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.

Ribbon cutting for opening of Newport Race Village (Photo © George Bekris)

Ribbon cutting for opening of Newport Race Village (Photo © George Bekris)

 

NEWPORT, RI (May 8, 2018) – A 5,700 nautical mile race leg from Itajai, Brazil to Newport finished off Fort Adams State Park this morning with a come-from-behind win of Leg 8 by MAPFRE in the global Volvo Ocean Race. Just a day ago, MAPFRE was in fifth place. As Tuesday morning dawned in New England and delivered “pea-soup” fog and light winds, MAPFRE inched ahead of Team Brunel, Dongfeng Race Team and Vestas 11th Hour Racing. The final hours were a slow battle for the exhausted sailors as they also were pushed around by the tide and currents near shore, at times even drifting backward.

 

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport. Arrivals. 08 May (Photo by Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport. Arrivals. 08 May (Photo by Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race)

After nearly 16 days of racing, the margin between MAPFRE who finished at 6:44 a.m., and Team Brunel, was only 1-minute and 1-second. The local crowd cheered on all of the race boats that dramatically popped out of the dense fog one-by-one in close succession, but had an especially warm welcome for third-place winners and hometown sailors Charlie Enright (Bristol, RI) and Newport’s Nick Dana and crew onboard Vestas 11th Hour Racing.

“This leg has had its ups and downs,” said Charlie Enright, the skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing. “We didn’t start great, but we feel like we sailed pretty well for the middle two-thirds of the leg. Then with some positive input from some local knowledge, we end up back on the podium which is great.” Newport is a homecoming for Enright and Dana on Vestas 11th Hour Racing as well as for Mark Towill (Hawaii) who did his college sailing at Brown University in nearby Providence, RI. “It’s awesome here,” Enright said. “It’s 0600 local time here, and the amount of boats out is absurd. The amount of effort put in by Sail Newport and the stopover here is amazing.”  The fleet then finished in the order of Dongfeng Race Team, AkzoNobel, Turn the Tide on Plastic and Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. Check the full scoreboard here.

Newport Mayor, the Hon. Harry Winthrop, and Brad Read, exec. dir. of Sail Newport celebrate the ribbon cutting with the Volvo Ocean race Albatross mascot (Photo © George Bekris)

Rhode Island Welcomes the International Event to the City-by-the-Sea In contrast to the morning’s chilly fog finish, the weather improved to a picture-perfect day with sunny skies and warm temperatures for the official kick-off of the Race Village. The backdrop for the opening ceremony was the U.S.C.G. Barque Eagle which arrived and docked next to the race boats earlier this morning.

The Opening Ceremony was launched with an international Parade of Nations with country flags representing sailors’ home countries, carried by local youth. The parade started at the welcome arch and marched past the Team Bases through the Race Village. The U.S.C.G. Navy Band performed as did the Navy Band Northeast.

 

 

Also, salutes were operated by the Newport Artillery Company. The Harris Family Dance Troupe of The Narragansett Tribal Nation performed for the crowds as well. In addition, The Rogers High School Junior ROTC also joined in the opening festivities.

 

 

The Race Village is now open every day through May 20. The full schedule of events is listed on the website.

 

Tomorrow, May 9, the U.S.C.G. Barque Eagle will host free public tours between 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Admission to the Race Village for the entire event. Parking is free tomorrow.

 

Barque Eagle (Photo © George Bekris)

 

Speaker Brad Read, exec. dir. of Sail Newport, opened the ceremony welcoming the Volvo Ocean Race’s only North American Stopover to Newport. He said that the event has been in the planning stages for three years.

 

Brad Read (Photo © George Bekris)

Read also thanked the many non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and city and state agencies and professionals who helped win the original bid for the Stopover in 2015 and plan for today’s opening. Read also recognized the nearly 700 volunteers that will work the event over the next 13 days.

