The Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe 2018 starts on November 4, 2018 from Saint Malo, France.

The Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe – one of the classic races in solo ocean sailing – is set for a record entry this year as it celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Charting a 3,542-nautical mile course from Saint-Malo in Brittany to Point-à-Pitre on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, the Route du Rhum was first held in 1978 and has since established itself as one of the big targets for the world’s top solo ocean racers.

This year’s race starts on November 4th and will be contested by 125 male and female skippers in six classes, headlined by the super-fast and spectacular giant Ultime trimarans, four of which will be flying for the first time on their foils.

There is also a very strong line-up in the IMOCA fleet, and a highly competitive Class40 division which accounts for almost half of the total entry. The remainder of the fleet is made up of the Multi-50 multihull class and a “Rhum” class of amateur entrants divided into multihulls and monohulls.

Race organiser Hervé Favre, Co-Chief Executive Officer of OC Sport, the Anglo-French event creation and management company which owns and runs the four-yearly race, said this is going to be a very special year.

“We are delighted to see such an incredible turn-out across the six classes to mark the anniversary,” said Favre. “This is the eleventh race in Route du Rhum history and the sheer size of the fleet in monohulls and multihulls will make for a unique spectacle both at the start and for fans to follow online.

“The course has become a classic of its kind and we expect – if the weather co-operates – that the outright record held by French sailor Loïck Peyron of seven days and 15 hours may well come under threat,” added Favre.

The race often begins with rough conditions in the English Channel and as the fleet crosses the northern fringes of the Bay of Biscay where many competitors have experienced boat-breaking seas in the past. Then, as the skippers head further west, they come under the influence of the northeast trade winds that can offer a fast downwind passage to the Caribbean.

The majority of the sailors entered this year are from France but there is a sizeable contingent from elsewhere including skippers from Britain, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Finland, Sweden, Italy, South Africa and the United States.

Undoubtedly much attention will focus on the Ultime category – an astonishing collection of fully flying trimarans that can travel more than 850 miles in a day. The line-up of six skippers in this division reads like a who’s who of the greatest solo sailors racing today.

The favourite will be the golden boy of French sailing Francois Gabart, fresh from his 42-day solo round-the-world record in 2017. Gabart won the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe in 2014 on an IMOCA monohull.

I have a very strong memory of my only participation in 2014, including the arrival in Guadeloupe,” said Gabart. “It was just magic: first an olfactory memory with all the smells of the earth arriving early in the morning; then the victory that I really went looking for despite the loss of my spinnaker – I was exhausted.”

Among the favourites in the 22-strong IMOCA fleet will be Britain’s Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss who finished in second place in the last Vendée Globe race and is currently awaiting delivery of a new boat for the next Vendée in two years’ time.

Thomson has never competed in the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe and he will be looking to try to repeat the feat of fellow countrywoman, Dame Ellen MacArthur, who won the race in the IMOCA fleet in 2002.

“Up until now it’s always been complicated to do the Route du Rhum, which didn’t fit into our programme. This year, there’s a space in our schedule and it’s time for me to compete in it,” said Thomson.

Among his rivals for glory will be the French skipper Jérémie Beyou who has just won the Volvo Ocean Race as part of the crew of Dongfeng Race Team. Beyou will be trying out the very latest foiling IMOCA design – his new boat named Charal – and his performance in the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe will be watched carefully as a form guide for the Vendée Globe.

The aim is to discover what the boat can do, but not in delivery mode,” said Beyou. “I need numbers, to see what she’s made of and to compare my performance with the others. As such, the idea is to put her through her paces.”

In the Class40 monohull division there will be stiff competition in a massive 53-boat fleet with the French sailors Maxim Sorel and Nicolas Troussel likely to start among the favourites. Giving them a run for their money will be two British skippers in this super-competitive fleet Phil Sharp, Sam Goodchild.

The race village at St Malo opens on October 24th with the race starting on November 4th. You can also follow our new English Twitter channel dedicated to the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe here.

