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Thread: 2017 - 2018 Volvo Ocean Race

  1. #411
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    Aarhus Flyby



    Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE in tense match race towards Aarhus






    Dongfeng Race Team holds a narrow lead over MAPFRE after one day of racing in the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. Team Brunel is in fourth place.

    Arch rivals Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE were locked in a bitter tussle for the Leg 11 lead – and overall Volvo Ocean Race victory – on Friday as they led the fleet towards the Danish city of Aarhus.

    One third of the way through the 970-mile sprint final leg from Gothenburg to The Hague the seven teams were today split by less than 20 miles as they charged south through the Kattegat, the strait separating Sweden and Denmark.

    After rounding the first course mark off Norway overnight, the leading pair profited from better breeze than their counterparts and extended the gap at the front.








    With the second mark at Aarhus, on Denmark’s east coast, just 10 miles away, the two red boats were just one-mile apart as of 1200 UTC, keeping alive the battle that will grant overall race victory to whichever of Dongfeng, MAPFRE and Team Brunel finishes ahead of the others.

    Their closest rivals on the race course, Vestas 11th Hour Racing, were a little under six miles back, in third place, while Brunel held down fourth but have work to do to narrow a gap of over 15 miles.

    As well as being a monstrous battle between the crews, the race for the overall title is also a personal one.

    Charles Caudrelier skippered Dongfeng to third spot in the 2014-15 edition, while Brunel, under race veteran Bouwe Bekking’s leadership, finished second.

    MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernández has raced four times but never lifted the trophy.

    What’s more, if MAPFRE or Team Brunel win the race, either MAPFRE’s Blair Tuke or Brunel’s Peter Burling will become the first sailor ever to complete the ‘triple crown’: victory in the Olympics, the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race.

    But one-third of the way through the challenging final leg, the focus has narrowed to the next manoeuvre, the next transition.

    “This downwind section has been pretty tricky – in general there’s been a big extension,” MAPFRE’s Tuke said.






    “We’ve gained quite a lot on Brunel, AkzoNobel and Vestas. We’ve managed to stay close to Dongfeng but for a little while it was pretty scary – they managed to get five or six miles in front of us. As we’ve come into Denmark we’ve compressed again.

    “We’re now on one of our fastest sail setups, so all’s good but hopefully we can catch up even more, and, at some stage before The Hague, pass them.”

    On Brunel the crew were cursing their luck as they watched the gap to the frontrunners grow – but had faith in the forecast which predicts the wind to drop coming into Aarhus, providing an opportunity to catch up.

    “It’s been a case of ‘the rich get richer’ since rounding the mark off Norway,” Burling said. “The fleet’s been expanding a little, but there should be a pretty good compression as we come into Aarhus. Hopefully we can catch up with them again.”





    TRACKER


    Skipper Bouwe Bekking added: “We didn't sail too smart yesterday afternoon and that has become expensive. At the rounding mark off Norway still in good contention, but then it went backwards. We will keep fighting until the end.”

    Onboard Dongfeng, the crew were taking nothing for granted.

    “We’ve sailed really nicely against MAPFRE and they’re still behind us,” Dongfeng watch captain Daryl Wislang said. “Let’s hope it can stay like that. It’s going to be a battle that’s for sure.”

    After rounding the Aarhus mark the fleet will then head north to a virtual mark close to the Norwegian coast, which they will leave to port, before beginning the run south into the Leg 11 finish line at the Dutch capital of The Hague.

    The current ETA sees the leaders arriving on Sunday afternoon local time.

    ehind the leading group, the battle for sixth place on the overall leaderboard continues between SHK/Scallywag and Turn the Tide on Plastic. Currently, the pair are sailing bow to bow with a slight edge to the Scallywags.

    Follow every moment of the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race - Go to www.volvooceanrace.com for live coverage on the Race Tracker as well as the latest content from the race boats.

    There will also be live aerial footage of the fleet as they fight it out in the final battle of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race.


