Volvo Ocean Race: Red boat battle
Published on June 22nd, 2018
(June 22, 2018; Day 2) – The red boats of rivals Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE were locked in a bitter tussle for the Leg 11 lead – and overall Volvo Ocean Race victory – today as they led the fleet towards the Danish city of Aarhus.
One third of the way through the 963.4nm final leg from Gothenburg to The Hague, the seven teams were today split by less than 20 miles as they charged south through the Kattegat, the strait separating Sweden and Denmark.
After rounding the first course mark off Norway overnight, the leading pair profited from better breeze than their counterparts and extended the gap at the front.
With the second mark at Aarhus, on Denmark’s east coast, just 10 miles away, the two red boats were just one-mile apart as of 1200 UTC, keeping alive the battle that will grant overall race victory to whichever of Dongfeng, MAPFRE and Team Brunel finishes ahead of the others.
Their closest rivals on the race course, Vestas 11th Hour Racing, were a little under six miles back, in third place, while Brunel held down fourth but have work to do to narrow a gap of over 15 miles.
As well as being a monstrous battle between the crews, the race for the overall title is also a personal one.
Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier fought for the lead in the 2014-15 edition before a dismasting dropped them to third, while Brunel, under race veteran Bouwe Bekking’s leadership, finished second.
MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernández has raced four times but never lifted the trophy.
What’s more, if MAPFRE or Team Brunel win the race, either MAPFRE’s Blair Tuke or Brunel’s Peter Burling will become the first sailor ever to complete the ‘triple crown’: victory in the Olympics, the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race.
But one-third of the way through the challenging final leg, the focus has narrowed to the next manoeuvre, the next transition.
“This downwind section has been pretty tricky – in general there’s been a big extension,” MAPFRE’s Tuke said.
“We’ve gained quite a lot on Brunel, AkzoNobel and Vestas. We’ve managed to stay close to Dongfeng but for a little while it was pretty scary – they managed to get five or six miles in front of us. As we’ve come into Denmark we’ve compressed again.
“We’re now on one of our fastest sail setups, so all’s good but hopefully we can catch up even more, and, at some stage before The Hague, pass them.”
On Brunel the crew were cursing their luck as they watched the gap to the frontrunners grow – but had faith in the forecast which predicts the wind to drop coming into Aarhus, providing an opportunity to catch up.
“It’s been a case of ‘the rich get richer’ since rounding the mark off Norway,” Burling said. “The fleet’s been expanding a little, but there should be a pretty good compression as we come into Aarhus. Hopefully we can catch up with them again.”
Skipper Bouwe Bekking added: “We didn’t sail too smart yesterday afternoon and that has become expensive. At the rounding mark off Norway still in good contention, but then it went backwards. We will keep fighting until the end.”
Onboard Dongfeng, the crew were taking nothing for granted.
“We’ve sailed really nicely against MAPFRE and they’re still behind us,” Dongfeng watch captain Daryl Wislang said. “Let’s hope it can stay like that. It’s going to be a battle that’s for sure.”
After rounding the Aarhus mark the fleet will then head north to a virtual mark close to the Norwegian coast, which they will leave to port, before beginning the run south into the Leg 11 finish line at the Dutch capital of The Hague.
The current ETA sees the leaders arriving on Sunday afternoon local time.
Behind the leading group, the battle for sixth place on the overall leaderboard continues between SHK/Scallywag and Turn the Tide on Plastic. Currently, the pair are sailing bow to bow with a slight edge to the Scallywags.
The race course for Leg 11 was revised prior to the start, adjusting the length to 963.4nm to ensure fan-friendly arrival times along the route and finish.
After the start on June 21, the boats were sent west out of the islets dotting the entrance to Gothenburg before turning north to head to a turning mark just off the coast of Norway. Then, it’s a dive south to round a mark near the Danish city of Aarhus, followed by a return north around the top of Denmark before racing south to The Hague to the finish on June 24.
For crew list… click here.
Leg 11 – Position Report (12:00 UTC)
1. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 628.8 nm DTF
2. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 0.7 nm DTL
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 5.6 nm DTL
4. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 14.8 nm DTL
5. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 16.3 nm DTL
6. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 19.1 nm DTL
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 19.3 nm DTL
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTL – Distance to Lead
Overall Results (after 10 of 11 legs)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 65 points
2. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 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: The In-Port Race Series is a separate event, but 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.
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