Ya​nn Riou​ Dongfen​g Race T​eam

Charles Caudrelier deep in thought (Photo by Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team

 200 miles to go. After 9 months and nearly 40,000 miles
Dongfeng slenderest of leads over main rivals Brunel and Mapfre, but seems like it will not mean much this evening.

Caudrelier: “For us its easy to go from 3rd place to 5th place (overall), and also to come back to second. Everything can happen still”

The podium of the Volvo Ocean Race might just come down to a total lottery tonight as wind forecasts predict a difficult transition as Charles Caudrelier describes “from the current strong southerly winds that have carried Dongfeng up the North Sea, to some light easterly winds that will should get us to the finish line. Its going to be stressful”.In between potentially little or no wind at all – during the early evening tonight in theory. The battleground will probably be between Hanstholm and Skagen, the two towns with a bay between them, that mark the northern tip of Denmark. But even now the compression is starting, from Yanndirect this morning “Still coming back from behind. Less than 4 miles, now. Nothing we can do about it. Not a nice feeling”. More often than not in ocean racing, the rich get richer – but this time its not going to work like that. The guys (and girls) behind are going to sail on in pressure as the boats in front that worked so hard to grind out their leads, will stop in the transition zone between the old and new winds.The warm front moving from the UK east, that has been chasing the fleet since they left, is going to slow down and stall before it gets to them, at least at surface level. Higher up in the atmosphere its forecast to continue east – this differential between up high and at the surface, will provide the conditions for a new low to form, bringing new winds – but the transition could be long – and in the meantime somehow the boats have to get from the old to the new. This in effect should allow almost all, if not all, the backmarkers to sail straight to the front, with the leaders helpless.

It will be tragic if the entire race comes down to luck, but then this is part of ocean racing. Since Dong Feng means ’winds from the east bringing freshness and energy’ and Aeolus being the Guardian of the Winds – on land we can only hope and pray to whatever Gods we believe in, that luck will be on our side, and that we will get the podium finish we deserve!

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May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) completed a triumphant Leg 7 early on Wednesday to bolster their hopes of finishing with a podium place in the Volvo Ocean Race and also keep alive their hopes of overall victory

. MAPFRE arrives to Lisbon in second position after Leg 7 from Newport. MAPFRE Skipper Iker Martinez and Team Brunel Skipper Bouwe Bekking congratulate each other on stage. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race )

May 27, 2015. MAPFRE arrives to Lisbon in second position after Leg 7 from Newport. MAPFRE Skipper Iker Martinez and Team Brunel Skipper Bouwe Bekking congratulate each other on stage. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race )

Leg 7
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

TBRU
TBRU FIN – 09d 11h 09m 49s
MAPF
MAPF FIN – 09d 11h 31m 39s
ALVI
ALVI FIN – 09d 12h 50m 49s
DFRT
DFRT FIN – 09d 12h 51m 44s
ADOR
ADOR FIN – 09d 13h 24m 34s
SCA1
SCA1 FIN – 09d 15h 32m 38s
VEST
VEST Did Not Start

Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard here º MAPFRE given two-point penalty – read more

– Team Brunel edge home ahead in transatlantic leg
– MAPFRE chase them all the way into Lisbon
– Team Alvimedica beat Dongfeng in thrilling dogfight
– Team Vestas Wind are reunited with rest of the fleet

Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

LISBON, Portugal, May 27 – Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) completed a triumphant Leg 7 early on Wednesday to bolster their hopes of finishing with a podium place in the Volvo Ocean Race and also keep alive the possibility of overall victory.

Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

The Dutch boat sailed a near faultless transatlantic stage, edging MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) into second, just under 22 minutes behind.

Behind them, Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) edged out long-time leg leaders, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), after an enthralling dogfight over the final miles.

The Chinese-backed boat was caught by Enright’s crew in the early hours of Wednesday, but battled their way back and looked sure to overtake them again before a botched tack ruined their chances.