    Volvo Ocean Race Leg 11 Leaderboard – 1200 UTC Thursday 22 June
    1. Dongfeng Race Team – 628.8 nautical miles to finish
    2. MAPFRE – 0.7 nautical miles to leader
    3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 5.6 nautical miles to leader
    4. Team Brunel – 14.8 nautical miles to leader
    5. team AkzoNobel – 16.3 distance to the leader
    6. SHK / Scallywag – 19.1 nautical miles to leader
    7. Turn the Tide on Plastic – 19.3 nautical miles to leader

    Volvo Ocean Race Overall Points Leaderboard after Leg 10
    1. MAPFRE – 65 points
    2. Team Brunel – 65 points
    3. Dongfeng Race Team – 64 points *
    4. team AkzoNobel – 53 points
    5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 38 points
    6. SHK / Scallywag – 30 points
    7. Turn the Tide on Plastic – 29 points
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  2. #412
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    First splits develop as race course options open up

    With the Norway turning mark in the rear-view mirror the Volvo Ocean Race fleet is now racing south to the finish in The Hague and the tactical options are opening up.

    Leg 11, from Gothenburg to The Hague, day 03 on board MAPFRE. 23 June, 2018.


    A brief split opened up in the Volvo Ocean Race fleet on Saturday afternoon as team AkzoNobel and Team Brunel were pushed by an unexpected windshift to pass north and west of a commercial Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) while the race leaders, Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE slid down the east side.

    The early advantage went to the race leaders, who increased their lead from eight to 12 miles.

    “The breeze just shifted so much that we were on the wrong side of the TSS so we opted to reach down alongside of it. But that’s expensive as it means we’re sailing 90-degrees to the finish,” explained Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking.







    “It’s just one of those things that happens during the race. We’ll lose Akzo as well (Ed: they did) as they tacked well before us and are just going to sail around us… Can’t change it.”

    But the split hasn’t fully played out yet. The two Dutch boats may be the first to pick up the stronger winds forecast for later this afternoon. But in a covering move, the race leaders quickly pointed their bows west in a protective maneuverer to minimize their exposure.

    “We are waiting to catch the new wind,” said Dongfeng Race Team navigator Pascal Bidégorry. “The wind will come from the northwest, very strong. So it will be a left shift. We are on port tack now, waiting for more left shift to be able to tack and take the strong northwest wind directly south to the finish.”









    Following a Friday night that saw the fleet compress through several light wind transitions, Charles Caudrelier’s Dongfeng Race Team emerged to round the Norway turning mark in first place at 0700 UTC on Saturday morning.

    Xabi Fernández’s MAPFRE crew was less than a mile behind, while Charlie Enright’s Vestas 11th Hour Racing was just three miles back.

    "We are pretty tight with Dongfeng and we have to keep pushing,” said Antonio Cuervos-Mons.

    “We still want to win this leg,” said Vestas 11th Hour Racing’s Jena Mai-Hansen, who sailed past her home port when the team took the turn at the Aarhus race mark on Friday afternoon. “The guys here are not too far in front of us and everything is full on for the three boats trying to win the race…”

    Saturday is the penultimate day for the final leg of this Volvo Ocean Race. Three teams still have a chance to win the overall race and the finishing order between MAPFRE, Dongfeng Race Team and Team Brunel will determine the podium order for the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18.

    With just 400 miles left to the finish line in The Hague, the stakes couldn’t be higher. The teams will need to navigate between more TSS exclusion zones before reaching The Hague and choices must be made shortly that will play out over the coming hours. Tension is running high on board. As is the exhaustion level.

    “I think we are going to sleep well when we arrive in The Hague,” Bidégorry said wryly. “We have only a bit more than one day to go and then the Volvo Ocean Race is finished. We have to keep on pushing to the maximum.”






    The race looks set to become even closer before that. Everyone is pushing to the maximum and with only eight miles separating the first five boats, mistakes will be punished.

