Volvo Ocean Race. The Pace Hots Up & A Record Too

Aboard MAPFRE Sophie Ciszek is at the stern holding the main sheet, with Pablo Arrarte backwards to the splashing water.
Photo by Ugo Fonolla/Volvo Ocean Race

“Cold, wet, and no escape…” is an apt description of conditions in the South Atlantic as the competition heats up, even as temperatures plummet…

MAPFRE continue to lead the fleet, but their lead has been whittled down to just 26 miles as the chasing pack close in.

“We’ve managed to get ourselves into the lead, but it’s a pretty tight battle with Vestas 11th Hour Racing, Dongfeng Race Team and Brunel Racing,” said Blair Tuke from on board the leading boat, where Xabi Fernandez’s Spanish crew found themselves under attack from a resurgent Dongfeng Race Team, who, after losing the lead and bleeding miles to MAPFRE late last week, have found an extra gear on the approach to Cape Town.

It’s Jacuzzi time for Horace while grinding aboard Dongfeng.
Photo by Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race

Charles Caudrelier and his crew on Dongfeng have been demonstrating their determination to achieve the best possible result in Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race with a display of spectacular heavy weather sailing.

Caudrelier and his crew have put their foot down in heavy weather as they have rampaged across the southern Atlantic Ocean towards Cape Town and yesterday set a new 24-hour mileage record for this leg of 519 nautical miles at an impressive average speed of 21.6 knots.

With just over 1,300 miles still to sail, and a host of tactical opportunities on the horizon, this leg is anything but decided.

Team Brunel emerged from stealth mode as the most northerly boat in the leading group of four.

A soggy Annie Lush on Team Brunel.
Photo by Rich Edwards/Volvo Ocean Race

Boat captain Abby Ehler revealed yesterday that Brunel navigator Andrew Cape favoured a southerly route before the team disappeared from the rankings, but shortly after 2200 UTC they switched tactics and began positioning themselves above their rivals.

However their hopes of getting the better of their rivals while in stealth mode were dashed – the move saw them slip from second to fourth in the rankings.

“This part of the leg feels like when you’re stuck a chairlift in the rain and you can’t get off – cold, wet and no escape! Lucky I love sailing,” Brunel trimmer Kyle Langford tweeted.

Carolijn Brouwer, was asked what had happened when Dongfeng lost places. “That’s what yacht racing is about,” she replied.

“Sometimes everybody makes mistakes and the winner is actually not the person who sailed the perfect race. The winner over the line is the person or the crew that makes the least mistakes. What we’re doing right now is heading east towards Cape Town under very nice conditions and the crew is just focussed on sailing the boat as fast as they can to just try and get every mile back to our opponents.

“Everyone has their heads held high and is fighting really hard for every metre basically because there is still a long way to go to Cape Town and a lot could still happen, so we can still bounce back,” she added.

Brouwer explained that Dongfeng’s routing took her too close to the edge of the St Helena high pressure where light winds slowed the boat Chinese boat in comparison to rivals who were further west. “We got stuck in a little bit of a hole, swallowed up by the high pressure that we got too close to unfortunately,” she said.

The Dutch star said she is missing her son Kyle and the comforts of a soft and warm bed. “I’m looking forward to some clean clothes, some deodorant and to be able to put my head down on a really nice fluffy pillow with clean sheets,” she said.

On board Vestas 11th Hour Tony Mutter is driving at full speed.
Photo by Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race

Meanwhile Turn the Tide on Plastic’s navigator Nico Lunven said he was itching to finish Leg 2 as quickly as possible for two reasons: “Firstly, because I am competitive and I want to beat Scallywag, and secondly because I want to get home to meet my new daughter who was born during the leg. At the moment I’ve only seen a picture of her on email.”