Volvo Ocean Race: All to play for in finale

Published on June 15th, 2018

Dongfeng Race Team can’t buy a break but still remain tied for the lead of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. Even on points with MAPFE which has won 3 legs, and Brunel which has won 3 legs, Dongfeng hasn’t yet got a bullet.

Dongfeng Race Team had started the latest leg as the overall leader, and for a time during the leg looked poised to get that first win before disaster struck again.

Skipper Charles Caudrelier said his crew noticed the boat was going slower than it should have been as they blast-reached and then went upwind across the North Sea, watching team after team pass them. A case of the slows finally required drastic measures.

“We had a big problem with speed over the last 24 hours until we did a backdown,” shared Caudrelier. “Maybe we should have done the backdown 24 hours before. We checked every appendage many times and we saw nothing. It must have been at the top, top, top of the keel…I don’t know.”

Rather than padding their overall lead, the finishing order after Leg 10 has created an unprecedented climax to the eight month race.

“We are all on the same points if we include our elapsed time point, so I imagine for everybody it is going to be a very exciting finishing last leg,” said Caudrelier. “We will give it all we have and try to reach our first leg victory and maybe it will be fantastic, but we just have to be ahead of them – that is the only thing that we have to do. We can do it.”

French crew member Kevin Escoffier said he is relishing the battle ahead. “We all have the same points and it means that the order we arrive in The Hague among the top-three boats will decide the podium of this Volvo Ocean Race – it is as simple as it is crazy.

“Now we have to push,” he added. “Now there is one leg we have to win for sure and it is the next one. As we said when we crossed the line here, ‘the next one is for us.’ The only thing that we have to look for and the only way to be happy and to finish the Volvo Ocean Race is to be first.”

Fellow crew member Carolijn Brouwer of the Netherlands said all the sailors on Dongfeng kept their focus as they searched for solutions to the speed issue towards the end of the leg from Cardiff.

“It was amazing. Everyone stayed calm and everyone was really chipping in and trying to help out, giving ideas as to what we could do to change or make the boat go faster. I don’t think anyone lost the plot or got really angry. We held it together and tried to make the best of a really bad situation and in the end we managed it quite well,” she said.

Like Escoffier and their skipper Caudrelier, Brouwer is already looking forward to the final battle with MAPFRE and Team Brunel. “Everyone is really fired up,” she said. “Never has a race finish been so close and to be able to say that you are part of it is actually pretty exciting in itself.

“I know it is going to be nerve-wracking but everyone still has smiles on their faces. We have had a tough leg but we have five days to recover, which is plenty and I think on board the mood is still really, really good. We really want this win, we really want a leg win and everyone is fired up and ready to go for the next one and to give it everything we’ve got,” she added.

Chinese sailor Xue Liu, also known as Black, reflected on the difficult period when Dongfeng lost places in the wild conditions in the North Sea. “It was painful – to go from leading, to then being second across the top of Ireland and then towards the last day to be so slow upwind and to have boats pass us and be unable to do anything,” he said.

“I think we are going to fight 200 or 300 per cent. Over the whole race we have not won a leg and now it is time to get that win – win that last leg and win the whole race,” he added.

“I think we have come this far, we have been working on this project since January 2017 now and we are in a position to win,” said bowman Jack Bouttell. “We seem to be making life harder and harder for ourselves but it is all to play for, we don’t have to worry about the rest of the fleet at all and we just have to finish ahead of Brunel and MAPFRE and then we win, it is as simple as that.

“It is hard because the final stage is a short leg, so it is a bit of a lottery at times but I think we can do it for sure. We need to maximize the time we have here to iron out a few weaknesses and work from there,” Bouttell added.

Next up is the In Port race in Gothenburg on June 17 before the fleet leaves Gothenburg on June 21 for the final and all decisive leg towards the ultimate destination: The Hague. The boats are expected to finish the 700 nm course around Sunday, June 24.

For crew lists… click here.

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Leg 10 – Final Results
1. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), Finished June 14 at 20:42:01 UTC
2. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), Finished June 14 at 20:43:56 UTC
3. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), Finished June 14 at 21:02:53 UTC
4. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), Finished June 14 at 21:15:52 UTC
5. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), Finished June 14 at 21:32:00 UTC
6. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), Finished June 14 at 21:56:40 UTC
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), Finished June 14 at 23:55:03 UTC

Overall Results (after 10 of 11 legs)
1. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 65 points
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 65
3. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 64*
4. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 53
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 38
6. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 30
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 29

* One additional point will be awarded to the team with the best elapsed time at the conclusion of the race in The Hague. Currently, Dongfeng would win this point.
NOTE: Should there be a tie on the overall race leaderboard at the end of the offshore legs, the In-Port Race Series standings will be used to break the tie.

Starting June 10, Leg 10 was a 1,300-nautical mile sprint from Cardiff, Wales that takes the teams around the west coast of Ireland up to the northern tip of Scotland before heading east-southeast to Gothenburg, the home of Volvo.

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: Dongfeng

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