ALICANTE, Spain, Nov 6 – Team Vestas Wind secured fourth place on Thursday following Team Brunel’s evening arrival but it was the duel at the back of the Volvo Ocean Race Leg 1 fleet which was also keeping fans on the edge of their seats.
The Danish team (Chris Nicholson/AUS) was quietly satisfied with their finish at 1248 UTC after announcing their entry with just six weeks to go before the race start at the beginning of October.
© Charlie Shoemaker/Volvo Ocean Race
"We knew the first leg for us was just trying to get a reasonable finish and I think to be honest this is above expectations. We wanted better, you’ve got to set your sights high, but it’s given us more confidence for future legs and the rest of the race. We’re in a lot better shape now than we were in Alicante," he said.
After the fireworks of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing pipping Dongfeng Race Team to victory on Wednesday by just 12 minutes, Team Brunel’s (Bouwe Bekking/NED) entry into port could have seemed something of an anti-climax.
Yet Bekking, one of the most demanding sailors in the fleet, was understandably ‘content’ with his opening podium finish in a record-equalling seventh appearance in the event.
“We are content,” smiled the big Dutchman, 51. “Happy is another word – you’re always happy when you win – but third place is a good result for Team Brunel.”
He has a game plan of finishing on the podium, at least, for each leg and if he manages that he certainly won’t be far away from his first Volvo Ocean Race overall victory.
There’s still all to play for the three crews at the rear of the fleet as they approach the final stretch of the 6,487 nautical mile (nm) opening leg.
Fifth spot looks securely in Team Alvimedica’s grasp (Charlie Enright/USA) despite a maddening spell in a windless patch during which they moved barely a mile. They are expected to arrive shortly, late on Thursday or early Friday.
“It’s not easy going 0.00 knots,” wrote Amory Ross (USA), Team Alvimedica’s onboard reporter, during their stint of no-go. “It’s also not easy to go 0.00 knots at the moment. Not even an albatross could fly right now. But we’re doing it and we’re only 250 miles away from the finish of the leg.”
The women of Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), for so long the back-markers of the fleet after weather pattern after weather pattern went against them, were gunning to overtake Spanish rivals MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) in the final 300nm.
Martínez is gambling on a northward course while Davies is going further south.
“We’re trying to be as relentless as possible, it’s all about going fast now. We seem to be slightly faster than MAPFRE on every position report so that’s good motivation and we’re trying to keep it that way,” said Team SCA watch captain Liz Wardley (AUS).
At 1240 UTC on Thursday, there were just four miles between the two boats.