 

Denis Van Weynbergh (Photo © Bernard Gergaud / EyeSea)

 

The new owner of Nandor Fa’s IMOCA, the Belgian skipper, Denis Van Weynbergh hopes to be able to compete in the Globe Series and reach a climax by taking part in the 2020 Vendée Globe. While for a long time, he has divided up his life between being head of a company and ocean racing, he is now dedicating all his time to his IMOCA project with the aim of becoming the first Belgian sailor to complete the Vendée Globe. He recently launched a highly original, artistic crowd-funding campaign. We met up with him to find out more

Denis, when did you first feel that you wanted to take part in the Vendée Globe?
“It suddenly came to me in 2001, when I was preparing for the Mini Transat. During a delivery trip, I moored up in Bénodet alongside Michel Desjoyeaux’s PRB, which had just won the Vendée Globe. My Pogo 6.50 looked a bit like that IMOCA, but on a much smaller scale of course. That’s when I started to imagine competing in the Vendée Globe. At the same time, it seemed to me to be a crazy idea and beyond my reach. Before thinking seriously about it, I needed to complete my first solo offshore race, the Mini Transat. I managed to do that. That race was a milestone for me and the Vendée Globe remained in the back of my mind. I then continued to gain experience on various types of boat, in particular on Class40s. I completed the Route du Rhum in 2010, the Quebec Saint-Malo in 2012, the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2013, the Fastnet Race in 2015…”
Denis Van Weynbergh

Denis Van Weynbergh (Photo © B. Gergaud / EyeSea )

What really led you to move to the IMOCA class?
“In Belgium, ocean racing is not as popular as in France. We only have 40 miles of coast and no real sailing culture. I tried to find some help in the market in Belgium for the 2016 Vendée Globe, but firms were not that keen. In fact, I understood that I needed to find a strong concept, an original idea, something creative. Last year, I met the photographer, Edouard Janssens, who has specialised in the creation of works of art based on photos of the iris, the coloured part of the eye. One thing led to another and the project, ‘Eye Sea’ was born? The aim is to offer partners the opportunity to acquire one of the 250 personalised iris photos that will form one single giant iris on the sails of my IMOCA. We’ll therefore be creating a work of art while working together in this crowd-funding project. A work of art that will go all the way around the world.”

Once you had defined the concept and set up the crowd-funding campaign, you had to find an IMOCA that was available. Why did you choose Nandor Fa’s former Spirit of Hungary?
“In late 2017, I was strolling around Les Sables d’Olonne on the Vendée Globe pontoon and I noticed that boat. From the outset, she seemed to me to be simple, solid and reliable. Exactly what I was looking for in my project, she suits my personality and my goals. I wanted a boat that had already completed the Vendée Globe without any major problems and that was the case for Nandor Fa’s boat, which finished in an honourable eighth place in the last race. I quickly got in contact with the boat captain, then Nandor. The deal was signed last June.”

Did your first sailing trips on her live up to your expectations?
“Yes. I had never sailed an IMOCA, but I knew everything was huge on these boats. That was confirmed during the first trips I was able to carry out. Everything is faster and is more physical on an IMOCA. You can’t carry out the slightest manoeuvre without planning ahead. You have to be methodical. Nandor Fa really thought about this boat with details that simplify life aboard her.”

For a long time, you managed to reconcile your professional life and ocean racing. Was that too complicated when dealing with a project as big as an IMOCA?
“Exactly. Preparing for the Vendée Globe is a full time job, when you look for the funding and do all the preparation on land and out at sea… particularly as for the moment, I’m taking care of the project alone. To dedicate myself entirely to the IMOCA project, I sold my delivery business PN Express World, in November 2017.”

What is your programme for the months ahead? Do you intend to compete in all of the races in the IMOCA Globe Series?
“Yes. The boat will be going into the yard in early November and is due to be relaunched in late January. In 2019 and 2020, I want to clock up as many miles of racing as I can. I can’t see myself taking part in the Vendée Globe and sailing in the Roaring Forties without having sailed fifteen to twenty thousand miles on my IMOCA. On the other hand, I won’t be competing in the Route du Rhum this year. My job for the moment is to find sponsors.”

So where are you in terms of the funding?
“My first partner has entered the adventure, the Belgian company, Pranarôm (which specialises in essential oils). They have brought around 15 % of the total budget that I estimate to be 2.5 million euros. The goal now is to start to sell the iris photos to individuals and companies. Ideally, I should have a headline partner, who would give their name to the boat, associating it with the name of the concept: ‘Eye-Sea… X or Y’.”