Leg 7 arrivals in Lisbon; Team Alvimedica and Dongfeng Race Team take the fight right to the finish line. (Photo by  Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Leg 7 arrivals in Lisbon; Team Alvimedica and Dongfeng Race Team take the fight right to the finish line. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

They lost out by just 55 seconds after nearly nine days and 13 hours of sailing across 2,800 nautical miles (nm).

With overall leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) finishing fifth ahead of Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), the overall race standings are left finely poised.

The Emirati crew now have a five-point lead over Dongfeng Race Team with two short legs to sail, while Team Brunel are a point further adrift of Charles Caudrelier’s crew.

Leg 7 arrivals in Lisbon; MAPFRE come in to Lisbon in second place. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 27, 2015. Leg 7 arrivals in Lisbon; MAPFRE come in to Lisbon in second place. (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race)

Caudrelier made no attempt to hide his disappointment after leading the leg for so long and seeing a podium place disappear in the final miles.

“I’m feeling very bad, very upset and very sad,” he summed up. “We deserved better, but I guess that’s life.

“Most of all, I’m upset with myself because my crew did a great job and I made a huge mistake – and I don’t accept mistakes. We really missed a chance in this leg with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing finishing fifth.”

Few sailors in the fleet will savour a win over one of the race’s trademark legs more than Team Brunel’s 51-year-old skipper, Bouwe Bekking, in his record-equalling seventh appearance.

 Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race )

May 27, 2015. Team Brunel arrives to Lisbon in first position after Leg 7 from Newport. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race )

He has certainly experienced the ups and downs of racing across the Atlantic. Few will forget the agonising position he faced in 2006 before he was finally forced to abandon his sinking movistar boat during the same stage of that Volvo Ocean Race.

Bekking insisted last week that he had not lost ‘a single night’s sleep’ over the incident and the confident way that Team Brunel sailed the leg would bear that out.

Team Brunel were harried all the way over the past 24 hours by both MAPFRE and Dongfeng Race Team, especially over the final few miles when the breeze dropped to almost zero in the Tagus River as they approached the Lisbon finish.

“We sailed a tremendous leg but just at the end when there was no wind, it was getting a bit gnarly,” said Bekking. “But we pulled it off.”

The victory was achieved with two newcomers on board, Adam Minoprio (NZL) and Timo Hagoort (NED), the latter replacing the injured Gerd-Jan Poortman (NED).

“It was good to have those young guys on board, they did a fantastic job,” added Bekking.

Team SCA crossed the line, some four hours and 22 minutes behind Team Brunel (see panel above), after an action-packed transatlantic leg in which they sailed within the pack for much of the nine days and at one stage threatened a podium finish after taking a bold strategic choice around the Azores High.

May 27, 2015. Leg 7 to Lisbon onboard Team SCA. Day 10. The team sit 8 miles out from the finish line in Lisbon with little to no wind.

May 27, 2015. Leg 7 to Lisbon onboard Team SCA. Day 10. The team sit 8 miles out from the finish line in Lisbon with little to no wind. (Photo by Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race )

The final two stages, to Lorient (France) and then Gothenburg (Sweden) via a pit-stop in The Hague (Netherlands), will once again be contested by seven boats.

Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) rejoin the fleet for the first time since November 29 when the boat was grounded on a reef in the Indian Ocean.

After a four-month rebuild in the Persico boatyard in Bergamo, Italy, the boat was transported by sea and road to Lisbon, arriving a few hours before the rest of the fleet in the small hours of Wednesday morning.

Over the next few days, the rig will be stepped ahead of the Danish-backed team’s competitive comeback on June 6 in the Lisbon In-Port Race. Leg 8 to Lorient, a relative sprint at 647nm, begins a day later.

The race concludes on June 27 with the In-Port Race in Gothenburg after nine months and 38,739nm of sailing, visiting 11 ports and every continent.

Current latest standings (low points wins, In-Port Race Series splits ties): 1) Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 16 pts, 2) Dongfeng Race Team 21, 3) Team Brunel 22, 4) MAPFRE 26, 5) Team Alvimedica 27, 6) Team SCA 41, 7) Team Vestas Wind (Denmark) 52 (DNS).

