Another Wild Volvo Race Finish

Mapfre and Team Brunel battle through the fog just shy of the finish

Mapfre and Team Brunel battle through the fog just shy of the finish

For a number of years now, the Volvo Ocean Race has been synonymous with photo finishes at the conclusion of thousands of miles of racing. Still, even by VOR standards, Tuesday’s Leg 8 finish in Newport, Rhode Island, was an extraordinary one: with Spain’s Mapfre not only leapfrogging from fifth place right up into the thick of things in the final 24 hours, but pipping long-time leg-leader Team Brunel at the post just 50 yards shy of the line after the better part of 6,000 miles of racing. Incredible!

In doing so, the team also grabbed the lead overall, an incredible turnaround from a disappointing Leg 7 around Cape Horn when the team finished fifth after having to temporarily suspend racing in order to repair its damaged main.

“This is unbelievable,” Mapfre skipper Xabi Fernández said 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 [it was] crazy how much everything has closed up and everyone on board did an amazing job.”

A jubilant Xabi Fernández (second from left) celebrates his team’s incredible victory moments after crossing the finish line

A jubilant Xabi Fernández (second from left) celebrates his team’s incredible victory moments after crossing the finish line

Meanwhile, at the other end of the emotional spectrum were Team Brunel’s skipper Bouwe Bekking and Dongfeng’s French-born skipper Charles Caudrelier, whose team had appeared to be well positioned for a possible win as the fleet first began battling its way through the fog and zephyrs guarding the finish off Fort Adams in Narragansett Bay, but instead ended up in fourth.

“We’re very disappointed,” said Caudrelier, whose team had been in first overall at the start of the leg, but is now three points off the pace in second. “We were dreaming about a victory here…. It makes me angry, and I will be better on the next one. I am already focused on the future, and I promise Dongfeng will do a fantastic job on the next one.”

As for Bekking, whose team is now securely in third overall with six points between it and fourth-place AkzoNobel, while he and his team were understandably disappointed, they remained philosophical as well.

The fog of war: Team Brunel (at right) does everything it can to try and keep Mapfre at bay

The fog of war: Team Brunel (at right) does everything it can to try and keep Mapfre at bay

"In the end, it was an annoying finish line for us. But it was exciting, so I hope the audience was able to enjoy it,” said Bekking, whose team had been on top ever since being the first to emerge from the doldrums over a week ago. “Mapfre was the first to cross the finish line, so they have rightly won."

"Obviously I'm pretty disappointed,” added America’s Cup hero and Team Brunel trimmer Peter Burling. “I felt like we sailed a really good leg. To lose the lead to Mapfre with only 0.5 mile to go on one puff drifting along is hard. But we're happy that we're second. It could be way worse. Look at what happened to Dongfeng."

The fleet all lines up alongside the Coast Guard bark Eagle off Fort Adams   

The fleet all lines up alongside the Coast Guard bark Eagle off Fort Adams   

Rounding out the podium was Charlie Enright and Mark Towill’s joint U.S./Danish effort, Vestas 11th Hour Racing, which is now very much racing for pride after missing out on no less than four finishes after a collision with a fishing vessel during Leg 4 and a dismasting in Leg 7. For video of the entire Newport finish in all its nail-biting glory, click here

Meanwhile, the fleet having blasted its way north in record time, the Volvo Race Village out on Newport’s Fort Adam is now officially open, with dozens of activities on tap for race fans of all ages. Between now and the start of Leg 9, across the Atlantic to Cardiff, Wales, on May 20, there will also be a number of on-the-water events, including a practice race on Wednesday, May 16, a Pro-Am Race on May 17, and the official VOR in-port race on Saturday, May 19.

For complete details on the Newport stopover, click here

May 2018


2.4mR's racing at the 2018 Clagett Regatta-US Para Sailing Championships credit Clagett Regatta-Andes Visual

Host for 2021 U.S. Para Sailing Championships Announced

The 2021 U.S. Para Sailing Championships will be hosted by The Clagett Regatta at Sail Newport, in Newport, R.I. on August, 24-29, 2021, according to a joint announcement from the host and US Sailing. "We have had a very long working relationship with US Sailing and look forward more


Cruising: Reflections of an Old Salt

I am 90 years old, dwindling in mind and body and fear living too long. Twenty years have passed since I last weighed anchor. Still, when a Carolina blue sky is polka-dotted with billowing cumulus clouds and the wind blows fair, I sorely miss raising sail and setting forth. I more


Waterlines: Solo Sailing

In spite of the fact I came to the sport of sailing alone and untutored, in a boat I acquired on my own, I never really aspired to become a solo sailor. It just sort of happened. All these years later, I still never explicitly plan to sail anywhere alone. I’m always happy to more


Racing The M32 Class

This year the M32 celebrates its 10th birthday. Swedish Olympic bronze medalist Göran Marström and Kåre Ljung designed the M32 in 2011 as the latest addition to an already impressive portfolio that includes the Tornado, M5 A-Class, M20 catamaran and the Extreme 40. Two years more


Know how: Cleats, Clutches and Jammers

Since the invention of rope, there has also been a need to belay or secure it. Every sailboat has rope on board so, unless you own a superyacht with captive reels or winches, you’re going to have to find a way to make it fast. (As a side note—and before you reach for your more


Antigua Sailing Week Announces Women’s Mentorship Program

In partnership with the Antigua and Barbuda Marine Association, Antigua Sailing Week is launching a mentorship program to encourage women and girls to join the sport of sailing. President of Antigua Sailing Week, Alison Sly-Adams says, “When we devised the program, we looked at more


Experience: A Badly Snagged Prop in Haiti

When a winter norther blows through the Bahamas, the northeast trades can reach gale force as they funnel through the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti. After waiting for a lull, though, we had a fabulous beam reach aboard our Liberty 458, Distant Drummer, from Santiago de more


Charter Cruise to La Paz Mexico

Just 24 hours before our scheduled charter in the Bahamas, the government clamped down again on visitors from the United States. Having endured two Covid-19 brain swabs in preparation, I looked at my packed bag on the floor and reached for the rum. I could, at least, pretend I more