You can find out more about Denis Van Weynbergh’s project here:

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

Sled won the second race of the day at the Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week while regatta and circuit leaders Quantum Racing completed a disappointing day scoring a sixth then eighth. But over a day that saw more ups and downs for the majority of the teams, Doug DeVos’s crew still leads the regatta by four points just as they did this morning.

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

Sled, Azzurra and Onda all started from the committee boat end of the line but Sled had enough speed to work the middle left before crossing to the right. Their key move was finding a nice lift on the right to bring them up towards the starboard layline. A short hitch and Takashi Okura’s team led around the top mark ahead of Azzurra, with Platoon second and Onda third.

Sled hung on to win comfortably with Azzurra second but once more Platoon just pipped Onda at the finish line to make it a better day for last year’s world champions, Platoon going 3,3 for the day, Onda 4,4. Quantum Racing lead on 29pts, Azzurra are second on 33pts, and three boats, Platoon, Phoenix and Luna Rossa, are all on 34pts.

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

For full results, visit: http://bit.ly/2MznlZR
To watch the race again, visit http://bit.ly/2e6o3tR.

State-of-the-art boat tracking technology will allow 52 SUPER SERIES fans to follow their favourite teams at the Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week. Streaming is available via the 52 SUPER SERIES App, and is paired with expert commentary both on and off the water. All shows start 15-minutes before racing is due to start.

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

Sled won the second race of the day at the Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week while regatta and circuit leaders Quantum Racing completed a disappointing day scoring a sixth then eighth. But over a day that saw more ups and downs for the majority of the teams, Doug DeVos’s crew still leads the regatta by four points just as they did this morning.

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

Sled, Azzurra and Onda all started from the committee boat end of the line but Sled had enough speed to work the middle left before crossing to the right. Their key move was finding a nice lift on the right to bring them up towards the starboard layline. A short hitch and Takashi Okura’s team led around the top mark ahead of Azzurra, with Platoon second and Onda third.

Sled hung on to win comfortably with Azzurra second but once more Platoon just pipped Onda at the finish line to make it a better day for last year’s world champions, Platoon going 3,3 for the day, Onda 4,4. Quantum Racing lead on 29pts, Azzurra are second on 33pts, and three boats, Platoon, Phoenix and Luna Rossa, are all on 34pts.

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

For full results, visit: http://bit.ly/2MznlZR
To watch the race again, visit http://bit.ly/2e6o3tR.

State-of-the-art boat tracking technology will allow 52 SUPER SERIES fans to follow their favourite teams at the Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week. Streaming is available via the 52 SUPER SERIES App, and is paired with expert commentary both on and off the water. All shows start 15-minutes before racing is due to start.

 

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

 

 

Azzura (Photo © Max Ranchi )

Azzurra won the third race of the Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week after executing an excellent pin end start and leading around the top mark. Making a seemingly brave gybe set – the only boat to do so – they lead by over 100 metres through the leeward gate ahead of Alegre.

Alegre got back to within 40 metres of Azzurra on the second upwind, but while Azzurra hold on to win, Quantum Racing again steal second place on the final stages of the last run.
That second place leaves Quantum Racing leading overall on eight points, four points ahead of a four way tie for second to fifth places between Provezza, Azzurra, Alegre and Phoenix.

Photo © Max Ranchi

For full results, visit: http://bit.ly/2MznlZR
To watch the race again, visit http://bit.ly/2e6o3tR.

State-of-the-art boat tracking technology will allow 52 SUPER SERIES fans to follow their favourite teams at the Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week. Streaming is available via the 52 SUPER SERIES App, and is paired with expert commentary both on and off the water. All shows start 15-minutes before racing is due to start.

Photo © Max Ranchi

Bill Kneller’s (Newport, R.I.) Vento Solare crosses behind John Gowell’s (East Greenwich, R.I.) Temptress at last year’s Ida Lewis Distance Race. Fifty one teams have entered the 14th edition of the annual offshore adventure, which starts this Friday at 12:30 p.m. between Fort Adams and Rose Island. (Photo by Stephen Cloutier)

 

With 51 teams registered to compete, the 2018 Ida Lewis Distance Race will create quite the spectacle of sail when it starts at 12:30 p.m. on Friday (August 17) between Fort Adams and Rose Island. Prior to the gun, Ida Lewis Yacht Club’s Race Committee will decide – based on weather forecasts and sea conditions – which of four courses will be used in this 14th edition of the yearly round-trip offshore adventure.