MAPFRE  Wins the Team Vestas Wind Newport  In-Port  Race (Photo by Miranda Hoang)

MAPFRE Wins the Team Vestas Wind Newport In-Port Race (Photo by Miranda Hoang)

 

Spanish boat MAPFRE, boosted by the return of their skipper Iker Martinez, claimed their first win of the Volvo Ocean Race in-port series on Saturday in front of thousands of spectators.

In a day of light winds and overcast skies, the start was all-important and MAPFRE were away to a beauty on the 9.2-nautical mile (17-kilometre) course.

With Martinez at the helm, the red boat raced to the first mark with a narrow lead over Team Alvimedica (Turkey/US) and gradually stretched their advantage in a race completed in just under an hour.

The result leaves the Spanish crew still trailing the fleet in the overall standings on 31 points, but they have closed the gap considerably after a string of largely disappointing performances prior to Saturday.

MAPFRE  Wins the Team Vestas Wind Newport  In-Port  Race (Photo by Miranda Hoang)

MAPFRE Wins the Team Vestas Wind Newport In-Port Race (Photo by Miranda Hoang)

Martinez, 37, was delighted to return to the winner’s circle having returned to lead the crew after missing the previous leg due to Olympic commitments.

The helmsman from San Sebastian won gold in the 2004 Athens Games and silver in Beijing 2008, but finished disappointingly down the field in the 2012 London Olympics.

He is determined to put that right in Rio de Janeiro next year, but his commitment to his preparation has led to his missing several legs in this edition of the nine-month Ocean Race which started last October.

“We are improving slowly and that’s the way we want to do these things,” said Martinez after the victory. “Today we were first and we’re feeling super good.”

Team Alvimedica, led by Newport local Charlie Enright, clung on to second place while Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing stole third position from the all-women crew of Team SCA, who made a damaging positioning error mid-race.

The result puts Abu Dhabi, led by Briton Ian Walker, back on top of the overall in-port race series standings on 19 points. The series will count towards a separate trophy and be used to split ties in the main offshore competition.

Volvo Ocean Race In-Port race fleet off Fort Adams, Rhode Island. Photo by Miranda Hoang)

The six boats in the fleet will begin the seventh leg, a 2,800-nautical mile (4,815km) trip to Lisbon, Portugal, on Sunday at 1800GMT.

Abu Dhabi lead by six points from China’s Dongfeng Race Team, with three legs to complete in the nine-month, 38,739-nautical mile (71,745km) marathon.

The race concludes on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden, having visited 11 ports and every continent.

Photo by George Bekris

Photo by George Bekris

 

Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Newport results 

Course: 3 laps.
Bearing to top gate: 230
Distance to top: 1.4nm, extended to 1.8nm on the 3rd lap.
Total distance sailed: 9.2nm
TWD: 180-185
TWS: 8kts

Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Newport Results:

1. MAPFRE 14:55:41 – 1pt
2. Team Alvimedica 14:56:39 – 2pts
3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 14:57:38 – 3pts
4. Team SCA 14:57:57 – 4pts
5. Team Brunel 14:58:17 – 5pts
6. Dongfeng Race Team 14:59:09 – 6pts
DNS. Team Vestas Wind – 8pts

In-Port series Overall standings:

1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 19pts
2. Team Brunel – 20pts
3. Team SCA – 24pts
4. Dongfeng Race Team – 27pts
5. Team Alvimedica – 28pts
6. MAPFRE – 31pts
7. Team Vestas Wind  – 52pts

Volvo Ocean Race Village (Photo by George Bekris)

Volvo Ocean Race Village (Photo by George Bekris)

Crew List for Team Vestas Wind Newport In-Port Race:

Dongfeng Race Team Charles Caudrelier FRA Kevin Escoffier FRA Thomas Rouxel FRA Martin Strömberg SWE Chen Jin Hao (Horace) CHN Pascal Bidegorry FRA Sidney Gavignet FRA Jiru Yang (Wolf) CHN Yann Riou FRA (OBR)

