Down to the Wire in the VOR

Author:
Updated:
Original:
It’s been good times aboard Team Brunel of late with yet another leg win

It’s been good times aboard Team Brunel of late with yet another leg win

Before the start of Leg 9 from Newport, Rhode Island, to Cardiff, Wales, Dutch-flagged Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking described it as a “must win” for his crew after finishing first and second in the previous two legs.

Well, win it they did, and in the process, they not only helped scramble up the leaderboard in this year’s Volvo Ocean Race, but they have created a situation in which the top three boats are now all within a mere three points of one another with just two short offshore legs to go. Meanwhile, at the other end of the emotional spectrum, by finishing a disappointing fifth, Spain’s Mapfre now finds itself falling from first to second overall and in very real danger of falling back into third.

Leg 9 was another wild one, which saw the fleet plunge into a thick fog soon after leaving Newport, and then split dramatically as three boats gybed north at the end of the first day, with the other four continuing on a course farther south. It then ended in what is the now typical VOR nail-biter, with the other Dutch-flagged boat, Simeon Tienpont’s team AkzoNobel, holding the slimmest of leads just hours before the finish, only to have Team Brunel leapfrog ahead in the strong currents and light winds of the Bristol Channel to secure the win by a mere 4 minutes 5 seconds.

It’s been tough times, however, for Mapfre, shown here struggling in light air early on in Leg 9

It’s been tough times, however, for Mapfre, shown here struggling in light air early on in Leg 9

Team Brunel’s accomplishment is all the more impressive given the fact that only a couple of days earlier, AkzoNobel beat the previous 24-hour VOR speed record by sailing an incredible 602.5 miles, thereby besting the record of 596 miles set by the Volvo Ocean 70 Ericsson 4 in 2008.

“We’re very happy with the result. To beat the two red boats (Dongfeng and MAPFRE) was the objective,” Bekking said after crossing the finish line. “Winning, of course, is nice, as well as to get the bonus point and then a nice fight to beat AkzoNobel in the end as well, so we’re a happy team… The aim [though] is to keep looking forward. We’ve closed the gap to MAPFRE and Dongfeng and victory remains our main objective.”

As for Mapfre, you can’t help but get the feeling that despite a strong showing in the early legs, the wheels are truly starting to come off with respect to their closest competition. “It hasn’t been an easy leg for us. It’s been painful from day one and we never could catch up,” admitted skipper Xabi Fernández referring to the passage from Newport. “But looking forward we feel confident. Hopefully, we can start well and fight boat to boat over the next two legs.”

Looking ahead, the next leg will take the fleet along a tricky course around the British Isles to Gothenburg, Sweden. After that comes yet another twisting and turning leg in late June from Gothenburg to the Hague. In other words, among the leaders, at least, it remains anyone’s game with respect to the final podium positions.

For latest on the VOR, including the complete overall standings, click here.   

May 2018 

Related

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 ...read more

Reflections-photo-CMerwarth

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 ...read more

DSC_0145

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 ...read more

01a-DJI_0398

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 ...read more

01-LEAD-23274-Coastal-Oilskins-GSP

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 ...read more

9e4d8714-2a8e-4e79-b8f6-c9786aaec4d0

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 ...read more

01-LEAD-Carmody-Distant-Drummer

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 ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_9186

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 ...read more