Clutch win for AkzoNobel in Auckland
Published on February 27th, 2018
Auckland, New Zealand (February 27, 2018) – Team AkzoNobel has won Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race, surviving an exceedingly close finish after covering 6,344 nm along the course from Hong Kong to Auckland, New Zealand.
It was an epic final 24 hours, when a ridge of high pressure off the north east coast of New Zealand stalled the progress of the leading boats, allowing those behind to close what had appeared to be an insurmountable gap.
For team AkzoNobel and SHK/Scallywag, the buffer they’d built up over the past week was only just sufficient, and they were able to match race down the coast all the way to the finish line in the Waitematā Harbour, usually sailing within hailing distance of each other.
In the end, the margin at the finish was just two minutes between first and second place, with less than a half hour separating the top five teams as they finished in the early morning (Feb 28, local time).
“I’ve never sailed a race like this in my life,” said AkzoNobel skipper Simeon Tienpont. “We’ve always been in each other’s sights. They were always there. It’s been neck and neck. Huge respect to Scallywag, they never stopped fighting and we never stopped defending. I’m so proud of our crew. They never flinched.”
It’s the first leg win for team AkzoNobel and earns the team an important 8 points on the leaderboard, after fighting all the way to the finish with Scallywag.
“Our team never gives up,” said Scallywag skipper David Witt. “We just didn’t pull it off this time. We had our chances, but AkzoNobel were just a little bit too good this time. But we’ve come a long way since leg one.”
The second place finish in Leg 6, combined with a leg win into their home port of Hong Kong, has elevated SHK/Scallywag up to third place on the overall leaderboard.
While the weather pattern of the last 24 hours has made for a heart-stopping finish for race fans, it also led to a heart-breaking result for Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic.
Just 24 hours ago, Caffari and her team appeared poised to claim their first podium of the race, even while challenging for the leg win. MAPFRE and Dongfeng Race Team, first and second on the overall leaderboard, were over 60 miles behind Caffari.
It would have made for a well-earned and popular result for an underdog team. But as the leading trio bumped up against an unavoidable patch of calm winds, MAPFRE and Dongfeng roared in, closing the gap down minute by minute.
As darkness fell and the wind picked up for the final 60-mile sprint to the finish, the two powerhouse red boats were within striking distance of Caffari and her team, just 2 miles back. And over the next 90 minutes, they were able to grind their way past, pushing Turn the Tide on Plastic back into fifth place with 20 miles to run.
While Caffari and her crew showed incredible fighting spirit, clawing ahead of Dongfeng Race Team once again as the boats raced through the Hauraki Gulf on the final approach, they couldn’t hold on, and would need to settle for fifth place, behind both MAPFRE in third and Dongfeng in fourth.
“It’s been a crazy 20 or 21 days, match racing all the way here,” said MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernández. “We’ve been fighting with Dongfeng like crazy. We never stopped, we fought so hard, and now we feel very happy of course. We were hoping for opportunities in the doldrums and they never came, but finally they came today, and we did it.”
“We’re sorry for Turn the Tide on Plastic,” said Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier. “They did a fantastic race and I think they deserved a third place finish, but that’s sailing, they’ve been unlucky today and we managed to come back… It was a good surprise.”
Overlooking the immediate disappointment of the day, this marks the best result of the race to date for Turn the Tide on Plastic and is a sign of progress for a young and improving team.
“We’re gutted, I don’t even know what to say,” said Caffari. “We had a good race, and we thought we were going to have a better result. But those pesky red boats always seem to get it their way.”
Team Brunel, finishing an hour and a half later, fell victim to a bold tactical choice several days ago that backfired and put them behind the rest of the fleet.
Damage: Only six of the seven teams competed in Leg 6 as Vestas 11th Hour Racing is repairing their boat following the collision with a fishing boat as they neared the finish line of Leg 4 in Hong Kong. The team, which shipped their boat to Auckland to complete repairs, has lost ground on the leaderboard with both Scallywag and AkzoNobel overhauling them to hold down third and fourth place, with Vestas 11th Hour Racing sliding to fifth.
Next up: The teams have a little over week to rest up before the In-Port Race in Auckland on March 10 with another week before the start of Leg 7 start on March 18 to Itajaí, BRA (7600nm).
Beginning on February 7, Leg 6 was listed as a 6,100 nautical mile course from Hong Kong to Auckland, New Zealand.
For crew lists… click here.
Leg 6 – Final Results
1. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), Finished on Feb 27 at 12:17:26 UTC
2. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), Finished on Feb 27 at 12:19:40 UTC
3. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), Finished on Feb 27 at 12:39:38 UTC
4. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), Finished on Feb 27 at 12:42:36 UTC
5. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), Finished on Feb 27 at 12:45:08 UTC
6. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), Finished on Feb 27 at 14:14:19 UTC
DNS. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTL – Distance to Lead; DNS – Did Not Start
Overall Results (after 6 of 11 legs)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 39 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 34
3. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 26
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 23
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 23
6. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 20
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 12
2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
• Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
• Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
• MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
• Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
• Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
• Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
• Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)
Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.
Source: Volvo Ocean Race