    There is a battle at the back of the fleet as well where Turn the Tide on Plastic has turned the tables on SHK/Scallywag in the battle for sixth place. David Witt’s Scallywag has a tenuous one-point advantage on the leaderboard, but Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic could draw level by beating them this leg. Then, the In-Port Race on June 30 could determine the tie-break.

    The current ETA predicts the leaders will arrive on Sunday afternoon between 1300 and 1600 UTC -- mid-afternoon local time in The Hague.

    Follow every moment of the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race - Go to www.volvooceanrace.com for live coverage on the Race Tracker as well as the latest content from the race boats.

    There will also be live aerial footage of the fleet as they fight it out in the final battle of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race.


    Volvo Ocean Race Leg 11 Leaderboard – 1200 UTC Saturday 23 June
    1. Dongfeng Race Team – 409.2 nautical miles to finish
    2. MAPFRE – 0.2 nautical miles to leader
    3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 2.6 nautical miles to leader
    4. team AkzoNobel – 8.2 distance to the leader
    5. Team Brunel – 8.8 nautical miles to leader
    6. Turn the Tide on Plastic – 14.5 nautical miles to leader
    7. SHK / Scallywag – 15.1 nautical miles to leader

    Volvo Ocean Race Overall Points Leaderboard after Leg 10
    1. MAPFRE – 65 points
    2. Team Brunel – 65 points
    3. Dongfeng Race Team – 64 points *
    4. team AkzoNobel – 53 points
    5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 38 points
    6. SHK / Scallywag – 30 points
    7. Turn the Tide on Plastic – 29 points

    * One additional point will be awarded to the team with the best elapsed time at the conclusion of the race in The Hague. Currently, Dongfeng would win this point.
    ** 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.
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  3. #413
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    An incredible #Leg11 win from Charles Caudrelier's Chinese campaign secures them the ultimate glory – the @VolvoOceanRace trophy!

    In the closest finish in race history, Dongfeng Race Team has won the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18.

    Skipper Charles Caudrelier led his team to victory in 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 and 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 team made a bold call on Saturday evening to take a coastal route to the finish, pinned against the shoreline by a series of Exclusion Zones. It hurt them 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 teams finishing within minutes of each other. None had been able to break-away, despite the significant splits on the race course.

    At 15:22:32 UTC, it was Dongfeng Race Team, flying in down the coast from the north to win the leg, and the race.

    It was the closest finish in the 45-year history of the race and the first win for a Chinese-flagged team.

    MAPFRE was projected to finish second on the overall leaderboard with Team Brunel in position to earn third on the final race podium.

    team AkzoNobel, projected to finish in second place on Leg 11, would be the first of the two Dutch-flagged boats to the finish in The Hague with a solid fourth place finish in the overall race.

    -- MORE TO COME --

    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.
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    It's Official! IMOCA 60'ds To Join The Next Volvo Ocean Race




    A partnership agreement has been made with the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA), which provides the exclusivity to use the IMOCA 60 for crewed round the world yacht races.

    Last week, during the finish of the Volvo Ocean Race in The Hague, an Educational Session for interested parties was held around the IMOCA Class Rules.

    Sailors from the most recent Volvo Ocean Race and IMOCA events, along with yacht designers currently involved in construction of new IMOCA Class boats such as Guillaume Verdier and Juan Kouyoumdjian, came to The Hague to brainstorm around the changes.

    “This is a first step of many in preparing for the next edition of the race in 2021,” said Johan Salen, co-President of the race. “There is an ongoing co-operation process to put in place the elements we need to make the next race a success from a sporting and business point of view.

    “This is a complex matter with many perspectives, and we are respectfully welcoming continuous input from all key stakeholders, from World Sailing to individual sailors, teams and partners. We are confident that this is the right way forward.”





    “Moving the race into foiling monohulls under the IMOCA class will motivate more sailors, teams and the wider marine industry to prepare for the next edition. Partnering with the existing IMOCA infrastructure means the professional offshore sailing calendar becomes more unified and efficient, this helps the sport as a whole and helps to build a sustainable business model for teams and sailors.”

