Leg 3, Cape Town to Melbourne, day 10, on board Turn the Tide on Plastic. Photo by Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race. 19 December, 2017.

The Volvo Ocean Race Science Programme reached a significant milestone when the race completed a global circumnavigation following its arrival into Cardiff, Wales in May 2018, eight months after departing from Alicante, Spain.

Out of a total of 68 samples taken during the course of the Volvo Ocean Race, only two, collected south of Australia and east of Argentina, have been found to contain no microplastics.

The most recent data, taken from sub-surface seawater samples collected on board Team AkzoNobel and Turn the Tide on Plastic boats, found 75 particles of microplastics per cubic metre in one taken off the US coast following the stopover in Newport, Rhode Island.

Levels of 73 and 76 particles of microplastics per cubic metre were recorded as the boats headed towards the mid-Atlantic. These could be connected to the edge of the North Atlantic garbage patch, one of five ocean ‘gyres’, estimated to be hundreds of kilometres across in size.

In the mid-Atlantic, 63 particles of microplastics per cubic metre were recorded, while close to Cardiff, levels were slightly higher with 65 particles of microplastics per cubic metre found.

Earlier in the race, in the Southern Ocean, close to Point Nemo the furthest point from land on Earth, there were between nine and 26 particles of microplastic per cubic metre. Close to Antarctic waters in the South Indian Ocean levels of microplastics were as high as 25 particles per cubic metre

The highest levels of microplastic found so far, 349 particles per cubic metre were found in a sample taken in the South China Sea that feeds into the Kurushio Current and the North Pacific Gyre. The next highest levels, 307 particles per cubic metre, were found at the point where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet.

The microplastic samples were analysed by members of the Volvo Ocean Race scientific consortium in Kiel, Germany.  The data is then uploaded to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) microplastics database where scientists are able to access it open source.

Dr. Toste Tanhua of GEOMAR Institute for Ocean Research Kiel, funded by the Cluster of Excellence Future Ocean, carried out the analysis and is presenting the findings at the Volvo Ocean Race Ocean Summit in The Hague, Netherlands on Thursday 28th June.

Dr. Tanhua said: He said: Thanks to the great cooperation of the Volvo Ocean Race and the teams on the water, we have been able to collect a very valuable and unique data set during the race which we have been able to share with the wider scientific community. Unfortunately, almost all the samples contained microplastics, meaning that the plastics are carried with ocean currents to the most remote parts of the world’s oceans.”

The series of seven Ocean Summits have convened key stakeholders at race stopovers where announcements by governments, business and a range of organisations, have resulted in significant steps to help tackle the global ocean plastic crisis.

The latest samples were collected on the 3,300 nautical mile leg from Newport to Cardiff. The boats also collect other oceanographic data measurements including temperature, dissolved CO2, salinity, algae content (as chlorophyll) that gives an indication of levels of ocean health and acidification.

Volvo Ocean Race boats are also collecting data that is essential for forecasting of future weather and climate changes, in both the short and long term. This is already being utilised by the World Meteorological Organisation and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

 Anne-Cecile Turner, Sustainability Programme Leader for the Volvo Ocean Race, added: “The race has now come full circle and the fact that just two of the samples didn’t contain microplastics clearly shows how pervasive they have become.

“The collation of a complete data set by this elite scientific consortium is of exceptional value and provides an historic legacy and clear benchmark for our future understanding of the world’s oceans and climate.”

Microplastics are often invisible to the naked eye and can take thousands of years to degrade. By collecting information on their levels, the Science Programme is helping scientists gain insight into the scale of plastic pollution and its impact upon marine life.

Microplastics in our ocean preliminary data

The Volvo Ocean Race Sustainability Programme is a partnership in collaboration with Sustainability Partners 11th Hour Racing, the Mirpuri Foundation and our other main partners, Volvo, AkzoNobel, Ocean Family Foundation, Stena Recycling and Bluewater. The Turn the Tide on Plastic boat is, furthermore, supported the by Sky Ocean Rescue.

The Volvo Ocean Race Science Programme is funded by Volvo Cars, who are donating €100 from first 3,000 sales of the new Volvo V90 Cross Country Volvo Ocean Race edition to support the initiative.

Stuart Templar, Director of Sustainability at Volvo Cars, said: “This ground breaking programme has provided invaluable data on the health of our oceans, particularly the global extent of the problem of marine plastic pollution.

“It’s clear that the time for inaction is over, and it’s the responsibility of all of us, including industry, to both make better use of plastic and say no to single use plastic. Volvo Cars is proud to have supported the programme and we would like to thank all those involved, especially The Turn The Tide On Plastic and AkzoNobel crews, as well as the excellent team at GEOMAR.”

