ITAJAÍ, Brazil, April 18 - Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) won an excruciatingly drawn-out Team Vestas Wind In-Port RaceItajaí in the Volvo Ocean Race on Saturday when a lack of breeze tested the sailors' patience and seamanship to the full. The very hard-earned victory takes the Dutch boat to the top of the in-port race series overall standings on 15 points, one point clear of second-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR).
© Laura Lopes / Dongfeng Race Team
For so long this morning it was not clear if the packed docks of fans in Itajaí would even see an in-port race, with wind pressures barely passing three knots. Race management postponed the start for 10 minutes before the boats were finally able to cross the start line.
MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) were happy simply to be on the racecourse, after their shore team and the race’s Boatyard crew were forced to work all night to reinforce a section of their mast, ensuring the rig was robust enough.
Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) were the first to show in the shortened, two-lap, four-leg contest as they chased their third win in the in-port series, and second in a row after their success in Auckland. They narrowly reached the first gate ahead of overall race and in-port series leaders, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, with the all-female crew and Emirati crew opting for different sides of the course.
The pair completed lap two virtually neck-and-neck all the way as they desperately sought the little wind pressure Itajaí was offering on an overcast, but bright early afternoon.
Slowly but surely, however, the crew of Azzam began to eke out an advantage over the women, but then the wind dropped completely and the entire fleet slowed to a virtual standstill.
Team SCA were rocked by a 360-degree penalty turn for fouling, who suddenly moved from towards the back of the fleet into second place.
The Dutch, though, then took their turn to feel total frustration as the wind deserted them and instead, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) claimed the pace.
With the finish at last in sight, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team found themselves virtually in a dead heat for the lead, but still struggling desperately to find pressure.
Finally, Bouwe Bekking's men shook off what they must have felt was concrete from their hull to win their first in-port race of the series.
Azzam then eased past Dongfeng for second with Team SCA pipping MAPFRE for fourth and Team Alvimedica had to settle for sixth.
Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Itajaí results: 1.Team Brunel 15:31:47 (local finish time) – 1pt
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 15:33:10 – 2pts
3. Dongfeng Race Team 15:33:21 – 3pts
4. Team SCA 15:33:43 – 4pts
5. MAPFRE 15:34:10 – 5pts
6. Team Alvimedica 15:35:58 – 6pts
Team Vestas Wind – DNS 8pts