    “This agreement provides IMOCA owners and sailors with access to the premiere fully crewed offshore race in the world, which is also a great storytelling platform,” said Antoine Mermod, President of IMOCA.

    “As we work together to bring the most important offshore races in the world – short-handed and fully crewed – to the IMOCA class boats, it will allow us to grow the class internationally and offer more value to our stakeholders.”

    The move to include IMOCA boats will ensure the race continues to be at the forefront of yacht design and technology while challenging the best sailors in the world in a fully-crewed, offshore environment.

    A joint committee is being formed to draft a specific section of the Class Rules for Crewed IMOCA 60, respecting the spirit and intent of the partnership, which includes cost control, security and sporting fairness.








    The rule relating to crew numbers on board the IMOCA class in the next race is among the items under consideration, with the goal of retaining an On Board Reporter role.

    The latest Volvo Ocean Race concluded this past weekend having seen the closest racing in the 45-year history of the event. Three teams started the final leg with an opportunity to win the overall race title. With less than 10 miles left in the 45,000 nautical mile, 11-leg race, the outcome was still in doubt, until Charles Caudrelier’s Dongfeng Race Team finally slipped ahead of their rivals to secure a thrilling victory off The Hague.

    “This change is very exciting,” Caudrelier said after receiving a briefing on the changes. “The Open 60s are just amazing boats. I really enjoy sailing on these boats and I think when people see it, they will enjoy it. If the two best offshore races in the world are going to join the same class, to me it’s good news.”

    “I think as a sailor, this is very exciting,” said Bouwe Bekking, a veteran of eight Volvo Ocean and Whitbread Round the World races. “For the younger generation of sailors, they’re all about foiling and surfing and going fast and you have to get the best sailors involved in the race. With the Open 60s, they’ve nailed it, because this is what the sailors want.”

    “Of course there are some hurdles to negotiate,” said Torben Grael, Olympic champion and a Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper as well as a Vice-President of World Sailing.

    “But if we manage to join the two worlds together then it will be positive as it opens the race to many new sailors to join and creates a much bigger calendar of events for the teams racing in Open 60s.”

    The partnership means the leading designers in offshore sailing will be engaged in the next edition of the race with the goal of producing the fastest fully-crewed offshore round the world racing monohull in history.

    “Yachting is a sport that isn’t only about the crew, but it’s also about the equipment, so combining the two elements is what allows you to say you are at the pinnacle of offshore racing,” said Juan Kouyoumdjian, who has designed three Volvo Ocean Race winning boats in the past.

    “I think it is a very positive step forward. The future will allow for the sailors and designers to push to the next level which will inevitably trickle down to other classes.”

    “We’re trying to make a boat for the future that is capable of doing both short-handed and fully-crewed races,” said Guillaume Verdier, among of the busiest of the current IMOCA class and America’s Cup designers. “My opinion is that it is doable with a bit of compromise from both worlds to meet in the middle.”

    The partnership with IMOCA will also ensure that the boats will allow for the production of cutting-edge media, as was the case on the current edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

    Live access to the boats while they were racing in some of the most remote oceans of the world, as well as drone footage and media produced by on-board reporters made for ground-breaking coverage that produced record fan engagement.

    This remains an important priority for the next race.

    As does crew diversity. The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race featured 23 female sailors as well as 30 sailors under the age of 30. Both were records for the race. This is a trend to be encouraged for the future.

    “The process is just starting,” said Nick Bice, who is leading the project to develop the Open 60 rule for the next race. “We’ve had four of the current IMOCA designers with us to help us understand the issues we’re going to face.

    “We’ll forward everyone’s input to the joint committee and get started on developing the rules that will be used for Open 60s to participate in the next race. Our goal is to have this ready to go by the end of the year.”

    The future of the VO65 class of boats, used in the last two editions of the race, will be revealed in the coming weeks.
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