Team Alvimedica Charles Enright USA William Oxley AUS Alberto Bolzan ITA Mark Towill USA Sébastien Marsset FRA Nick Dana USA Ryan Houston NZL Dave Swete NZL Amory Ross USA (OBR)

MAPFRE Iker Martínez ESP Xabi Fernández ESP Jean-Luc Nélias FRA Rob Greenhalgh GBR André Fonseca BRA Antonio Cuervas-Mons ESP Carlos Hernández ESP Guillermo Altadill ESP Francisco Vignale ARG (OBR)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing Ian Walker GBR Simon Fisher GBR Daryl Wislang NZL Adil Khalid UAE Luke Parkinson AUS Justin Slattery IRL Roberto Bermúdez de Castro ESP Phil Harmer AUS Matt Knighton USA (OBR)

Team Brunel Bouwe Bekking NED Andrew Cape AUS Jens Dolmer DEN Pablo Arrarte ESP Louis Balcaen BEL Adam Minoprio NZL Rokas Milevicius LTU Timo Hagoort NED Stefan Coppers NED (OBR)

Team SCA Sam Davies GBR Carolijn Brouwer NED Dee Caffari GBR Abby Ehler GBR Annie Lush GBR Elodie-Jane Mettraux SUI Stacey Jackson AUS Libby Greenhalgh GBR Liz Wardley AUS Sally Barkow USA Sophie Ciszek AUS Anna-Lena Elled SWE (OBR)

Photo by George Bekris

Photo by George Bekris

May 4, 2015. Leg 6 to Newport onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Day 15. Some waves hit harder than others.

Leg 6 to Newport onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Day 15. Some waves hit harder than others. (Photo by Sam G reenfield/ Dongfeng Race Team/ Volvo Ocean Race)

Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) felt the familiar presence of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) to their stern on Wednesday as the thrilling Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race headed for a potential ‘photo finish’ in Newport, Rhode Island .

May 5, 2015. Leg 6 Newport onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Day 16.  Roberto Bermudez 'Chuny' wipes his eyes backlit by a magnificent sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.  (Photo by Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 5, 2015. Leg 6 Newport onboard Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing. Day 16. Roberto Bermudez ‘Chuny’ wipes his eyes backlit by a magnificent sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo by Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing / Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Leg 6
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

DFRT
DFRT 0.0 0.0 157 22.2
ADOR
ADOR 6.0 1.7 163 21.7
TBRU
TBRU 18.7 0.5 175 21.7
MAPF
MAPF 29.4 0.9 186 21.8
ALVI
ALVI 53.7 3.3 210 20.6
SCA1
SCA1 129.8 27.3 286 12.8
VEST
VEST Did Not Start

Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard here º MAPFRE given two-point penalty – read more

Dongfeng and Azzam set to battle it out to the finish
– Block Island decision could make or break leaders
Follow the Leg 6 climax all the way to Newport

ALICANTE, Spain, May 6 – Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) felt the familiar presence of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) to their stern on Wednesday as the thrilling Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race headed for a potential ‘photo finish’ in Newport, Rhode Island.

The Emirati boat, overall race leaders with seven points to spare from Dongfeng, have stuck to Caudrelier’s crew like glue for the last 24 hours.

The arch rivals were still just over 150 nautical miles (nm) from the finish of a 5,010nm stage from Itajaí, Brazil, at 0940 UTC on Wednesday after nearly 17 days of head-to-head racing since setting out on April 19.

Dongfeng Race Team held a narrow 6nm lead, but the final few hours before a probable Thursday morning finish could yet upset their hopes of a second stage victory following their Leg 3 triumph sailing to their home port of Sanya back in late January.

The boats are shortly exiting the Gulf Stream in good winds and will sail into reaching conditions of some 18 knots, the Race’s official meteorologist, Gonzalo Infante, reported on Wednesday.