At the Ocean Summit in Newport, Volvo Cars stated that they would be removing all single use plastic items from their offices, restaurants and events by the end of 2019. In Gothenburg, they announced that from 2025, at least 25% of the plastic in newly launched Volvos would be made from recycled material.

To further our understanding of the issues connected to plastics the Sustainability Programme is conducting a post race workshop with key global stakeholders from science, academia, the private sector and other institutions to explore the theme: ‘’From micro to nano plastic pollution: the current situation and our knowledge gaps.

UN Environment #CleanSeas campaign, which partners with the Race, aims to encourage governments, businesses and individuals to make changes in their own lives to reduce their plastic footprint.

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.

Official unveiling of the OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black "Volvo Ocean Race" Limited Edition timepiece (Photo © George Bekris)

Official unveiling of the OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black “Volvo Ocean Race” Limited Edition timepiece (Photo © George Bekris)

As the Official Timekeeper of the Volvo Ocean Race, OMEGA has been keeping a precise eye on this year’s action at sea. The sailors have now stopped in Newport, Rhode Island, to complete Leg 8 of the race, and OMEGA celebrated the moment by unveiling its newly-designed winner’s watch.

The Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black “Volvo Ocean Race” Limited Edition by OMEGA (Photo © George Bekris)

The Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black “Volvo Ocean Race” Limited Edition by OMEGA (Photo © George Bekris)

 The Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black “Volvo Ocean Race” Limited Edition will be presented to the winning team of this year’s race when it concludes in The Hague in June. The timepiece will also be available publicly, but only 73 models have been created overall (in tribute to the year that the Ocean Race first began).

 Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO of OMEGA, recently spoke about the watch and said, “OMEGA has loved following this exciting and unique race so far. We wanted our winner’s watch to be as beautifully designed as the boats themselves, and also precise and robust to reflect the tough sailing conditions that the competitors face. I think the ‘Deep Black’ is the perfect way to do this and we’re looking forward to presenting it to the winning team.”

Raynald Aeschlimann, President and CEO of OMEGA, America’s Cup Emirates Team New Zealand’s winning skipper Peter Burling and MAPFRE helmsman and trimmer Blake Tuke at unveiling (Photo © George Bekris)

 The 45.50 mm timepiece is a divers’ chronograph with a black rubber strap, yet its strong design is just as capable of withstanding the extreme pressures of ocean sailing. The casebody has been crafted from black ceramic, while red rubber has been used to cover the first 15 minutes of the unidirectional bezel. Liquidmetal™ then completes the rest of the diving scale.

 

The brushed black ceramic dial includes each Limited Edition number, as well as 18K white gold hour-minute hands and indexes. On the subdial at 3 o’clock, OMEGA has included a red Volvo Ocean Race ring with coloured hands and number 12. Another reference to the event can be found on the oriented caseback, where OMEGA has included the official “Volvo Ocean Race” logo.

OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black being modeled by Blair Tuke (Photo © George Bekris)

OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean Deep Black being modeled by Blair Tuke (Photo © George Bekris)

Finally, it’s important to note that the winner’s watch reaches the pinnacle of precision, thanks to its OMEGA Master Chronometer calibre 9900. Having passed the 8 rigorous tests set by the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS), this Master Chronometer certification represents the highest standard of performance in the Swiss watch industry.

Brian Carlin gave the press some insights on life aboard a VOR65 for the Imbedded Media Crew. (Photo © George Bekris)

Brian Carlin gave the press some insights on life aboard a VOR65 for the Embedded Media Crew. (Photo © George Bekris)

Prior to the unveiling Brian Carlin former embedded media crew on Vestas gave the press some insight into the life of they lead on the VOR65. The embedded are not allowed to participate in the sailing other than making coffee which he said can make you popular or unpopular depending on your ability to brew a pot.

The coverage a media member on the team has also changed drastically with this edition of the VOR because of the introduction to drone photography and video coverage.  They now have the ability to shoot photos and video from above and hundreds of feet away from the boat at distances out to sea that in other races was beyond the reach of chase boats and helicopters. For the first time 1500 miles from land in the southern ocean they have the ability to document and stream beautifully composed documentation of the boats at sea. It gives the audience around the world an ability to see what usually a helicopter would only be able to see. That prior to now has always been an impossibility in the VOR and any circumnavigations of the world where the boats travel well offshore. They can also inspect the rigging from above and meters away from the masts and sails for any impending problems or concerns.

