in-port series, and second in a row after their success in Auckland. They narrowly reached the first gate ahead of overall race and in-port series leaders, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, with the all-female crew and Emirati crew opting for different sides of the course.

The pair completed lap two virtually neck-and-neck all the way as they desperately sought the little wind pressure Itajaí was offering on an overcast, but bright early afternoon. Slowly but surely, however, the crew of Azzam began to eke out an advantage over the women, but then the wind dropped completely and the entire fleet slowed to a virtual standstill.

Team SCA were rocked by a 360-degree penalty turn for fouling Team Brunel, who suddenly moved from towards the back of the fleet into second place. The Dutch, though, then took their turn to feel total frustration as the wind deserted them and instead, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) claimed the pace.

With the finish at last in sight, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team found themselves virtually in a dead heat for the lead, but still struggling desperately to find pressure. Finally, Bouwe Bekking’s men shook off what they must have felt was concrete from their hull to win their first in-port race of the series.

Azzam then eased past Dongfeng for second with Team SCA pipping MAPFRE for fourth and Team Alvimedica had to settle for sixth.

Team Brunel won the in-port race in the Brazilian port city Itajaí. The Dutch sailing team is now in first position in the overall In-Port series ranking.

After a short delay due to a lack of wind the Itajaí in-port race started. Therefore, the competition organizers decided to shorten the in-port race. Just before rounding the last mark Team SCA was penalized for failing to give way to Team Brunel. The Swedish women’s boat had to do a mandatory penalty round. Therefore Team Brunel managed to take the second place from Team SCA.

After rounding the last mark Bouwe Bekking chose for the left side of the race course. Team Brunel fell back to fourth place. Meanwhile, due to lack of wind the organization brought the finish line a few miles forward. The tactical decision to choose the left side of the track gave Team Brunel the victory.

“This is a great boost for the team,” says Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking. “It’s always good to start a leg with a victory. The boys have worked extremely hard. After the last gybe and when we crossed in front of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, I already felt that we could win. We have sailed a good race and this time the luck was on our side.”

“It was a tricky in-port race,” says Brunel watch captain Pablo Arrarte. “There was almost no wind, so then it’s hard to keep the boat running. The wind that was there was not stable and shifted in all directions. We have sailed quite conservative and we only concentrated on our own race. At the end, we have taken a risk to choose for the left side of the race track. We did not know whether this would be the right choice. Luckily this proved to be the right decision and we could win the race. This victory is good for the confidence.”

The teams now prepare to start the sixth offshore leg, from Itajaí, Brazil to Newport, USA (5,010 nm), on Sunday, April 19 with an ETA of May 6.

Report by event media.

Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Itajaí results:
1. Team Brunel 15:31:47 (local finish time) – 1pt
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 15:33:10 – 2pts
3. Dongfeng Race Team 15:33:21 – 3pts
4. Team SCA 15:33:43 – 4pts
5. MAPFRE 15:34:10 – 5pts
6. Team Alvimedica 15:35:58 – 6pts
Team Vestas Wind – DNS 8pts

Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race Series overall standings (after six races of 10):
1. Team Brunel – 15pts
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 16pts
3. Team SCA – 20pts
4. Dongfeng Race Team – 21pts
5. Team Alvimedica – 26pts
6. MAPFRE – 30pts
7. Team Vestas Wind – 44 pts

Race statistics:
Start time 14:10 local time
True Wind Speed: 5-6 knots at the start dropped to 3 knots
True Wind Direction: 090 at the start shifting from 370 to 090 during the race
Bearing to gate bottom gate: 270 for the first lap move to 050 for 2nd rounding.
Distance 1nm, 3 laps shortened to 2 laps.

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.

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