“The courses range from 112 to 169 nautical miles and incorporate such iconic waypoints as Castle Hill, Brenton Reef, Block Island, Montauk Point, Martha’s Vineyard and Buzzards Tower,” said Race Chairman Pat Kennedy. “They are chosen with the best intention of having the fleet finish within 18-24 hours.”

Twenty teams on the roster show as hailing from Rhode Island, with many local sailors also sprinkled in amongst the out-of-town entries from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and as far away as Ohio, Florida, and Louisiana. Newport’s own Ken Read, a Volvo Ocean Race veteran and sailing world champion several times over, will take his place aboard the TP52 Spookie, whose captain is Newport’s Ben Quatromoni. Co-skippering the boat will be Miami’s Mark Watson and owner Steve Benjamin, who splits his time between Norwalk, Conn., and Jamestown, R.I. and has skippered in the race four times. “It’s one of my favorites,” said Benjamin, who last won in 2016. “I particularly like the challenge of deciding which side to take Block Island on the leg from Vineyard Tower to Montauk.” About his competition in the 15-boat IRC division Benjamin added: “Since the Bermuda Race, we know that both Privateer and Dreamcatcher are very fast.”

Privateer is Ron O’Hanley’s (Boston, Mass.) canting keel Cookson 50 that has made a name for itself throughout New England, and Dreamcatcher is a Swan 48 sailed by Stonington Connecticut’s Mudratz Offshore Program. The team won its class in the Newport to Bermuda Race and has joined the Ida Lewis Distance Race roster as a Youth Entry, which requires at least 40% of a crew to be within a certain age range to qualify. Middletown, R.I.’s Andy Burton will also field a Youth Entry in the five-boat PHRF Cruising Spinnaker class aboard his newly obtained Baltic 47Masquerade, while Young American YCC, will represent the Young American Sailing Academy of Rye, N.Y. as a Youth Entry in the 27-boat PHRF division. The team won its class here last year. “

We had a great time despite the fact it was really windy,” said Young American YCC’s coach Peter Becker. “The kids loved it and have sea stories to tell about surfing right through the lee of boats significantly larger than us.” This year, Newport’s Joe Cooper will stand in as coach aboard Young American YCC while Becker sails with the Academy’s second entry Gambler, a Reichel/Pugh 63 provided by the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Sailing Foundation. The team, entered in IRC division, is preparing for next year’s Transatlantic Race and qualifies as both a Youth and Collegiate Entry, the latter of which also has an age requirement for 40% of the crew.

Oakcliff Sailing of Oyster Bay, N.Y. will send no less than three Collegiate teams on Farr 40s that the organization uses for its sailing training programs. “Offshore racing is definitely what I came to do at Oakcliff,” said 24-year-old Brian Reilly (Mahopat, N.Y.) who will skipper Oakcliff Farr 40 Black. “I heard this race is a good time and I should do it.” His friend, the 17-year-old Jo Riley (Marion, Mass.), who will skipper Oakcliff Farr 40 Red, has sailed on a winning boat three times in the Ida Lewis Distance Race. “I definitely like it,” said Riley. “It’s a one-night sprint. You hunker down, go full throttle, and there’s no slacking off.”

Portsmouth, R.I.’s Paul Grimes, who has sailed the event four times on his J/35 Breakaway, hasn’t officially entered as a Collegiate Entry in PHRF division, but he’ll definitely be bringing along some local-area college sailing ringers, including his son Alden Grimes, who sails for Bodin College, Adrian van der Wal (Northeastern), Victoria Boatwright (Georgetown), and Collin Moffett (Princeton).

Newport’s Bill Kneller has skippered in the race every year since 2015 on his J/109 Vento Solare, with friends who sail with him regularly in the Tuesday night Jamestown Yacht Club race series. “We haven’t made the podium yet but are getting better each year,” he said. “Last year we were one of only 20 boats that endured the weather and finished the race.”

In the four-boat Doublehanded division, David Southwell (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) will be sailing the race for the first time in Alchemy, a J/121 that is new to him this year. His crew Stuart MacNeil has never sailed a doublehanded race before and this will only be Southwell’s second time to do so. “I’m preparing for the Bermuda One Two next year by doing shorthanded and solo races and deliveries. We’re really looking forward to this!”

