Volvo Ocean Race: No treats yet

Published on April 1st, 2018

(April 1, 2018; Day 15) – Team Brunel have managed to hang on to the Leg 7 lead following an attack on the top spot by Dongfeng Race Team as the Volvo Ocean Race leaders approach the finish line in Itajaí, Brazil.

Charles Caudrelier’s Dongfeng actually passed Brunel for a brief period overnight, profiting from the inside track as the two boats do battle around 700 miles east of Argentina. But a slightly better angle on the wind and well timed gybe gave Bouwe Bekking’s Brunel the advantage which they have extended today.

“Capey (navigator) was like a hawk last night, drinking one coffee after another,” said Bekking. “You gybe too early, you lose to Dongfeng. You gybe too late, you lose as well. It was a bit of trade off, further to the east potential better pressure for us, but being further to the left like Dongfeng, you get a better shift as the wind rotates anticlockwise around the high pressure system.

“But I think we nailed it perfectly, and when we gybed we could see far on the horizon behind us a small masthead light…The ‘enemy’ was behind us, a big relief.”

As Leg 7 entered its third week, the relentless punishment dished out to the teams in South Pacific and Atlantic that saw Vestas 11th Hour Racing dismasted and MAPFRE and Turn the Tide on Plastic slowing to deal with breakages, continues to take a toll.

“Everyone’s really willing the finish to be here, especially hearing about some of the damage the other boats have sustained,” said Brunel boat captain Abby Ehler.

“We’ve had a slight issue with our rudder which we fixed, but there’s still a long way to go. It would be amazing to win this leg. We haven’t had a sterling performance in the race so far, so to win would be exceptional. Fingers crossed nothing goes wrong with the boat between now and the finish.”

Caution is running through the fleet as the exhausted teams nurse their Volvo Ocean 65s north towards Itajaí, trying to find a balance between speed and safety.

“The more experienced guys onboard have been saying to take it easy on the boat and on the rig,” said AkzoNobel bowman Brad Farrand. “So we’ve been going a bit more cautiously to make sure we don’t come a cropper. We’re constantly looking up the rig, making sure there’s not too much movement or too much bend.”

Two days after having to stop near Cape Horn for 13 hours to make repairs to their torn mainsail and damaged mast track, overall race leaders MAPFRE finally have a full suit of sails up.

Xabi Fernández’s team had been forced to sail with only headsails for the past 48 hours to allow for their repairs to bond, but easing winds gave them the chance to hoist the mainsail once more.

“We’ve been pretty lucky with the weather, it’s been mostly downwind, but now it’s getting lighter so hopefully we can sail with the full mainsail and it keeps in one piece,” MAPFRE boat captain Antonio ‘Neti’ Cuervas-Mons said. “It looks pretty good, the guys did a great job fixing it. The track looks perfect too. Now we have to be a bit conservative to make sure it’s not under too much load.”

Similarly, Turn the Tide on Plastic have been nursing their mast, sailing with a reduced sail plan since discovering a problem with one of the spreaders had seen it shift position.

“We’ve got a plan in place to try and get the spreader either back into position, or to match the other spreaders on that side of the rig,” said boat captain Liz Wardley. “Looking at the positives – on port tack we’ll be able to use masthead gear and a full main, and we could sail on starboard with reduced sail plan. At least we can sail to Brazil and try and stay in front of MAPFRE, who are just under 100 miles behind us.”

Subsequent to that quote, the team is reporting the plan worked and they are sailing again at full power.

Meanwhile, Vestas 11th Hour Racing is working through logistical options to get its boat from the Falkland Islands to the Itajaí in time to step a new mast and be ready for the start of Leg 8.

And Team SHK/Scallywag continues its long approach to the Chilean coast following the tragic loss of John Fisher. Landfall is expected early next week. Below is a tribute from the team for Fish:


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 (19:00 UTC)
1. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 801.4 nm DTF
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 14.7 nm DTL
3. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 104.1 nm DTL
4. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 228.4 nm DTL
5. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 274.7 nm DTL
SR. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
* Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTL – Distance to Lead
* Team is re-routing to Chilean port following loss of crew John Fisher

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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