Fastnet 2017 Start ( Photo © Barry James Wilson )

Sunday 6 August 2017

The Solent laid on ‘classic’ conditions for the start of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s 47th Rolex Fastnet Race. In brilliant sunshine and with brisk westerly winds gusting up to 20 knots, the giant fleet tacked up the western Solent before compressing through the usual bottleneck at Hurst Narrows. A record-sized fleet of 368 boats started the race, 12 more than two years ago, confirming the Rolex Fastnet Race’s position as the world’s largest offshore yacht race.

(Photo © Barry James Wilson)

(Photo © Barry James Wilson)

 

The first start got underway at 11:00 BST for the nine multihulls and within minutes, the blue three-hulled streak that is Concise 10 had pulled out a lead, frequently heeling to an alarming degree, just one hull immersed.

 

By the time IRC One was starting at 12:20 Tony Lawson’s MOD 70, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield, was already off Poole. Crewman Paul Larsen, who five years ago became the world’s fastest sailor setting a world record of 65.45 knots, reported Concise 10 was sailing under reefed mainsail and staysail. “We’re making 20 knots tacking past Poole and just dropping into the watch system. Glamour start conditions in the Solent. I can just see the next boats clearing Hurst Castle.” However Larsen warned that unless the wind freed up, there was little chance for them to break the multihull race record. By 1500 Concise 10 was already level with Portland Bill.

The multihulls were followed away from Cowes by two other ‘non-IRC’ classes – the nine doublehanded IMOCA 60s and twenty seven Class40s. Given the upwind conditions, the older, conventionally foiled IMOCA 60s were prevailing. At 1630 Paul Meilhat and Jules Verne Trophy record holder crewman Gwénolé Gahinet aboard SMA, the 2012-3 Vendee Globe (and the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race) winner as MACIF, were leading the 60s past Portland Bill. The first ‘foil-assisted’ IMOCA 60 was favourite Alex Thomson and Nicholas O’Leary on Hugo Boss in third place, taking a northerly route, close to the land.

In the Class40s present championship leader Phil Sharp on board Imerys led past St Alban’s Head, but later there was little too choose with the British boat neck and neck for the lead in this incredible fleet with the Maxime Sorel-skippered V And B, Burkhard Keese’s Stella Nova, Benoit Charon’s LMAX Normandie and race veteran Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron on Campagne de France.

The five IRC handicap classes, chasing the race’s overall prize of the Fastnet Challenge Cup started with the smallest boats first at 1120.

This afternoon at 1600, the IRC One fleet had fanned out across the course to the southeast of St Alban’s Head. James Neville’s HH42 Ino XXX was leading the charge inshore as Staffan Wincrantz’s Arcona 465 SALT 2.0 was ahead on the water to the south, just ahead of the venerable 1960s maxi Kialoa II, owned by Patrick Broughton.

 

Mid-afternoon, competitors in IRC Two were favouring the inshore route with Dutchman Frans Rodenburg’s First 40 Elke, closest to St Alban’s Head at 1620, with class favourite Gilles Fournier and Corinne Migraine’s J/133 Pintia nearby.

Marc Alperovitch’s JPK 1080, Timeline in the largest class – IRC 3 © Rolex/Carlo Borlenghi

The IRC Three boats were following a similar tactic with the offshore tack being less popular. Having started 20 minutes earlier, they were still successfully fending off the advances of the larger, faster IRC Two fleet. The Russian JPK 10.80, Igor Rytov’s Boyatyr, was leading the pack inshore while the brilliantly-named Seafarers Ale Anticipation, the First 40.7 of former 470 Olympian Pete Newlands, was ahead on the water offshore.

The inshore-offshore spread was more evenly distributed among the smallest boats in IRC Four. Here Noel Racine’s impeccably sailed JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew was ahead inshore while Dan Rigden’s Elan 37 Tacktic was furthest down the track out to sea.

The last to start were the largest in the IRC fleet, IRC Zero, including the line honours contenders George David’s Rambler 88 and Ludde Ingvall’s 100ft CQS. By 1520 Rambler 88 was off and close into St Alban’s Head, leading IRC Zero on the water just ahead of the biggest boat in the fleet, the 115ft Nikata.

Rambler 88 (Photo © Barry James Wilson)

Rambler 88 (Photo © Barry James Wilson)

Rambler 88 (Photo © Barry James Wilson)

Rambler 88 (Photo © Barry James Wilson)

Among the seven one design VO65s competing in ‘Leg 0’ of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, it was very close, with the Charles Caudrelier-skippered Dongfeng Race Team a nose ahead and making 12.3 knots but facing a threat from Team Brunel, skippered again by Dutch race veteran Bouwe Bekking, making 12.5 as the boats passed St Alban’s Head.

