Volvo Ocean Race: It’s getting interesting
Published on June 7th, 2018
Cardiff, Wales (June 7, 2018) – With the In Port Race Series acting as a tie-breaking mechanism on the overall Volvo Ocean Race scoreboard, the next race tomorrow is of interest as the top three teams are heading into the final two offshore legs separated by just three points on the race leaderboard.
After racing over 40,000 nautical miles, Charles Caudrelier’s Dongfeng Race Team, the new overall race leader, is ahead of the Spanish MAPFRE team by just one point, with Team Brunel two points further back.
Double Olympic medalist Xabi Fernández and his MAPFRE team currently hold the tie-breaking trump card, sitting at the top of the leaderboard for the series, but they will be equally eager to reclaim the offshore overall position they lost after the last offshore leg.
With MAPRE lurking so close to Dongfeng, skipper Charles Caudrelier has a simple way of looking at his team’s potentially precarious position at the top of the table.
“Stop thinking about math and the points,” he says. “Just win.”
It’s a motivating sentiment, but is easier said than done. Dongfeng Race Team has reached the pinnacle of the race rankings through consistent finishes in the top half of the fleet on each stage of the race.
But the Chinese flagged team has yet to win a leg. For Caudrelier there couldn’t be a better time to wipe that anomaly from the Dongfeng storyline and add a win to his team’s race accomplishments.
“Winning this next leg would be very important for any of the three leading teams,” he allows. “But we haven’t won a leg yet and we’d love to do that. The pressure is maximum but we have to deal with it.”
In truth, holding the lead is where any of the top three teams would like to be and there is plenty of pressure to share across the podium.
MAPFRE for example, has led for the vast majority of the race, but has struggled to stay in top form over the past eight weeks. This is the second time in three legs the Spanish squad has surrendered the overall lead to Dongfeng.
In contrast, Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel started the race slowly but has been on fire of late, posting a 1-2-1 scoreline on the past three outings with both wins coming on the final two double-point scoring legs.
Suddenly, the yellow boat isn’t just a threat for the podium, but can see a way forward to snatch the outright lead on the veteran Bekking’s eighth attempt to grab the title.
Caudrelier says the emergence of Brunel as a legitimate contender means Dongfeng can no longer afford to spend all of its attention watching MAPFRE, a change in strategy compared to most of the race.
“The good thing is now that Brunel is in the party we can’t just focus on the red boats. We have to be ahead of both of these two guys, so we have to try and win the legs,” he says.
“We really have to take the lead and not just follow the others. The others must follow us. We are not going to watch them too much, as it is now the two boats against us, not just the one.”
At this stage of the race fatigue and injuries begin to take a toll and can play a part in the final outcome. But Caudrelier insists his team is fighting fit and motivated for the sprint to the finish.
“We are close to reaching our dream and what we have been working towards for so long, so this is the best way to stay motivated, to think about the result.”
Overall Results (after 9 of 11 legs)
1. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 60 points
2. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 59
3. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 57
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 48
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 36
6. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 29
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 26
Overall In-Port Race Results (after 8 of 11 races)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 50 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 42
3. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 36
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 35
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 23
6. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 19
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 16
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