Other defending champions are the father/son team of Stephen Murray Sr. and Stephen Murray Jr. (Metairie, Louisiana) aboard the Volvo 70 Warrior, the largest boat in the fleet, and Brian Cunha (Newport, R.I.) aboard the Ker 55 Irie 2.

Ida Lewis Yacht Club will host the skipper’s meeting and social on Thursday, August 16. A Sunset Awards Party at the club will celebrate the conclusion of racing on Saturday, August 18.

Sonny, winner of the Panerai Watch (Photo © George Bekris)

 

The 38th edition of the Marblehead Classic Yacht Regatta ran August 10th-12th at the Marblehead Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead, MA.  The Yacht club was founded in 1885  and was the perfect setting for the beautiful classic yachts. The race teams enjoyed the hospitality, parties and commaradie that is traditional among classic yacht racers.

Tough racing was called for Saturday for rain and lack of wind the sailors in this year’s Marblehead Classic Yacht Regatta were relieved when the rains let up and the sky cleared on Sunday. The Sunday conditions were favorable to get some racing in and the yachtsmen could not have been happier to get out on the course and get things moving.

The one-day race featured staggered starts, so that the smaller fleets like the International One Design and the schooners like the 128-foot “Altair” and the 160-foot “Columbia” could finish on corrected time – around the same time – and this was the case as the entire 50-strong fleet headed straight for the mouth of Marblehead Harbor on Sunday afternoon just off the lighthouse.

In the schooner fleet, the win in the Vintage Grand Classic went to the 63-foot schooner “When and If” with “Altair” second and the Schooner Columbia third.

The win was all in the family, however as the captain of the Schooner Columbia Seth Saltzman is the owner of the “When and If,” and his younger brother Dylan is her captain.

In the Vintage Corinthian Yacht – Spinnaker Division – first place went to the Sparkman & Stephens designed “Sonny,”  and the New York 32 “Siren,” who won the non-spinnaker division.

The Nathaniel Herreshoff designed Buzzard’s Bay 25 “Resolute,” won took first in the Grand Prix Yachts non-spinnaker fleet.

The 12-metre “Valiant,” owned by Gary Gregory of Marblehead won in the Grand Prix Yachts Spinnaker Division.

North American Circuit of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge begins with the following result at the end of the Marblehead weekend:

2018 Final Full Race Results (PDF Format)
2018 Results by Panerai Class Only (PDF Format)
2018 Order of Finish (PDF format)
2018 Series Results (PDF format)

View more photos of the event by George Bekris at Marblehead Corinthian Classic Yacht Regatta 2018

That’s a wrap to a great event and the classics will continue throughout New England during August and September.

 

 

Grundoon, Jim Grundy, St. David's Lighthouse Trophy; Glenn Family at prize giving Nic Douglass - AdventuresofaSailorGirl.com)

Grundoon, Jim Grundy, St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy; Glenn Family at prize giving Nic Douglass – AdventuresofaSailorGirl.com)

 

The St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy, Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Trophy, and 100-plus more awards were presented to conclude the 2018 Newport Bermuda Race.

(Hamilton, Bermuda, June 24, 2018)—His Excellency, the Governor of Bermuda, John Rankin, hosted the Newport Bermuda Race Prize-Giving on Saturday, welcoming hundreds of guests to the grounds of Government House and assisting with the presentation of more than 100 awards. It was a diverse, multi-generational group of sailors who came forward to receive prizes from the Governor and Jon Corless, commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, and Brad Willauer, commodore of the Cruising Club of America. James Macdonald, the RBYC Honourable Secretary, served as master of ceremonies, presenting the entire nine-page prize list.

Jim Grundy’s Grundoon won the famous St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy for the best corrected time in the largest division of 85 boats. Sailing with one daughter and two sons in the crew, Grundy, of Doylestown, Penn., made off with half a dozen other trophies including the William L. Glenn Family Participation Prize and the Dorade Trophy for vintage yachts over 25 years old. Grundy’s father purchased Grundoon, a Columbia 50, in 1968.

Wizard, a Volvo Ocean 70 owned by the Askew brothers, won the other lighthouse trophy—the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Trophy. Finishing first on corrected time among the highest-performance boats of the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division, the Askews picked up their second major win in six months following a victory at the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race last December. David and Peter Askew are from Sandy, Utah and Riderwood, Md., respectively. There were 22 entries in the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Division.