This morning Xabi Fernández, skipper of MAPFRE, looked forward to the race: “Once out of the Solent it will be upwind sailing up to the Fastnet rock, and finally we will sail downwind towards Plymouth. This is the first time I’ve competed in the Rolex Fastnet Race. It is a historic race, much like the Rolex Sydney Hobart.”

Joan Vila, MAPFRE’s legendary navigator confirmed the forecast: “Once we leave the Solent, the wind will blow at around 20 knots. From there, it will drop until tomorrow morning, with the probability of encountering areas of very light wind. As we get closer to Plymouth, the wind will build again.”

The RORC Caribbean 600 fleet on the windward side of Antigua - Credit: RORC/Tim Wright

The RORC Caribbean 600 fleet on the windward side of Antigua – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright

 

The 8th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 started in spectacular style with the record 70 yacht fleet gathering in the starting area outside English Harbour, Antigua. Under the Pillars of Hercules, the magnificent collection of yachts started the 600 nmile race in a sublime 14 knot south-easterly breeze with brilliant sunshine. The conditions were enough to have the fleet fully ramped up and a not insignificant swell added to the excitement. Five highly competitive starts thrilled hundreds of spectators lining the cliffs at Shirley Heights and Fort Charlotte. Not only was this a record fleet for the RORC Caribbean 600, it was undoubtedly the highest quality of participants since the inaugural race in 2009.
CSA, IRC 2 & IRC 3 Start
24 yachts engaged in a pre-start peloton resulting in a tremendous battle for the line. The all-girl Sirens’ Tigress; IRC 2 champion, Scarlet Oyster and Polish team, Por Favor executed text book starts. However, winning the pin was American Swan 48, Isbjorn. Jua Kali also got away well which was marvellous for the British team who badly damaged their rig in the Atlantic en route to the start.
First to start the 2016 RORC Caribbean 600: CSA, IRC 2 and IRC 3 – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
IRC 1 & CLASS40
17 yachts started the race with American Sydney 43, Christopher Dragon winning the pin ahead of Canadian Farr 45, Spitfire. Spanish Tales II was the first Class40 to cross the line with Antiguan entry Taz also starting well. Belladonna, skippered by RORC Admiral, Andrew McIrvine had a great start controlling the favoured coastal side of the course.
IRC 1 and Class40 fleet at the start of the 8th RORC Caribbean 600 Race  – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
IRC Zero & IRC Canting Keel
The most impressive start in the eight-year history of the race featured 23 head-turning yachts. 115ft Baltic, Nikata tried to use her might to win the pin but encountered severe congestion, forcing the superyacht to round the wrong side of the pin. Lithuanian Volvo 60, Ambersail were overeager and with no room to bear away, sailed around the pin end buoy. Irish Cookson 50, Lee Overlay Partners was adjudged OCS and had to restart. Dutch Ker 51, Tonnerre 4 with octogenarian owner Piet Vroon on board had a cracking start, as did Hap Fauth’s Maxi72, Bella Mente going for speed and heading for the lift off the cliffs. Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze Clark’s, 100ft Maxi had a slightly conservative run-up to the line before the big winches growled in a dial-down and Comanche powered up, accelerating into the lead.
The IRC Zero and IRC Canting Keel fleet made an impression at the start of the RORC Caribbean 600 – Credit: RORC/Emma Louise Wyn Jones
Superyacht
The penultimate start featured two of the largest yachts competing in the RORC Caribbean 600. Southernwind 102 Farfalla executed a textbook start to begin the 600-nmile race, assisted by a crew including Steve Hayles as navigator, winner of the race with Niklas Zennstrom’s RAN in 2012. The magnificent sight of 178ft schooner Adix crossing the line under full sail drew gasps from the crowd ashore. Adix is the first three-masted schooner to take part in the race.
The magnificent three-masted schooner Adix at the start – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
MOCRA Multihull
Six Multihulls including MOD70s Phaedo3 & Concise 10 lined up for the last start of the day. Phaedo3 and Concise 10 locked horns in the pre-start as expected, with Phaedo3 co-skippered by Lloyd Thornburg and Brian Thompson gaining a small but significant advantage at the start. Concise 10 had to tack offshore to escape bad air and ploughed through several spectator boats that had gathered close to the exclusion zone. The two MOD70s are expected to have a titanic battle over the next two days. Belgian Zed 6 reported a broken daggerboard before the start but managed a repair in time to begin the race.
With a south-easterly breeze the fleet took a long starboard tack to Green Island where they bore away for Barbuda hoisting downwind sails. The sleigh ride has already begun for Comanche, Phaedo3 and Concise 10 with the YB tracker already showing the trio hitting close to 30 knots of boat speed. The wind is expected to return to the east before morning and freshen to a possible 20 knots when many more of this magnificent fleet will be enjoying the magic carpet ride of strong trade winds.
Phaedo3 flying two hulls past Willoughby Bay, Antigua – Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
Watching the start from the cliffs at Shirley Heights was RORC Chief Executive Eddie Warden Owen who could not help but marvel at the quality of the fleet: “This is an amazing collection of boats sailed by the best offshore sailors in the world and was shown by the intensity of the start. Each fleet battled for the outer favoured end of the line, caused by the wind being south of its normal easterly direction. No one held back,” said Warden Owen “And I am surprised we only had one boat over the line at the start. The lighter wind increasing as the week goes on, could favour a small boat for an overall win under the IRC rating rule. It will be fun to watch, but I’d much prefer to be out there racing.”
Hundreds of spectators watched the start of the 8th RORC Caribbean 600 from ashore and on the water Credit: RORC/Tim Wright
For more information visit the RORC Caribbean 600 mini-site: www.caribbean600.rorc.org
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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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June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