 

 

Governor Gina Raimondo spoke and welcomed the international visitors to the Ocean State and acknowledged the coordination of many state agencies to help welcome the event to Rhode Island. Janet Coit, director of the R.I. Dept. of Environmental Management, Newport Mayor, the Hon. Harry Winthrop, Eagle Captain Matt Meilstrup, Volvo Ocean Race Operations Director Peter Ansell also made welcoming remarks. Dignitaries also attending the ceremony included: Newport City Council Vice Chair, Lynn Underwood.

To follow the racing and events check out the latest at Volvo Ocean Race.

 #VOR #VolvoOceanRace #VolvoOceanRaceNewport #SailNewport #Newport #FortAdams
Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 12 on board Dongfeng. 03 May, 2018. (Photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 12 on board Dongfeng. 03 May, 2018.

Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel continues to lead the Volvo Ocean Race fleet towards the Leg 8 finish in Newport, USA, as the teams enter the final 1,500 miles.

Bekking’s Dutch-flagged crew jumped into the top spot on May 1 after exiting the Doldrums and have so far defended their position despite spirited attacks from their rivals.

Twelve days into the 5,600-mile sprint from Itajaí in Brazil, the quick sailing through the trade winds was continuing Friday – although lighter winds lay in wait further down the track, meaning Brunel’s lead of seven miles is far from secure.

Bekking said his crew were making the most of the ideal conditions while they last.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 11 on board Brunel. Abby Ehler on the bow cleaning Sargassum weeds. 02 May, 2018.3 Sam Greenfield/Volvo Ocean Race

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 11 on board Brunel. Abby Ehler on the bow cleaning Sargassum weeds. 02 May, 2018.3

“We are pushing to the max we can do,” the veteran Volvo Ocean Race sailor said. “We know we are sailing into less pressure so the boats behind us will keep gaining, annoying but a fact we have to live with.

“Capey, our navigator, is relaxed in his own way, but can see and feel that it is game on. He makes I don’t know how many simulations for all the routes possible from here to Newport and we are discussing this together with Pete (Burling) as well.

“Two very important factors are the high pressure system east of Bermuda and the Gulf Stream which runs from Florida into a north east direction towards Europe.

“The current can run up to five to six knots. Unfortunately it is not one straight stream, it has big eddies, so if you do it wrong you can have five knots against you while another boat has five knots with them. But we are confident!”

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day xx on board Turn the Tide on Plastic. 03 May, 2018. (Photo © James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race)

Around 25 miles south east of Brunel, Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic slipped out of the podium spots after hitting a patch of lighter wind.

As the seven teams drew level with Puerto Rico, Vestas 11th Hour Racing were able to skirt round the outside of them into third.

“Three disappointing position reports in a row is frustrating and could get you down,” Caffari said. “However, we will fight harder, we just need to let these rain clouds know…

“During the early hours of this morning the rain clouds carried some squally action and huge shifts. One minute we were in 28 knots of wind heading towards the Caribbean and then the next moment we were lifted, towards the centre of the high pressure, in 14 knots of wind.

“We can only sail in the conditions that we have and we are working hard but it seems everyone else’s clouds are more user friendly allowing them to keep gaining on us and we are slipping back.

“If it is not the up and down and shifts of the wind then it is this Sargassum weed. Rudders no longer having smooth water flow lose grip and the boat spinning out is not fast.

“We have two more days of this express highway and then the breeze will start to decrease before we gybe and sail on port. We then face a lot of action and sail changes between us and the finish from that gybe point.”

Out to the east of the leaders, MAPFRE and team AkzoNobel are in a dead heat for fifth place, about 45 miles off the lead.

Meanwhile, seventh-placed Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag clawed back miles on the leaders as they posted the best 24-hour distance run of the fleet, notching up 513 miles.

Scallywag crewmember Pete Cumming, racing in his first Volvo Ocean Race leg, said the crew had not lost hope of catching their rivals despite a 181-mile deficit on Brunel.

“We still believe it’s going to be close at the finish,” he said. “There’s going to be a transition close to the finish and our routing has us coming in a few hours behind the leaders.”

