Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. ( Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. ( Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Team AkzoNobel took the win in the HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong on a challenging afternoon on the waters of Kowloon Bay.

The wind during race time was a 6 to 10 knot Easterly, but it was very shifty and puffy, and with a tidal current running on the race course, it was a difficult day for the tacticians.

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

“We had a fantastic race, pretty exciting. We planned to sail our own race today. It was tricky enough with the tide and the windshifts,” said team AkzoNobel skipper Simeon Tienpont.

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. ( Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. ( Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

“The team sailed an unbelievable race and the guys in the back of the boat played the tactics very well… It’s good when things come together. It’s a nice reward for all the effort the team has put in.”

Dongfeng Race Team finished in second place, with Team Brunel third. The two swapped places on the third lap of the course after a solid upwind leg by Brunel gave them the lead, but the Dongfeng crew fought back on the run to secure second place.

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

A fourth place finish on Saturday by the series leader MAPFRE means Dongfeng vaults to the top of the table.

But it’s a tight leaderboard and it could compress further following Sunday’s Around Hong Kong Island Race, when results of the weekend of racing will be combined to assign the points from this stopover.

Hong Kong’s hometown heroes Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag had a fantastic start, but fell back and battled to a fifth place finish over Turn the Tide on Plastic on Saturday. Both teams will be determined to move up with a better result on Sunday.

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

The Around Hong Kong Island Race is scheduled to start at 11:30am local time in Hong Kong (0330 UTC). There will be live coverage of the start and finish of Sunday’s race on www.volvooceanrace.com, on Facebook and Twitter @volvooceanrace. Fans will be able to follow the full race on the tracker via www.volvooceanrace.com.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing will not race this weekend or on Leg 5 to Guangzhou next week as the team coordinates repairs to its boat – see more here.

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Current Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race leaderboard 
Dongfeng Race Team – 24 points
MAPFRE – 23 points
team AkzoNobel – 18 points
Team Brunel – 18 points
Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 12 points
Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag – 9 points
Turn the Tide on Plastic – 7 points

*** Note: The above leaderboard reflects full points assigned from Saturday’s HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. On Sunday, the results of the Around Hong Kong Island race will be combined with Saturday’s HGC In-Port Race to award the overall leader from this weekend’s racing a maximum of seven points from Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018.  (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. Ocean Summit. Mark Towill, Co-founder & Team Director, Vestas 11th Hour Racing &.Charlie Enright. 22 January, 2018. ( Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. Ocean Summit. Mark Towill, Co-founder & Team Director, Vestas 11th Hour Racing &.Charlie Enright. 22 January, 2018. ( Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

 

By Mark Towill and Charlie Enright

Vestas 11th Hour Racing has informed Volvo Ocean Race that the team will not be participating in inshore racing in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China, as well as Leg 5 from Hong Kong to Guangzhou.The team is currently coordinating necessary repairs to the boat caused by the collision with a non-racing vessel on Saturday 20th January. For more information, see here. 

“First and foremost, our thoughts and condolences are with the families affected by this tragic incident,” said Mark Towill from Hong Kong.

“At this time, we are still assessing all of our options to return to the race,” said Charlie Enright. “We once again thank everyone for their continued support.”

Practice racing today, followed by the In-Port Race and Around Hong Kong Race this weekend as well as pro-am racing at the start of next week, are all programmed to take place in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Stopover. Hong Kong United Doackyards. The Boatyard working hard to get the boats ready for the next Leg. 21 January, 2018. Hong Kong Stopover. ( Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

The fleet of Volvo Ocean 65s will then depart in Leg 5 for Guangzhou on January 31st for the next stopover in mainland China.

eg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, day 17, Photo by Amory Ross/Volvo Ocean Race. 18 January, 2018.

Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, day 17, Photo by Amory Ross/Volvo Ocean Race. 18 January, 2018.

The Volvo Ocean Race can confirm Vestas 11th Hour Racing, one of the teams competing in the 2017-18 race, has been involved in a collision with a non-race vessel before the finish of Leg 4, near Hong Kong.

The team has retired from Leg 4 and is proceeding to Hong Kong unassisted and under its own power.

Race Control at Volvo Ocean Race headquarters was informed of the collision by the team moments after it happened at approximately 17:23 UTC on Friday January 19, 2018 (01:23 local time on Saturday morning).

