The top three teams in the Volvo Ocean Race are within three points after Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel won Leg 9 into Cardiff, Wales to vault into contention for the overall race win.
The Leg 9 results also mean a new team is at the top of the race leaderboard as Dongfeng Race Team, with a third place finish, take overall race honours by just a single point over MAPFRE, who settled for a disappointing fifth place finish on the transatlantic leg.
With the win, Bekking’s Brunel is just three points off the lead, meaning the final two European legs will be more important than ever. Although Brunel sits in third place this morning, the Dutch entry is riding a wave of momentum.
Since the team hit a low point at the conclusion of Leg 6 after arriving in Auckland with a sixth place finish, Bekking and crew have posted a 1-2-1 scoreline, including important wins on the final two double-point scoring legs, to move from also-ran status on the leaderboard to holding down a firm grip on a podium position with an eye on the top spot.
“We’re very happy with the result – to beat the two red boats (Dongfeng and MAPFRE) was the objective,” Bekking said after crossing the finish line. “Winning of course is nice, as well as to get the bonus point and then a nice fight to beat AkzoNobel in the end as well, so we’re a happy team“.
“But the aim is to keep looking forward. We’ve closed the gap to MAPFRE and Dongfeng and victory remains our main objective.”
To earn the leg win, Bekking had to fend off fellow Dutch skipper Simeon Tienpont’s team AkzoNobel, who had held a nominal lead of a few hundred metres just hours before the finish.
But in the strong currents and light winds of the Bristol Channel, Bekking and his crew found a way to claw back in front and then protected over the final miles to take the win by just 4 minutes and 05 seconds over team AkzoNobel.
For Tienpont’s AkzoNobel, Volvo Ocean Race Leg 9 will be long remembered for the amazing record-breaking effort the team made in setting a new standard for 24-hour distance run in the Volvo Ocean Race.
On Friday May 22, in ideal conditions, the team AkzoNobel crew obliterated the previous race record set in a Volvo Ocean 70 by Ericsson 4 in 2008. The new mark is a 602.51 nautical mile, 24-hour run.