After their dramatic win in Newport (Itajai, Brazil to Newport, USA leg), Dongfeng Race Team have held the lead for significant parts of the race to Lisbon but currently sit in third place. Team Brunel lead the leg with a 6NM advantage over MAPFRE and Dongfeng with just 92 NM to the finish.
With wind in the region of 24 knots, and boat speeds averaging 21 knots, the boats are closing in fast on the finish line with the first boats expected to finish around midday today (HK, SG, BJ time). If Brunel take this leg, it will be bitter sweet with skipper Bouwe Bekking (NED) declaring recently that their challenge for the overall Volvo Ocean Race trophy was likely to fall short.
The 51-year-old had to order the abandonment of his sinking boat, movistar, in the 2005-06 edition at the same stage in the mid-Atlantic, a painful episode he had assured reporters last week that he had put behind him.
On arrival in third place in Newport earlier this month, he had glumly conceded that his record-equalling seventh bid for offshore sailing’s leading event looked to be heading for disappointment, with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 10 points clear of his crew.
However, if the current positions stay the same on this stage, they will cut that deficit by four points and leave the Dutch with a mathematical chance, at least, of catching the Emiratis in the last two legs to Lorient and Gothenburg, the latter via a pit-stop in The Hague.
If the current positions stay the same on this stage, they will cut that deficit by four points and leave the Dutch with a mathematical chance…of catching the Emiratis in the last two legs
And the Emirati boat, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are currently lagging in fifth place, giving the rest of the fleet a glimmer of hope that the 6 points lead that the team hold over second placed Dongfeng could be reduced to create an opening in the final two legs of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The window of opportunity is there for the Chinese team – by winning the leg they would close the gap to within a few points of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing thereby creating more close and exciting racing into the final two legs.
Meanwhile, on its way to Lisbon is the “new” Vestas boat. Having lost the old boat on a reef off Mauritius in the India Ocean (read about it here), the team have been madly constructing a new vessel albeit taking a few bits and pieces from the remains of the old one.
For more details on the Vestas efforts as well as the latest positions, standings and live feed for the Lisbon finish click here