Orca, an Island Packet 38 owned by Harold and Mary Guidotti, of Westbrook, Conn., won the Finisterre Division of 40 boats and received the Carleton Mitchell Finisterre Trophy. The trophy is named for the three-time winning skipper and his boat, which coincidentally was also 38 feet long.

More trophy presentation photos (all credits Nic Douglass – AdventuresofaSailorGirl.com) clockwise from top left: Yankee Girl, Zachary Lee, Philip S. Weld Prize; E. Llwyd Ecclestone, Jr., Bermuda Race Roll of Honour; Eric Best, Feo, Cook’s Award; Dreamcatcher, Mudratz team, Stephens Brothers Youth Trophy.Complete results are on the Newport Bermuda Race website where the full prize list will be posted shortly. View the online version of this release.

Trophy presentation photos (all credits Nic Douglass – AdventuresofaSailorGirl.com) clockwise from top left: Grundoon, Jim Grundy, St. David’s Lighthouse Trophy; Grundoon, Jim Grundy and family, William L. Glenn Family Participation Prize; OrcaFinisterre Trophy, Harold Guidotti; Wizard, Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Trophy, Peter Askew.

Yankee Girl won the Philip S. Weld Prize for the best corrected time in the 15-boat Double-Handed Division. Skipper Zachary Lee of Vineyard Haven, Mass., accepted the prize, and his crew Leif Counter, of Pelham, N.Y., received the Moxie Prize, which is awarded in recognition of the other half of the winning double-handed crew.

The Swan 48 Dreamcatcher won the Stephens Brothers Youth Prize for the best performance by a youth division crew, with most of the crew between the ages of 14 and 23. The boat was entered in the race by the Mudratz, a youth-sailing non-profit organization in Eastern Connecticut.

Completing his 23rd Newport Bermuda Race, E. Llwyd Ecclestone, Jr., of West Palm Beach, Fla., was recognized at the Prize-Giving as a new member of the Bermuda Race Roll of Honour. Reflecting on his long-time crew and years of sailing together, Ecclestone offered their three rules of offshore sailing: “Eat well, respect the watch system, and there are no heroes on the boat.”

Eric Best of Feo received the Cook’s Award for perseverance and fortitude in cooking for a racing crew longer than anyone else in the race. Skippered by Best’s daughter, Isabel, the steel Joshua 47 Feo finished in 146 hours, 54 minutes, 17 seconds, a little more than 96 hours after Rambler 88 became the first boat to finish the race.

Dongfeng Race Team (Photo © George Bekris)

Dongfeng Race Team (Photo © George Bekris)

The Chinese-flagged Dongfeng Race Team has won the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18…
Dongfeng Race Team has won the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 in the closest finish in race history.
Skipper Charles Caudrelier led his team to victory on the final leg of the race, a 970-mile sprint from Gothenburg, Sweden to The Hague.
Incredibly, it marked the first leg win for the team — it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Three teams started Leg 11 of the race on Thursday in a dead heat on the overall leaderboard. The finishing order between MAPFRE, Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team at The Hague would determine their place on the overall race podium.

Each of those three teams led at various points on the leg and had their opportunities to grab the prize.

But it was Caudrelier and his crew who made a bold call on Saturday evening to take a coastal route to the finish, which squeezed them tight against the shoreline and separated from the other leaders by a series of Exclusion Zones.

“We were not in such a good position, but we trusted our choice and we pushed,” Caudrelier said. “The others didn’t follow us, but we believed and we won…”

The decision hurt the team in the short term as they tumbled down the leaderboard. But by Sunday morning, with less than 100 miles left to race, weather routing projections had the top boats finishing within minutes of each other. None had been able to break away overnight, despite the significant splits on the race course.

“We knew that we would fall behind initially and that if it came good it would only be at the end. The last position report (1300 UTC on Sunday) we were 27-miles from the finish and they were 20-miles and we thought it was over. But then I did a small weather routing and it showed we could end up one-mile ahead so I woke everyone up and said, ‘let’s push!’”

As the teams finally converged again on Sunday afternoon, just a few miles from the finish, it was Dongfeng Race Team, flying down the coast from the north sliding in front of the offshore group, to earn their first leg win, propelling Caudrelier’s team to overall victory.