The Vestas 11th Hour Racing team issued a Mayday distress call on behalf of the other vessel, alerting the Hong Kong Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (HKMRCC) and undertook a search and rescue mission.

HKMRCC has informed Race Control that a commercial vessel in the area was able to rescue nine of the crew and that a tenth crew member was taken by helicopter to hospital.

All of the crew on Vestas 11th Hour Racing are safe. Their boat suffered damage and the team has officially retired from the leg, but the team is able to motor to shore.

The Volvo Ocean Race is deeply saddened to inform that the collision between Vestas 11th Hour Racing, a team competing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, and a fishing vessel has resulted in a fatality of a crew of the fishing vessel.

On behalf of the Volvo Ocean Race and Vestas 11th Hour Racing, we offer our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the deceased.

The incident occurred approximately 30 miles from the finish of Leg 4, outside of Hong Kong waters. Race Control at Volvo Ocean Race headquarters was informed of the collision by the team moments after it happened at approximately 17:23 UTC on Friday January 19, 2018 (01:23 local time on Saturday morning).

The Vestas 11th Hour Racing team, none of whom were injured in the collision, issued a Mayday distress call on behalf of the other vessel, alerting the Hong Kong Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (HKMRCC) and undertook a search and rescue mission.

HKMRCC informed Race Control that a commercial vessel in the area was able to rescue nine of the crew and that a tenth crew member was taken by helicopter to hospital. HKMRCC has since confirmed the death of the air-lifted crew member.

Volvo Ocean Race and Vestas 11th Hour Racing are now focused on providing immediate support to those affected by this incident.

All involved organisations are co-operating with the authorities and are fully supporting the ongoing investigation.

 

 

Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, arrivals. 19 January, 2018. (Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, arrivals. 19 January, 2018. (Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag have won Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race, leading the fleet into their home port of Hong Kong.

It’s an historic win for skipper David Witt and his team who had to overcome significant setbacks on the leg before grabbing the lead with a bold tactical call out of the Doldrums last weekend.

“We had a bit of a plan and we stuck to it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and this time it worked for us,” Witt said.
But late in the crossing, after falling behind the fleet again, Witt and navigator Libby Greenhalgh made the decision to cut the corner, and turn to the west earlier than the opposition who kept pressing north in search of stronger winds.

The move paid dividends nearly immediately on the leaderboard as Scallywag had less miles to sail to the finish line, but pundits cautioned that the teams in the north would almost certainly overhaul them as the tradewinds filled in from the northeast.

It never happened.

Even when the team dropped miles recovering a man overboard after Alex Gough was swept off the boat by a wave, after executing a flawless recovery, Scallywag returned to racing and extended to nearly a 100-mile lead.

But then, the chasing boats began chipping away at the lead. Two days out from the finish, the margin had been cut significantly and the pressure mounted.

“I was really impressed by the way we operated over the past couple of days,” Witt said. “We had a pretty big lead and then through no fault of our own, about two-thirds of it got taken away. But we stuck to our guns, did what we thought was right and it’s worked out.”

Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, arrivals. 19 January, 2018. ( Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, arrivals. 19 January, 2018. ( Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

With the Leg 4 win, Scallywag picks up 8 points (7 points for first place plus a one point win bonus). It will vault the team up to mid-fleet on the overall leaderboard, in a very respectable fourth place.

“It was always going to take us longer than the others to get up to speed as we were the last to enter,” Witt said. “All teams need a bit of confidence and I think one thing that is underrated in sport is momentum and this will certainly give the Scallywags plenty of that… We’re all still learning and we’re going to keep getting better as we go on.”

Witt has acknowledged the significance of the win as the local team leading the fleet into the first ever Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Hong Kong. For the team owner, Seng Huang Lee, who has supported Scallywag sailing over the years, it’s a big moment.

“We’re a privately owned team and our owner Mr. Lee has poured his passion and enthusiasm and vision into this project and this win will be very special for him… Winning this leg will be a massive platform for Scallywag going forward.”

Behind Scallywag, Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Dongfeng Race Team are battling for second place and expected to finish approximately two and three hours behind the winner. The rest of the fleet is forecast to finish at intervals over the following 12 hours.

Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, arrivals. 19 January, 2018. ( Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, arrivals. 19 January, 2018.