They will then run into squally conditions, again with gusts of around 18 knots, before the westerly wind which is driving them turns north-east late afternoon/early evening UTC time.

Towards the end of the day, between 2100-2400 UTC, the boats will run into a relative brick wall in the form of a cold front for the last 30nm or so from Block Island onwards.

That could finally split the two – laterally at least – when they opt to go east or west and the decision could make or break either of them.

No wonder, then, that Infante is predicting: “We could be in for a photo finish.”

 Leg 6 to Newport onboard Team Brunel. Day 15. Rokas Milevicius stacks the sheets to the high side of the boat when the wind suddenly picks up. (Photo by Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race )

Leg 6 to Newport onboard Team Brunel. Day 15. Rokas Milevicius stacks the sheets to the high side of the boat when the wind suddenly picks up. (Photo by Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race )

The three boats behind them – Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) and Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) (see panel above) – were still battling desperately to stay in touch in the hope that either of the front two could make an error in the final straight.

 Leg 6 to Newport onboard MAPFRE. Day 15. Night watch under the moon with Rafael Trujillo (Photo by   Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE / Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 6 to Newport onboard MAPFRE. Day 15. Night watch under the moon with Rafael Trujillo (Photo by
Francisco Vignale / MAPFRE / Volvo Ocean Race)

Meanwhile, at the back of the fleet, Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) lost significant ground in the last 24 hours with all hope of a first podium finish seemingly lost.

May 3, 2015. Leg 6 to Newport onboard Team SCA. Day 14. Sam Davies drives through the evening gybe. (Corinna Halloran / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race )

May 3, 2015. Leg 6 to Newport onboard Team SCA. Day 14. Sam Davies drives through the evening gybe. (Corinna Halloran / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race )

The mood on board Azzam is of high excitement. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing have already won two legs including the toughest of them all, Leg 5 through the Southern Ocean, and are hungry for another.

Their onboard reporter, Matt Knighton, summed up on Tuesday night: “Right now we need to pull out all the secrets we’ve got. In the breezy downwind conditions of the darkness, they’ve (Dongfeng) managed to sail lower and faster towards the mark and extended to 3nm ahead.

“We’ve found at least 10 rabbits in this magic hat of ours this leg – we just need to find one more.”

The boats will spend 10 days in Newport, hosting the race for the first time, before heading back across the Atlantic to Lisbon in Leg 7 on May 17.

Leg 6 to Newport onboard Team Alvimedica. Day 15. Nick Dana finishes hanging on the J1 jib before peeling to the smaller sail in a building breeze. Through the cold front, it's back upwind in 15-20 knots north towards Newport and colder water, 750 miles away. (Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race )

May 04, 2015. Leg 6 to Newport onboard Team Alvimedica. Day 15. Nick Dana finishes hanging on the J1 jib before peeling to the smaller sail in a building breeze. Through the cold front, it’s back upwind in 15-20 knots north towards Newport and colder water, 750 miles away. (Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race )

May 3, 2015. Leg 6 to Newport onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Day 14. This boat gets so damn steep (Photo by Sam Greenfield/Team Dongfeng/Volvo Ocean Race).

May 3, 2015. Leg 6 to Newport onboard Dongfeng Race Team. Day 14. This boat gets so damn steep (Photo by Sam Greenfield/Team Dongfeng/Volvo Ocean Race).

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet found fair winds rather then the ill fortune of repute as they raced through the Bermuda Triangle in the thrilling Leg 6 race towards Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on Monday .

 

Leg 6
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

DFRT
DFRT 0.0 0.0 844 16.3
TBRU
TBRU 7.4 0.3 851 16.3
ADOR
ADOR 10.7 2.1 854 16.9
MAPF
MAPF 27.8 2.2 871 17.3
ALVI
ALVI 29.6 1.8 873 17
SCA1
SCA1 82.9 4.5 926 16.1
VEST
VEST Did Not Start

Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard here º MAPFRE given two-point penalty – read more

– Sailors admit fatigue in relentless ‘grinding of nerves’
– The Bermuda Triangle – a menace or a myth?
– Check out the run-in to Newport on our App

ALICANTE, Spain, May 4 – The Volvo Ocean Race fleet found fair winds rather then the ill fortune of repute as they raced through the Bermuda Triangle in the thrilling Leg 6 race towards Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on Monday. They all have under 1,000 nautical miles (nm) to go.