I did have one question I asked Brian and that was if they lost any of those new drones to the ocean. He smiled and declined to tell me the number they have lost only that accidents do happen out there. I took that to mean the did loose at least one prior to arriving in Newport. But for the advantages given by having those drones losing a couple is probably an acceptable risk.

One shot I liked in the photo display at the village was by Media crew Jen Edney was a photo of a crew members watch wrapped on a stuffed animal. A little touch of soft comfy home life in comparison to the harsh environment they face daily and no doubt that stuffed animal was looked at numerous times daily to keep track of time.

Stuffed animal timekeeper by embedded Media crew Jen Edney (Photo © George Bekris)

Brian also took the press by photos taken by various embedded media crew during the legs so far. There was a display of prints by each boats media crew and some of their favorite shots.  As you can imagine it’s difficult to be in a 65 by 20 foot space for months at a time and keep the photography fresh and interesting.

 

 

Press conference for the OMEGA unveiling at the Sailor's Terrace in Newport. (Photo © George Bekris)

Press conference for the OMEGA unveiling at the Sailor’s Terrace in Newport. (Photo © George Bekris)

#VOR  #OMEGA #Seamaster #LimitedEdition #SeamasterPlanetOcean #VolvoOceanRace #VolvoOceanRaceNewport #VORnewport

 

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. 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)

The Spanish team MAPFRE stunned the Volvo Ocean Race fleet on Tuesday morning by stealing a win in Leg 8, with a shocking come-from-behind victory into Newport, Rhode Island.

On Monday, with just 300 miles to go, MAPFRE was in fifth place.

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)

As Tuesday morning dawned, and with the fleet ghosting towards the finish line in extremely light and shifty winds, Xabi Fernández’s team was among the leading quartet, battling in slow motion with Team Brunel, Dongfeng Race Team and Vestas 11th Hour Racing.

And even when the leaders were just 500 metres from the finish line, MAPFRE was still trailing Team Brunel as the pair emerged from the fog within sight of the spectators at the Fort Adams Race Village.

But on approach to the final turning mark, MAPFRE picked up a zephyr of wind to sneak past Brunel and claim what just moments earlier would have been seen as a very improbable leg win.

“This is unbelievable,” skipper Xabi Fernández admitted moments after crossing the finish line. “I can’t be happier. We were always hoping to come back a little bit but to be honest we were not expecting to win this leg, so we’re super happy.

“Our hopes were always that there would be a compression so we could catch someone… Last night has been crazy how much everything has closed up and everyone on board did an amazing job.”

Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel, who had been leading for most of the past week after the equator crossing took a well-deserved second place finish.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 17 on board Dongfeng. 08 May, 2018. Kevin and Marie sleeping at the bow, waiting for the finish. (Photo by Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 17 on board Dongfeng. 08 May, 2018. Kevin and Marie sleeping at the bow, waiting for the finish. (Photo by Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

Dongfeng Race Team, who had been ahead of the fleet on the approach to the east coast overnight Monday night, suffered the cruellest fate over the final miles.

Every break seemed to go against Charles Caudrelier’s team and after being in position to claim the leg win, the team had to settle for fourth place with Vestas 11th Hour Racing storming past Caudrelier’s crew in the final mile of the leg.

“This leg has had its ups and downs,” said Charlie Enright, the skipper of Vesta 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 Nick Dana on Vestas 11th Hour Racing as well as Mark Towill who did his college sailing nearby.

“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 final hours were painful for the exhausted sailors but extraordinary to watch. With the wind nearly shutting down overnight on the approach to Newport, the fleet found itself pushed around by the tide and currents near shore, at times even drifting backwards, away from the finish line.

This meant there was a high degree of uncertainty. Positions were never secure until the finish line was breached by MAPFRE. No one suffered more in the final miles than Dongfeng’s Caudrelier.

“We’re very disappointed,” he said. “We were dreaming about a victory here… But it makes me angry and I will be better on the next one. I am already focussed on the future and I promise Dongfeng will do a fantastic job on the next one.”

The shocking win by MAPFRE has a huge impact on the overall race leaderboard where MAPFRE has regained the lead from Dongfeng, and now sits three points clear at the head of the table. Brunel retains the third podium position.

The light winds near the finish resulted in a massive compression in the fleet, all the way back to SHK/Scallywag who were trailing the leaders by over 130 miles just one day ago. But as MAPFRE crossed the finish line on Tuesday morning, David Witt’s team was less than 20 miles behind.