Leg 4 – Provisional Results at Friday 19 January (Leg 4, Day 18) at 20:17 UTC

1. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag — FINISHED – 17:45:42 UTC
2. Vestas 11th Hour Racing — RACING
3. Dongfeng Race Team — RACING
4. team AkzoNobel – RACING
5. MAPFRE — RACING
6. Team Brunel — RACING
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic — RACING

Volvo Ocean Race – Current Leaderboard

1. MAPFRE — RACING — 29 points (after Leg 3)
2. Dongfeng Race Team — RACING — 23 points (after Leg 3)
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing — RACING — 23 points (after Leg 3)
4. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag — FINISHED — 19 points (after Leg 4)
5. Team Brunel — RACING — 14 points (after Leg 3)
6. team AkzoNobel — RACING — 9 points (after Leg 3)
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic — RACING — 6 points (after Leg 3)

Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, arrivals. 19 January, 2018.

Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, arrivals. 19 January, 2018.

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.

Team Dongfeng crossing the finish line to Win Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Dongfeng crossing the finish line to Win Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race (Photo by George Bekris)

Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) edged overall Volvo Ocean Race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) by just three minutes and 25 seconds to win Leg 6 to Newport after an enthralling duel over the past 24 hours

Team Dongfeng holds off Abu Dhabi Racing Team to Win Leg 6, (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Dongfeng holds off Abu Dhabi Racing Team to Win Leg 6, (Photo by George Bekris)

 

Leg 6
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

DFRT
DFRT FIN – 017d 09h 03m 00s
ADOR
ADOR FIN – 017d 09h 06m 25s
TBRU
TBRU FIN – 017d 09h 56m 40s
MAPF
MAPF FIN – 017d 10h 34m 25s
ALVI
ALVI 0.0 22.2 14 9.4
SCA1
SCA1 42.4 22.1 56 9.3
VEST
VEST DID NOT START

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

– Skipper Caudrelier praises shore crew after thrilling win
– Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing within four minutes of victors
– Follow the final boats in on our App

May 6, 2015. Dongfeng Race Team winners of Leg 6 arriving to Newport celebrate the victory on stage. (Photo by Billie Weiss / Volvo Ocean Race)

May 6, 2015. Dongfeng Race Team winners of Leg 6 arriving to Newport celebrate the victory on stage. (Photo by Billie Weiss / Volvo Ocean Race)

NEWPORT, Rhode Island, USA (May 7) – Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) edged overall Volvo Ocean Race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) by just three minutes and 25 seconds to win Leg 6 to Newport after an enthralling duel over the past 24 hours.

The result cuts the Emirati boat’s lead over the Chinese-backed challengers to six points and marks a fantastic comeback for Caudrelier and his crew after they were forced to pull out of the previous leg to Itajaí because of a broken mast.

The French skipper paid tribute to his shore crew who managed to fit a new rig in under a week in Brazil and prepare the boat for the 5,010-nautical mile (nm), ultra-competitive next stage through the Atlantic.

Team Dongfend pass Castle Hill headed for the finish in Newport, Rhode Island (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Dongfend pass Castle Hill headed for the finish in Newport, Rhode Island (Photo by George Bekris)

“For this leg, the goal was to be ready in Itajaí and the (shore) crew did a fantastic job. I’d like to give them the victory,” said Caudrelier.

“I’m very proud of them and very happy to take this first place. They worked very hard to get this boat ready. I’m really, really happy.”

IMG_9727-001

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing heading for the Leg 6 finish at Fort Adam in Newport, RI just 3 minutes behind Team Dongfeng after thousands of miles. (Photo by George Bekris)

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing made Caudrelier and his men work all the way for the win after 17 days at sea and even threatened to overturn their lead as they passed Block Island 30nm from the finish.

Apr._29_2015_George Bekris--1-2-004

Up the Mast of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Photo by George Bekris)

“We were within a couple of lengths of getting over them at Block Island – literally three or four boat lengths from rolling them – but they held on and dug deep. Very well deserved win,” said Walker.

Caudrelier’s hopes of bouncing back for the triumph had looked in serious jeopardy just two days into the leg, which started on April 19, when the electronic water-maker, which converts sea water into drinking water, broke down.

He said if his crew had not been able to repair it, they would have had to make a 12-hour stop.