The six boats had feared a slow-down and fleet compression through an area of low pressure mid-Atlantic in the geographic triangle that separates Bermuda, Costa Rica and Miami, but instead the crews continued virtually unhindered.

Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), so determined to close the seven-point gap on overall race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), continued to hold a slight 7.4nm advantage in the latest position report on Monday (0940 UTC).

Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) led the chasing pack with Azzam hot on their heels 3.3nm astern of them (see panel above). The three had opened up a small gap over MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP), who were having their own dogfight with Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), some 17nm behind Ian Walker’s crew.

MAPFRE suffered a brief scare when the boat was knocked down to crash flat on its side, before it swifly righted itself courtesy of swift teamwork among the crew.

Team SCA, to the east of those two packs, were still struggling to keep pace, some 82.9nm behind Dongfeng.

The six boats are expected to escape the Bermuda Triangle later in the day and then face one last major gybe on Tuesday evening before the final sprint for the finish line after an absorbing 5,010nm leg.

Many of the sailors have been admitting that the relentless close quarter sailing of six well-matched crews on identical Volvo Ocean 65 boats is beginning to take its toll on nerves and body alike after seven months at sea.

Charles Caudrelier, skipper of the stage leaders Dongfeng Race Team, summed up: “According to the clouds and narrow corridors of wind, we have good and bad phases. It grinds down the nerves. The one-design (boat) has totally changed the regatta on the water.”

At the other end of the fleet, Sam Davies, of Team SCA, is equally feeling the pace. “I feel like the last seven months of racing is taking its toll on my body and I am trying to play catch-up in order to be able to do my job properly,” she wrote. “This racing is a crazy life.”

The boats are forecasted to arrive in Newport on May 7 after 17 days of sailing from Itajaí, Brazil. They will then have 10 days in dock for maintenance before setting off for the final transatlantic crossing to Lisbon, Portugal.

There are then two more legs taking in France (Lorient), The Netherlands (The Hague) and Sweden, with the race concluding on June 27 in Gothenburg after nine months of racing.

 

Into the Southern Ocean for Team Dongfeng  (Photo by Ya​nn Riou/​ Dongfen​g Race T​eam)

Into the Southern Ocean for Team Dongfeng (Photo by Ya​nn Riou/​ Dongfen​g Race T​eam)

“For Wolf and Black its one hell of a baptism, and for our team, the big challenge of this Volvo Ocean Race” – Charles Caudrelier

Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier sent his first report from onboard Dongfeng on Leg 5 to Itajai, Brazil:

The first miles of this leg were truly magnificent.
Sailing along the New Zealand coast is exceptionally beautiful and interesting.
The start of this leg confirmed that the [performance] level of this race doesn’t stop increasing, and its more and more homogenous across the fleet.

There were at least 5 changes of leader in the first 24 hours and the smallest of errors were very expensive. A wrong sail choice when we were sailing down the coast cost us some precious miles, and pinned us back in an unfavourable position for the last 24 hours. But looking ahead at what is waiting for us before Cape Horn, this deficit is negligible and the next 10 days of racing will be full of traps and speed races where sail choices will be complicated, yet fundamental to the leaderboard. In certain conditions a sail change is sometimes impossible and we have to really slow down to do it. A bad sail choice can quickly cost a hundred miles.

For Dongfeng this leg will be tough, its in these difficult conditions and strong winds that we feel the lack of experience of our Chinese sailors. Even if they are showing remarkable bravery, its an extra pressure on all of us, and notably on me as skipper. I’m responsible for them in the bad weather and I have to judge all the time what we are capable of doing or not [in terms of safety]. In previous legs we had some margin for error, but in the south there are some errors we simply can’t commit. We have trained in some bad weather, but they have never experienced more than 24 hours of rough racing conditions. And in front of us are 4,500 miles of racing to Cape Horn in Southern Ocean storms, and we have to try to keep the same pace as the seasoned sailors and highly experienced teams for the next 10 days.