 

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 12 on board Vestas 11th Hour. Drone shot full speed downwind 23knts boat speed. 03 May, 2018.
(Photo © Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8
Itajaí to Newport
4 May 2018
Positions at: 14:18 UTC
DTL G_L STAT SPD CRS TWS TW DTF nm ETA
UTC
1 TBRU 0.00 0.00 RAC 24.6 312º 22.8 92º 1400.64 08 May
2 DFRT 7.20 0.02 RAC 22.2 319º 23.5 93º 1407.84 08 May
3 VS11 12.46  0.04 RAC 18.3 303º 16.3 70º 1413.10 08 May
4 TTOP 21.15 0.00 RAC 18.6 335º 19.5 95º 1421.79 08 May
5 MAPF 45.00 0.07 RAC 23.6 321º 21.8 101º 1445.65 08 May
6 AKZO 45.20 0.08 RAC 23.1 330º 23.8 101º 1445.84 08 May
7 SHKS 178.20 0.03 RAC 21.3 315º 21.3 86º 1578.84 08 May

 Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 12 on board Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. Wide angle of sprayed deck. 03 May, 2018. (Photo © Rich Edwards/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 12 on board Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. Wide angle of sprayed deck. 03 May, 2018. (Photo © Rich Edwards/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April (Photo ©  Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April (Photo ©
Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

MAPFRE takes a close win over team AkzoNobel and Dongfeng Race Team in Brazil In Port Race, while SHK/Scallywag race the clock to be on the start line on Sunday…

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April

Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race

The Spanish team MAPFRE won the Itajaí In-Port Race on Friday in Brazil, after battling with team AkzoNobel for the lead on the first of three laps of the race course.

A large spectator fleet was on hand to watch the racing in a moderate 10 knot sea breeze and after taking the lead on the first downwind leg, MAPFRE protected well the rest of the way.

The win allows skipper Xabi Fernández and his team to extend their advantage in the In-Port Race Series over Dongfeng Race Team who finished in third place on Friday.

“It was a good race for us today, right from the start, but the key for us was being able to pass AkzoNobel on the first downwind,” Fernández said. “From there we could stretch.

“Being the series leader is always good. We know how tight the overall race leaderboard is where we’re just one point behind Dongfeng, so this could be important at the end of the race and for that we are happy today.”

Team AkzoNobel was a close second place in Itajaí, which secures their third place position on the series leaderboard.

“When we looked at the conditions and the race course today we knew the start would be critical and we had a very good start with pace,” skipper Simeon Tienpont said. “But MAPFRE did a really good job. We were waiting for them to make a mistake but they did the best race today and we’re very happy with second place.”

Dongfeng Race Team was also content with a podium result.

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

“We didn’t have a good start but we were able to use the mistakes of the others to get back near the leaders,” skipper Charles Caudrelier said. “We sailed the rest of the race well but there was not so much opportunity.”

Turn the Tide on Plastic scored their best finish of the series with a fourth place result and has moved off the bottom of the series leaderboard.

Team Brunel had a promising start on Friday but was undone by a sail handling error at the top mark, which dropped them from challenging for the lead to battling with Vestas 11th Hour Racing at the back of the fleet.

Team SHK/Scallywag didn’t take the start on Friday, with the boat still out of the water being prepared to take the start of Leg 8 on Sunday. It’s a race against the clock to get the boat ready in time.

Itajai Stopover. Press conference. 20 April, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Earlier, at the skippers’ press conference, Scallywag’s David Witt spoke poignantly about the loss of his friend and teammate John Fisher:

“We started together 12 years ago and he was always the first guy picked… the biggest compliment I could give John is that he was the best team player I’ve ever seen. He put everyone else first.

“For me, he was my best mate. Sunday will be a bit weird – it will be the first time I’ve gone to sea without him in 12 years…

“But we’ve had amazing support from within the Volvo Ocean Race family. The character of the people in this race has been exemplified by the way we’ve been supported by the other competitors in this race… I’m sure John would be very proud about that.

“The best thing we can do in John’s memory is get on with the job on Sunday… If he was standing behind be right now he’d be telling me to harden up and get on with it and that’s what we’re going to do on Sunday.”

 

Itajai Stopover. Press conference. 20 April, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Itajaí, Brazil to Newport, Rhode Island, starts on Sunday 22 April.