Race boats docked at Newport Race Village (Photo by George Bekris)

Race boats docked at Newport Race Village (Photo by George Bekris)

 

Leg 8
Itajaí to Newport
8 May 2018
Positions at: 14:04 UTC
DTL nm GAIN_LOSS STS SPE CO TW T DTF
1 MAPF ARV Elapsed time: 15d 17:44:29
2 TBRU ARV Elapsed time: 15d 17:45:30
3 VS11 ARV Elapsed time: 15d 17:59:04
4 DFRT ARV Elapsed time: 15d 18:25:21
5 AKZO ARV Elapsed time: 15d 19:21:22
6 TTOP ARV Elapsed time: 15d 19:24:14
7 SHKS ARV Elapsed time: 15d 20:56:52
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Extras Total
1 MAPF 6 7 14 4 1 5 6 7 3 53
2 DFRT 5 6 12 6 1 4 12 4 50
3 TBRU 2 4 8 3 1 2 14 6 2 42
4 AKZO 4 3 2 5 1 7 10 3 1 36
5 VS11 7 5 10 0 0 0 0 5 1 28
6 SHKS 3 2 6 7 1 6 0 1 1 27
7 TTOP 1 1 4 2 1 3 8 2 22
Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Brunel. Peeling in the North Atlantic one day out from Newport. 06 May, 2018. (Photo © Sam Greenfield/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Brunel. Peeling in the North Atlantic one day out from Newport. 06 May, 2018.
(Photo © Sam Greenfield/Volvo Ocean Race)

Team Brunel were on the brink of Leg 8 victory on Monday as they led the seven-strong Volvo Ocean Race fleet towards Newport, USA, with a 14-mile advantage.

The Dutch crew, skippered by esteemed round the world yachtsman Bouwe Bekking, were speeding up after making it through a light wind patch lying 200 miles from the finish line ahead of their rivals.

At 0700 UTC their lead had been reduced to just seven miles, pressed hard by Franco-Chinese outfit Dongfeng Race Team, but by 1300 the new breeze had allowed them to double that.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Vestas 11th Hour. Charlie Enright at the pit before the gybe. 06 May, 2018. (Photo © Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Vestas 11th Hour. Charlie Enright at the pit before the gybe. 06 May, 2018. (Photo © Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race)

Brunel had just 182.2 miles to go at the 1300 UTC position update, having led the fleet on the 5,600-mile leg from Itajai, Brazil, since exiting the Doldrums a week ago.

If Brunel were to hang on it would be their second consecutive stage win having taken the top spot in Leg 7.

However, despite Brunel’s lead, helmsman Kyle Langford is predicting a photo finish.

“There’s going to be plenty of action on deck and not a lot of sleep,” he said. “It’s going to be all on for the last 24 hours.”

Across the fleet the crews were today preparing for one last big push.

“We now have 30 hours of hard work, strong winds, light winds, big transitions and lots of   sail changes,” said Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Dongfeng. 06 May, 2018. Charles Caudrelier stacking while Jackson gets out of the hatch, ready to help. (Photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Dongfeng. 06 May, 2018. Charles Caudrelier stacking while Jackson gets out of the hatch, ready to help. (Photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

“All the team is in inshore mode and on standby. We have to keep this second place or pass Team Brunel, but ahead of us we face a very tricky situation and there are lots of options and maybe a re-start in light air in 12 hours’ time.

“We need maximum concentration. There is maximum stress on board but we are happy to arrive in this fantastic place for a stopover.”

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Turn the Tide on Plastic. 07 May, 2018. (Photo © James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Turn the Tide on Plastic. 07 May, 2018. (Photo © James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race)

Having climbed through the fleet over the past few days, at 1300 UTC MAPFRE had overhauled Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic in the rankings to move into third.

It’s a cruel blow for Turn the Tide on Plastic crew, who have pushed for the top spot all leg and led at times, but skipper Dee Caffari said she wouldn’t stop fighting until the finish.

“It’s disappointing but there are still opportunities,” she said. “The wind is starting to fill, and it’s not over yet.”

The Volvo Ocean Race tracker will remain live until the end of the leg, showing race fans the exact positions of the fleet as they battle for Leg 8 glory.

The latest ETA for the leading boats is 0600 – 1000 UTC at the moment.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board MAPFRE, back to 20+ kts of boat speed. Rob, Willy, Xabi an Tamara on deck. 06 May, 2018. ( Photo © Ugo Fonolla/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board MAPFRE, back to 20+ kts of boat speed. Rob, Willy, Xabi an Tamara on deck. 06 May, 2018. ( Photo © Ugo Fonolla/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

 

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)