Skipper Sam Davies (GBR) and her Team SCA crew struck a resounding blow for women’s offshore sailing in the early hours of Thursday morning when they gloriously clinched Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8
DTL

(NM)

GAIN/LOSS

(NM)

DTF

(NM)

Speed

(kt)

SCA1
SCA1 FIN – 03d 13h 11m 11s
VEST
VEST FIN – 03d 13h 59m 38s
ADOR
ADOR 0.3 10.9 3 11.1
MAPF
MAPF 0.8 11.3 4 11.7
TBRU
TBRU 1.8 11.5 5 12.4
ALVI
ALVI 2.3 11.7 5 12.9
DFRT
DFRT 5.5 11.7 8 13.2

Latest positions may be downloaded
from the race dashboard hereº MAPFRE given 2-point penalty Leg 5
Dongfeng Race Team, Team SCA & MAPFRE penalised Leg 7

– A resounding blow for women’s offshore sailing
– Team Vestas Wind bounce back for second place
– Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing nearing overall trophy win

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

LORIENT, France, June 11 – Skipper Sam Davies (GBR) and her Team SCA crew struck a resounding blow for women’s offshore sailing in the early hours of Thursday morning when they gloriously clinched Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The comfortable victory was the first leg win in offshore sailing’s toughest challenge since Tracy Edwards’ Maidenclinched two stage wins in Class D of the 1989-90 race, won overall by Sir Peter Blake’s famous Steinlager2.

At least as satisfying for the first all-women’s crew to enter the race in 12 years will be the opportunity to silence critics who suggested that they were looking outclassed in the current 12th edition by their experienced male rivals.

True, the Swedish entry had yet to win a podium place until now, but the crew has clearly improved leg after leg and many observers felt that a breakthrough performance was just around the corner.

The win was certainly no fluke in an upwind leg that tested seamanship to the full with an often heinous sea state and strong winds virtually throughout.

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient. (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

They grabbed the 647-nautical mile leg from Lisbon by the scruff of the neck on Monday, and strengthened that grip on Tuesday after taking an offshore course while most of their rivals hugged the Spanish and French coast approaching the Bay of Biscay.

It took them three days 13 hours 11 minutes and 11 seconds to grab their share of Race history.

“Thanks to everybody for all your support. It’s not really sunk in yet,” said a jubilant Davies. “It probably won’t hit us until we hit the dock and we see there aren’t any other boats there.

“It’s a reward for all the hard work we have done. It’s a great confidence booster. It’s going to be huge for us. We’ve had a mountain to climb to get here.”

June 11, 2015. Team Vestas Wind arrives in second position for Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team Vestas Wind arrives in second position for Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

Behind them, another fairy-tale was unfolding as Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) closed to a remarkable second-placed finish in their return to the race after six months out following a collision with an Indian Ocean reef on November 29 during Leg 2.

Nicholson had every reason for the huge smile on his face as he approached the port of Lorient following a near perfect race from Lisbon starting on Sunday.

He had simply hoped that his boat could negotiate the leg without mishap and be competitive – a high podium finish is almost beyond his wildest dreams.

June 11, 2015. Team Vestas Wind arrives in second position for Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team Vestas Wind arrives in second position for Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

“It’s a very special moment,” said the team’s Onboard Reporter, Brian Carlin (IRL), simply.

Astern of the leading pair, third-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) were nearing an ever bigger prize than the handsome silver leg trophy claimed by Team SCA.

They needed simply to finish ahead of their nearest overall pursuers in the standings,Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), with a boat in between, to be all but be sure of winning the 12th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

As Team SCA passed the finish at 0211 UTC/0411 local time on Thursday, that prospect looked very much on with MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) in fourth, Team Brunel fifth, and Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) keeping Dongfeng Race Team at bay in the fight for sixth.

The boats will have a short maintenance period before Sunday’s SCA In-Port Race here in Lorient, before the fleet set sail for Gothenburg via a much-awaited pit-stop in The Hague, on Tuesday, June 16.

It promises to be a period of considerable celebration for at least three crews of very, very happy sailors.

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (Photo by Ricardo Pinto / Volvo Ocean Race)

June 11, 2015. Team SCA wins Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient (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)

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

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 )