Itajaí In-Port Race — Results
1. MAPFRE – 7 points
2. Team AkzoNobel – 6 points
3. Dongfeng Race Team – 5 points
4. Turn the Tide on Plastic – 4 points
5. Team Brunel – 3 points
6. Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 2 points
7. Team SHK/Scallywag – did not start

Current Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race Series Leaderboard
1. MAPFRE – 44 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team – 39 points
3. team AkzoNobel – 33 points
4. Team Brunel – 29 points
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 18 points
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic – 15 points
7. Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag – 15 points

 

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April (Photo ©  Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April (Photo ©
Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

The local heroes on Xabi Fernàndez’s MAPFRE were a popular winner in the first point scoring race of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The local heroes on Xabi Fernández’s MAPFRE were a popular winner in the first point scoring race of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Fernández and his team made a bold call at the start to duck behind the entire fleet in order to sail up what turned out to be the favoured right hand side of the course, coming from behind to earn a narrow lead at the first gate.

“It was pretty clear from Joan (Vila) and Rob (Greenhalgh) that we wanted to hit the right side of the course in the first upwind looking for more breeze,” explained Fernández.

“Our intention was to start on port but Pablo (Arrarte) saw the gap himself when Brunel did a poor tack and they couldn’t accelerate so we want for the cross and we had plenty of room and once we hit the right everything went well.”

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

MAPFRE then managed to stretch out to a lead of nearly one-minute at the bottom gate, giving them a lead they would enjoy the rest of the way.

“The truth is it hasn’t been an easy race but we took a bit of a risk at the start,” Fernández said after the finish. “We saw the gap in front of Brunel and we went for it. Everything went really well.”

In fact, the Spanish team sailed a flawless race, in terms of strategy and execution, and were never threatened after grabbing the lead at the first mark.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

But behind them, it was a hard-fought race. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag was strong on the first leg, but dropped back over the course of the race. In contrast, Dongfeng Race Team fought up the fleet to grab second place, battling with Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Team Brunel who were trading places throughout the race.

“There was a lot of action! MAPFRE played their own game alone but behind them, we had a big fight for second place. It’s good, it’s good,” said skipper Charles Caudrelier on Dongfeng Race Team.

“We showed how we can sail well, after having not such good results in the last few days. It’s great that we managed to come back and get this result.”

“It was a very exciting first In-Port Race for us,” said Charlie Enright, the skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing. “They’re always really close. You know, when you’re racing these 65-foot canting keel boats around a one-mile track it gets interesting, with a lot of exchanges and big headsails and a lot of grinding. We did some good things and some bad things and got third place. All in all, not a bad way to start the campaign.”

“I had a bad start and that put us on the back foot,” said Bouwe Bekking the skipper of Team Brunel. “But we sailed the boat very nicely. All in all, we’re pretty happy with how we sailed today.”

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race.

Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag made a late gain to grab fifth over team AkzoNobel with Turn the Tide on Plastic never recovering from a poor first leg.

“It was okay. Fifth’s not great but it was okay. We were second at the top but we just made one mistake on the first run and it cost us. Basically, it was good. Amazing to be racing here in Alicante,” said David Witt, the skipper of Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag.

MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante — Results

Position Team Elapsed Time Points
1 MAPFRE 54:38 7
2 Dongfeng Race Team 56:06 6
3 Vestas 11th Hour Racing 56:54 5
4 Team Brunel 57:13 4
5 Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 58:07 3
6 team AkzoNobel 58:31 2
7 Turn the Tide on Plastic 59:39 1
Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

February 15, 2015. Leg 4 to Auckland onboard Team Brunel. Day 7. A huge wave crashes over the deck (Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race)

February 15, 2015. Leg 4 to Auckland onboard Team Brunel. Day 7. A huge wave crashes over the deck (Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 4
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

TBRU
TBRU 0 0 3188.3 14
ADOR
ADOR 64.9 13 3253.1 16
MAPF
MAPF 74.4 11 3262.7 16
DFRT
DFRT 79.9 11 3268.2 16
ALVI
ALVI 82 12 3270.3 16
SCA1
SCA1 107.8 9 3296.1 14
VEST
VEST Did Not Start

