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Cream rising in Volvo Ocean Race

Published on March 23rd, 2018

(March 23, 2018; Day 6) – The Volvo Ocean Race fleet has taken the battle to the boundary as they gybe along the ice exclusion zone in ESE winds reaching 30 knots.

The two feared red boats – MAPFRE and Dongfeng Race Team – once again are demonstrating their speed and ability by leading the pack through the South Pacific toward Cape Horn.

While Team AkzoNobel and Vestas 11th Hour Racing, the previous leading duo, gybed a handful of times in the last 24 hours, MAPFRE put in eight gybes as they looked to gain the maximum benefit from being the furthest south.

Gybing a Volvo Ocean 65 in strong breeze and big seas is no mean feat, and requires all members of the crew awake and on deck to carry out the extremely physical manoeuvre.

But similar to during Leg 3, MAPFRE leader Xabi Fernández and Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier proved they are willing to push their crews to the absolute limit in pursuit of the top spot.

And it paid off, as MAPFRE emerged as the new leaders of Leg 7 with Dongfeng just under nine miles behind in the runner-up spot.

But the leaderboard should be looked at with caution, as the boats gybing north inevitably fall down the ranking before exchanging the advantage when they come back to an easterly heading.

Despite a welcome return to the front of the fleet, Fernández was keen not to put too much emphasis on their new-found position.

“Last night was quite tricky – it was windy and the front passed with a big shift,” he said. “I think we positioned ourselves pretty well, and we’re now the farthest south and east of the fleet.

“It’s nice to be at the front even though everything is super close. Let’s see how it plays out, and how everyone is positioned after tonight.”

Despite opting for more gybes than some of their rivals, the danger of the manoeuvre is not lost on Dongfeng’s crew.

“The worst conditions in the south – colder water, darker nights, windier and you’re a long way from anywhere if something goes wrong,” bowman Jack Bouttell explained.

“Everyone’s in a slightly different mind-set with the manoeuvres in the south because it’s that much more dangerous. Carrying them out is a balance between doing them quickly so you’re on deck as little time as possible but also taking greater care. You can get injured really quickly.”

Team AkzoNobel, meanwhile, were kicking themselves for having lost their lead after more than 1,000 miles in the top spot.

“Dongfeng went past the bow of our boat this morning, and unfortunately MAPFRE was with them too,” AkzoNobel’s boat captain Nicolai Sehested said. “Last night they were behind us and now they’ve crossed us, so it’s not been the best morning. However, there’s still 15 more mornings to go though so it can change.”

Despite the new positions, the top six teams are practically neck and neck, split north to south by 20 miles. The only team to have slipped slightly is Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, who trail by around 90 miles, but with almost 5,000 miles – and the rounding of Cape Horn – still to go, the Leg 7 podium is far from confirmed.

COURSE: Starting on March 18, Leg 7 takes the teams from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajaí, Brazil. Race organizers choose to estimate the tactical distance for each leg rather than list the actual distance, an unusual decision that’s revealed once the race starts and the tracker lists the actual distance to finish. The VOR says Leg 7 is 7600 nm whereas the truth is more like 6623 nm with an ETA in Itajaí between April 4 and 6.

For crew lists … click here.

Race detailsTrackerScoreboardRace routeFacebookYouTube

Leg 7 – Position Report (13:00 UTC)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 4545.9 nm DTF
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 8.9 nm DTL
3. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 9.1 nm DTL
4. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 11.1 nm DTL
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 11.6 nm DTL
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 18.6 nm DTL
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 95.7 nm DTL
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTL – Distance to Lead

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

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