For Wolf and Black its one hell of a baptism, and for our team, the big challenge of this Volvo.

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Wet, noisy and violent as these images show from our onboard reporter, Yann Riou.

“The situation onboard is hard, I got seasick and it’s very bad. Eric is sick too. The wind speed is up to 30 knots, and the boat keeps crashing” – Black

Wet, noi​sy and v​iolent c​ondition​s onboar​d as Don​gfeng wi​th 30 kn​ots of b​reeze in​ 5–6 met​re waves​.
Charles ​Caudreli​er grind​ing onbo​ard Dong​feng as ​waves cr​ash over​ the dec​k.
Kevin Es​coffier ​cleaning​ the hal​yards af​ter a sa​il chang​e onboar​d Dongfe​ng.
Action o​n deck a​s Dongfe​ng try t​o fix th​eir lack​ of spee​d.
Pascal g​ives Cha​rles a q​uick upd​ate onbo​ard Dong​feng.
Cleaning​ the rop​es after​ a manoe​uvre onb​oard.
Dongfeng​ cross t​he Inter​national​ Datelin​e in wet​ conditi​ons.

 

 

March 14, 2015. New Zealand Herald In-Port Race: Winner Team SCA, second position for Team Brunel and third for MAPFRE (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

March 14, 2015. New Zealand Herald In-Port Race: Winner Team SCA, second position for Team Brunel and third for MAPFRE (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race)

 Team SCA became the only crew in the Volvo Ocean Race to claim two in-port victories on Saturday after a thrilling start-to-finish win in Auckland (full story below).

In-Port AUCKLAND total
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 6 14
Team Brunel 2 14
Team SCA 1 16
Dongfeng Race Team 4 18
Team Alvimedica 5 20
MAPFRE 3 25
Team Vestas Wind 8* 36

* Did Not Start | ** Did Not Finish | *** Retired | **** Disqualified | ***** Given Redress | ****** Provisional

– All women’s crew dominate in ‘City of Sails’
– Runners-up Team Brunel move joint top in standings

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, March 14 – Team SCA became the only crew in the Volvo Ocean Race to claim two in-port victories on Saturday after a thrilling start-to-finish win in Auckland – “by keeping it simple”.

It was a fight all the way, however, in surely the most exciting in-port race in the 2014-15 edition with Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) narrowly beaten to the line by Sam Davies’ (GBR) all-women crew.

Afterwards, the women’s boat’s navigator Libby Greenhalgh (GBR) summed up their success in the New Zealand Herald In-Port Race: “We won it because we kept it simple, kept our manoeuvres to a minimum and that’s what paid out for us.”

Team Brunel skipper Bekking, however, had the consolation of moving joint top of the In-Port Race standings on 14 points with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) who lost out in their own enthralling tussle with Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) for fifth place.

The Turkish/American boat ran down ‘Azzam’ with barely metres to spare at the finish line, cheered on by fans in an absolutely packed Auckland harbour.

The Emirati boat retains the edge, however, thanks to the best individual results overall in the series (see panel above).

Just as in their previous in-port success in Abu Dhabi in early January, Davies and her crew have shown in the short races they are more than a match for their male rivals and this success will be another confidence-booster ahead of the weather-delayed Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajaí.

“We’re really happy, the City of Sails made a fantastic arena for us to race in today,” said a jubilant Davies.

“It was really, really hard. We learned that in the practice races beforehand, we made all the mistakes then and today was just brilliant.

“We had a really good teamwork, a great start, good tactics, everything worked perfectly onboard Team SCA today.

“I’m really happy because it’s going to boost our team’s morale for the next two days while we wait for (Cyclone) Pam to leave us some space to go out in the Southern Ocean.”