‘We wouldn’t have had to retire, but we would have had to stop and fix it. When you stop in this race, you see the difference between the boats, and that means the leg is over because it means you lose at least 12 hours,” said Caudrelier, whose boat finished in an elapsed time of 17 days, nine hours and three minutes exactly after leaving Itajaí.

“That would have meant another leg where we would have finished last.”

Dutch challengers Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) finished just over 55 minutes afterDongfeng to claim the final podium spot following yet another closely-fought leg.

It will have been a big relief to Bekking whose boat has been pipped in similar close finishes in earlier legs.

“It’s always good to be back on the podium. But the race is lost for us, we have to tell the public about that, because Abu Dhabi has an inaccessible lead now compared to us,” he said.

Dongfeng still has a good chance. They sailed an excellent leg, congratulations to them. And to Abu Dhabi too – they both sailed very well.

“We’re aiming for second and we still want to win the In-Port Series as well. We’re in the lead over there. We’ve got a couple of things to sail for – and of course we want to win a couple of legs.”

MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) followed Team Brunel home in fourth spot with an elapsed time of 17 days 10 hours 34 minutes and 25 seconds with Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) heading for a home town welcome in fifth place ahead of Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), who were expected to finish later on Thursday.

Current latest standings (low points wins, Team Alvimedica* and Team SCA* yet to finish Leg 6): 1) Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 11 pts, 2) Dongfeng Race Team 17, 3) Team Alvimedica 19*, 4) Team Brunel 21, 5) MAPFRE 24, 6) Team SCA 29*, 7) Team Vestas (Denmark) 44.

Team Dongfeng win Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Dongfeng win Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race (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 )

(Photo by Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team)

Team Dongfeng headed to Newport (Photo by Sam Greenfield/Dongfeng Race Team)

 

Leg 6: Itajai – Newport (5,000nm theoretical, close to 5,500nm sailed)

Days at sea: 17
Distance to finish: 
115nm
Position in fleet: First. 2nm ahead of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
Weather: Transition from westerly winds to light easterlies (“Dong Feng” translated)
Boat speed: 12 knots
ETA Newport: Tonight.

America…the land of hopes and dreams and, right now, all of Dongfeng’s hopes and dreams are resting on the Chinese team trying to stay ahead of their main adversary, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, to arrive first in Newport. But like all hopes and dreams, they don’t come easy: “The last 24 hours of this leg are going to be a nightmare,” says Charles. “It’s going to be very difficult to stay ahead of the other boats”

Just over a hundred excruciating miles to go, the fleet are expected in tonight at some point. Over the last 24 hours, Dongfeng has had a whole mix of conditions – from light downwind sailing, to some strong gusty conditions of up to 30 knots whilst crossing the Gulf Stream. But now the brakes are on, and the leaders are tackling the final wind transition – from the strong westerly flow that has propelled them overnight towards Newport ahead of the predictions, in to a weak easterly flow. Dong Feng we should remind you means “a wind from the east bringing freshness and energy” – lets hope it blows in our favour!

“Everyone’s getting nervous,” said Horace (Chen Jin Hao). “Plus the wind is getting lighter now. The boat we couldn’t see before are now close to us, we can see them with our eyes. These days are like torture for us.”

For Horace his American dream is simple: “For a lot of people America is a place full of dreams and hopes. Lots of people would like to study in the US and start a business there. But for me, I’ve only got one American dream – get a good result for this leg. But of course I’ve got my little ‘classic’ American dream – I want to go to New York to see the Statue of Liberty.” Lets just hope Dongfeng Race Team are the first ones to see the Newport finish line…

Read Sam’s blog: The Gulf Stream – this one resembles a hot elevator shooting us towards Newport with an extra 2 knots over the ground. The past 48 hours have been nothing but ups and downs, hots and colds, so I challenge the guys to give me a few quotes with that theme in mind. “Arriving in the US our hearts are getting warm as the water is getting colder,” says Kevin. Read more hereImage cr​edit: Sa​m Greenf​ield/Don​gfeng Ra​ce Team The next​ 115nm i​s going ​to be a ​nervous ​one for ​our navi​gator, P​ascal.

You can follow our story and interact with the team on all social media channels and our official website:

Facebook: Click here
Twitter: Click here
Instagram: Click here
Weibo: Click here
WeChat: Click here
Youtube: Click here
YouKu: Click here
Official website: Click here