Skip to main content

A Dramatic Comeback in the Volvo

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:
Team Brunel thunders toward the finish of Leg 10 en route to setting up a three-way tie for the overall lead with just one leg to go

Team Brunel thunders toward the finish of Leg 10 en route to setting up a three-way tie for the overall lead with just one leg to go

After winning three of the last four legs in the Volvo Ocean Race (and coming in second in the fourth), Dutch-flagged Brunel is now tied for first overall with Spanish-flagged Mapfre and Chinese-flagged Dongfeng following the completion of Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales, to Gothenburg, Sweden. As a result, at the end of eight months of racing it’s all come down to the final leg from Gothenburg to The Hague, with a kind of three-boat “match race” now set to decide the overall winner. Before the start back in Cardiff, Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking’s had said his goal was to “beat the two red boats,” i.e., his Spanish and Chinese rivals, which is just what he did, setting up the current situation. The question is whether he and the rest of his surging team can do it again.

It all began back in the Southern Ocean on Leg 7, when Brunel turned around the less than stellar form it had shown thus far and grabbed its first win, despite being in sixth place overall. After that came a heartbreaking second-place finish in Newport, when Mapfre pulled ahead in the final moments of a windless finish in Narragansett Bay. Nonetheless, Brunel’s performance still helped it close the gap with Dongfeng, which finished fifth (and continued to hold the lead thanks in part of Maprfre’s having to temporarily suspend racing off Cape Horn in Leg 7 to repair a tattered main).

Team Brunel leads Mapfre toward the finish at the very end of Leg 10   

Team Brunel leads Mapfre toward the finish at the very end of Leg 10   

Then came Leg 9 across the Atlantic to Cardiff, a double-points leg, in which Brunel not only finished first, but Dongfeng finished third and Mapfre finished a disappointing fifth. This truly opened the door for the now clearly surging Brunel, which then promptly went storming through it in Leg 10. In fact, Bekking couldn’t have asked for better, with his team not only coming from behind to steal the win from Mapfre, but Dongfeng also fading dramatically after having seized the lead immediately after the leg’s light-air start, ultimately finishing fourth.

“We did a fantastic job as a team, and of course the result was better than we could have dreamed,” Bekking said, ashore in Gothenburg. “The pressure was on, but we knew we just needed to sail the boat the best we could and not do any crazy things. Very happy how it all ended up.”

 A jubilant Bouwe Bekking (at left) celebrates the latest win in his team’s dramatic comeback   

 A jubilant Bouwe Bekking (at left) celebrates the latest win in his team’s dramatic comeback   

“It was a very good leg for us and a good result as well, but a little bit painful the way it happened,” said Mapfre skipper, Xabi Fernández. “We felt we did the hardest part of the leg, up the coast of Scotland, and managed to be in the lead there, but we just couldn’t hold Brunel on the tight reaching. They’ve been improving a lot on the last legs, but it was a surprise to see such a speed difference.”

As for Dongfeng, skipper Charles Caudrelier has been growing increasingly frustrated of late with his team’s performance relative to his two rivals, but still, he is doing his best to remain optimistic. “For the fans, it’s going to be an exciting last leg,” he said of the final sprint to The Hague. “And for us as well. We will give all we have and try for our first leg victory. But really, we just have to be ahead of the other two. We can do it!”

For now though, its rest up for the crews and the boats back in shape for the shore teams. Leg 11, from Gothenburg to The Hague, is scheduled to start June 21. For the latest updates from Sweden, click here

June 2018.

Related

Background-02

Notice to Mariners: A Blog from the SAIL Editors

As a teenager, I stumbled across a copy of Derek Lundy’s Godforsaken Sea in the back room of a used bookshop. I had never heard of the Vendée Globe and frankly found all the boat-speak in the first 50 pages a little difficult to get through. But Lundy’s storytelling and the draw ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

VIDEO: Celestial Navigation Episode 2

Celestial navigation is an invaluable tool for all kinds of sailors. In episode two of the celestial navigation series, learn the basic elements of navigation and the sight reduction process using declination and GHA to determine the Geographic Position and navigate using a ...read more

Film-poster

Cruising: Year of the Sea Shanty

Along with other timeless pursuits, like baking sourdough and gardening, singing sea shanties surged back into popularity during the recent lockdown, thanks, in part, to the app TikTok and its “duet” feature, which allows singers from around the world create music together. By ...read more

Book-Cover-9780712353700

Book Review: Sailor Song

Sailor Song is the ultimate guide to the music of working sailors during the 18th and 19th centuries. The book includes lyrics and sheet music for 50 of the most beloved sea songs with fascinating historical background on the adjoining page. Chapter introductions provide ...read more

Screen Shot 2022-01-12 at 10.42.33 AM

Race Update: RORC Transat

With the fleet leaders about halfway to Grenada, the 2022 RORC Transatlantic is shaking out to be a tactically interesting one. The race, now in its 8th edition, began on Saturday with 30 teams ranging from 70-foot catamarans to a 28-foot JPK 1010. Early in the race, light winds ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_1585

Experience: Fire Down Below

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, local racing had resumed with household crews only. My wife, though, while always up for a pleasure sail, was not up for this kind of thing, so, for the fifth time in what was any measure an unusual sailing season, I found myself singlehanding my ...read more

BestBoats2022-logo

Best Boats 2022

In case you hadn’t heard, the fall 2021 boat show season was one for the record books. If there was ever any doubt the sailing public still enjoys making its way to Newport, Rhode Island, or Annapolis, Maryland, to see the latest in boat design, those doubts were put to rest ...read more

01-LEAD-Dominique-David-2048x

Mulithull Show Coming to La Grande-Motte

After a year without boat shows, 2021 proved to be a blockbuster summer and fall for events around the globe, and the International Mulithull Show is looking to continue that trend in 2022. First held in 2010, the show, which takes place in La Grand-Motte, France, on the shores ...read more