Greenhalgh added: “We’re stoked. It wasn’t really secure until the last little bit when we’d gone around the bottom mark.”

MAPFRE, who had led the chase to catch Team SCA after another runaway start, enjoyed the consolation of a third place podium finish on the return of skipper Iker Martínez (ESP) after he missed the last two legs to concentrate on Olympic training for Rio 2016.

The race, mercifully raced in variable but perfect conditions before Cyclone Pam hits the region, leaves the in-port race series perfectly poised with Team SCA just two points behind the leading pair.

They in turn head Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) by two points following a fourth place finish in Auckland for the Chinese boat.

The leg departure for the treacherous Southern Ocean/Cape Horn leg to Brazil has been delayed until midday local time on Tuesday at the earliest because of the Category 5 Cyclone Pam, which has been blowing winds of around 250 kilometres an hour.

Race management will make a decision in the next 24 hours to confirm that the fleet is safe to sail at that time having postponed the departure from Sunday at 1400 local time (0100 GMT).

 

The Volvo Ocean Race launches a new young sailor award in a major sailing competition in the Gulf. It's aimed at attracting a fresh generation of offshore sailors, following champions like Damien Foxall (Photo © Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

The Volvo Ocean Race launches a new young sailor award in a major sailing competition in the Gulf. It’s aimed at attracting a fresh generation of offshore sailors, following champions like Damien Foxall (Photo © Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team/Volvo Ocean Race)

The Volvo Ocean Race launches a new young sailor award in a major sailing competition in the Gulf. It’s aimed at attracting a fresh generation of offshore sailors, following champions like Damien Foxall

– Omani and British under-30s win first rookies prizes

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, March 3 – The Volvo Ocean Race has launched a new award for young sailors in a major competition in the Gulf, aimed at attracting a fresh generation of sailors into offshore sailing to follow champions like Damien Foxall (pictured).

The Race has introduced the Volvo Ocean Race Rookie Award for the two best under-30 sailors competing in the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour (SATT), which was concluded over the weekend.

The event, contested over a 760-nautical mile (nm) course in the Gulf of Arabia, was first held in 2011 by Oman Sail. Since then, many top-level competitors in the event have been drawn from the ranks of past and present Volvo Ocean Race sailors, including the 2015 winners, Damian Foxall (IRL) and Sidney Gavignet (FRA).

It was the second year running Gavignet’s crew won.

The first victors of the Volvo Ocean Race Rookie Award were Team Renaissance Omani sailor, Ali Al Balushi, and the British sailor from the University of Plymouth team, Richard Mason.

Their prize is a trip to Newport, Rhode Island, to see the Volvo Ocean Race fleet after it completes the sixth leg of the current 12th edition from Itajaí, Brazil.

A panel of judges comprising George Catsiapis, CEO EFG Private Bank, Knut Frostad CEO, Volvo Ocean Race, and Gilles Chiorri, EFG SATT Race Director, picked out Al Balushi and Mason as the winners after they were nominated by their skippers in the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour (SATT).

“We are thrilled that SATT has attracted recognition from the Volvo Ocean Race as being a valuable feeder race for young offshore sailors and we look forward to working closely together to promote the sport of sailing among young local and regional audiences,” said David Graham, CEO of organisers, Oman Sail.

Frostad added: “We are delighted to launch this award since the Volvo Ocean Race works hard to promote the development of young offshore sailors and also fully supports the initiatives and programmes that are being launched by emerging nations in the sport of sailing.”

Overall winners of the SATT were EFG Bank, Monaco, led by Gavignet, who has competed in four Volvo Ocean Races.

A course change, from east to west, resulted in 14 days of testing upwind racing on the six-leg course from Oman to Bahrain.

The fleet included 11 pro-am race teams with crews from 21 different countries, including GAC powered by Dongfeng, with three ‘resting’ sailors from Dongfeng Race Team taking part: Cheng Ying Kit (English name ‘Kit’), Liu Ming (‘Leo’) and Kong Chencheng (‘Kong’). They finished eighth.