–  Communications antennae malfunction hampers Spanish boat

– Team Brunel cashing in on bold decision to sail north

 

SANYA, CHINA - FEBRUARY 13:  In this handout image provided by the Volvo Ocean Race onboard MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez holding the new base for the outrigger during Leg 4 from Sanya to Auckland on February 08, 2015 in Sanya, China. The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 is the 12th running of this ocean marathon. Starting from Alicante in Spain on October 04, 2014, the route, spanning some 39,379 nautical miles, visits 11 ports in eleven countries (Spain, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, China, New Zealand, Brazil, United States, Portugal, France, The Netherlands and Sweden) over nine months. The Volvo Ocean Race is the world's premier ocean yacht race for professional racing crews. (Photo by Francisco Vignale/MAPFRE/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images)

SANYA, CHINA – FEBRUARY 13: In this handout image provided by the Volvo Ocean Race onboard MAPFRE, Xabi Fernandez holding the new base for the outrigger during Leg 4 from Sanya to Auckland on February 08, 2015 in Sanya, China. The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 is the 12th running of this ocean marathon. Starting from Alicante in Spain on October 04, 2014, the route, spanning some 39,379 nautical miles, visits 11 ports in eleven countries (Spain, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, China, New Zealand, Brazil, United States, Portugal, France, The Netherlands and Sweden) over nine months. The Volvo Ocean Race is the world’s premier ocean yacht race for professional racing crews. (Photo by Francisco Vignale/MAPFRE/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images)

ALICANTE, Spain, February 16 – Spanish boat MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) were ‘sailing blind’ in Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Monday after a problem with communications antennae on board prevented them from receiving key weather and other data.

Race Control was alerted to the problem over the weekend and has since worked with their suppliers and the boat to find a solution.

Gonzalo Infante, who runs the Race’s high-tech communications control room with the six-strong fleet, said on Monday it was not clear exactly what had caused the issue, which involves two antennae not functioning. Communications with the other five boats are working as normal.

“We can still send and receive plain text but cannot send detailed weather data. This has impacted on their ability to make strategic decisions – they are sailing blind,” he said.

Infante added that the Race was working with its suppliers of communications hardware and software on the boat to find a diagnosis and fix.

In a message from the boat, MAPFRE’s Onboard Reporter, Francisco Vignale (ARG), wrote: “We only have email which works. Jean Luc (Nélias-FRA), our navigator, is very limited in his work and can not forecast or work out future routes.”

Additionally, the crew is unable to send out images or videos, which have kept their many fans up to date with progress so far in the race.

Vignale added: “The main thing is that we’d like to say that we are all well, despite not being able to talk with our families. Each one of us wants to send a big ‘hi’ to our nearest and dearest.

“We hope to solve this problem as quickly as possible – there’s still a long way to go in this leg.”

Despite their challenges, MAPFRE were very much in the thick of the battle to finish first in Auckland after the 5,264-nautical mile (nm) stage from Sanya.

At 1240 UTC on Monday, they were in third place some 74.4nm behind Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), who were cashing in on their decision to sail north of the rest of the fleet early in the leg. The stronger winds and better angles towards Auckland that decision gave them, has propelled the Dutch boat 64.9nm clear of the main pack led by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR).

Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) are tight behind fourth-placed Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), the overall race leaders, with Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) still sailing north of the rest of the fleet and biding their time before making their own decision to bear south.

 

February 15, 2015. Leg 4 to Auckland onboard Team Alvimedica. Day 7. Choppy and rough trade-wind sailing in the Philippine Sea for Ryan Houston (R, at helm) and Nick Dana (L, trimming the main). (Photo ©Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race)

February 15, 2015. Leg 4 to Auckland onboard Team Alvimedica. Day 7. Choppy and rough trade-wind sailing in the Philippine Sea for Ryan Houston (R, at helm) and Nick Dana (L, trimming the main). (Photo ©Amory Ross / Team Alvimedica / Volvo Ocean Race)