“We always trusted each other. Nobody thought we were going to win this last leg, but I had a good feeling,” an emotional Caudrelier said, after thanking his supporters and team. “I said ‘we can’t lose, we can’t lose, we can’t lose’… and we won!”

The overall results make this the closest finish in the 45-year history of the race and marks the first win for a Chinese-flagged team. It also means Carolijn Brouwer and Marie Riou were on board as the first women sailors to win the Volvo Ocean Race.

Xabi Fernández’s MAPFRE was third on the leg, which put the team into second overall.

“It has been tough,” Fernández admitted. “We sailed very well the whole way around the world and on this leg as well, so naturally we’re a bit disappointed. We were very, very close this time, but it was not quite enough. So we have to say congratulations to Dongfeng who sailed a little bit better than us.”

Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking would have liked nothing more than to win the race for the first time in eight tries with a home finish in The Netherlands. But it wasn’t to be. His fourth place leg finish left the team in third place overall.

“Third place, still on the podium, I think we can be pretty proud of that as a team,” he said. “We thought we had made the right choice (to go further offshore) and we expected a windshift. It came 90-minutes too late and that was the race. But that’s yacht racing. And of course we have to congratulate Dongfeng and MAPFRE for their results.”

Second place on the final leg into The Hague was Dutch skipper Simeon Tienpont and his team AkzoNobel, who had previously secured fourth place on the overall leaderboard.

“It’s incredible to finish on the podium in our hometown,” Tienpont said. “We would have loved to have been fighting into The Hague for the final podium but to have set the 24-hour speed record and to get six podium finishes in the race is a testament to the job everyone on our team – on the boat and on shore – have done.”

Vestas 11th Hour Racing had already been locked into fifth place on the scoreboard and after a promising start to Leg 11, had a disappointing seventh place finish on the leg.

“We have a great group of folks on this team,” skipper Charlie Enright said. “We’ve been through a lot and I’m not sure any other group could have dealt with the challenges we have faced the way we did. It’s something special and we’re going to continue to work together moving forward. This was a tough way to go out certainly, but we have one more opportunity with the In-Port Race this weekend.”

That In-Port Race, scheduled for Saturday afternoon, will determine the sixth and seventh place positions in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. Both SHK/Scallywag and Turn the Tide on Plastic finished the Volvo Ocean Race on equal points.

The tie-break mechanism is the In-Port Race Series, where David Witt’s Scallywag team currently holds the lead. But Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic is just three points behind and a strong finish on Saturday could lift them off the bottom of the leaderboard.

“We can’t help but smile today. We’ve done it,” said Caffari. “This leg was like the longest In-Port Race ever. A lot of corners to go around, and we gave it 100 per cent and left nothing in the tank.”

For David Witt, the finish was bittersweet the loss of John Fisher overboard in the Southern Ocean top of mind.

“I have very mixed emotions right now,” Witt said dockside immediately after finishing. “I’m incredibly proud of our team both on and off the water. We’re very tight and we have gone through a lot… But I’m also sad of course. I didn’t finish it with my best mate (John Fisher) who we started with. So very mixed emotions, but I’m glad we finished it.”

The teams will celebrate their accomplishments and take well-earned rest on Monday. The rest of the week will see activities in The Hague building towards the final In-Port Race and Awards Night on June 30.

Volvo Ocean Race Leg 11 Final Leaderboard — Saturday 23 June
1. Dongfeng Race Team – 3 days, 3 hours, 22 minutes, 32 seconds
2. team AkzoNobel – 3 days, 3 hours, 38 minutes, 31 seconds
3. MAPFRE – 3 days, 3 hours, 39 minutes, 25 seconds
4. Team Brunel – 3 days, 3 hours, 45 minutes, 52 seconds
5. Turn the Tide on Plastic – 3 days, 3 hours, 56 minutes, 56 seconds
6. SHK / Scallywag – 3 days, 4 hours, 01 minutes, 32 seconds
7. Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 3 days, 4 hours, 05 minutes, 36 seconds

Volvo Ocean Race Overall Points Leaderboard after Leg 11
1. Dongfeng Race Team – 73 points
2. MAPFRE – 70 points
3. Team Brunel – 69 points
4. team AkzoNobel – 59 points
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 39 points
6. SHK / Scallywag – 32 points *
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic – 32 points *

* 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.