CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 15 – Ian Walker (GBR) and his Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew became the confirmed kings of Cape Town on Saturday, clinching the in-port race less than a week after arriving here as Leg 1 winners.
The victory, by just over a minute, leaves them on top of the In-port Race Series too, and bursting with confidence for Leg 2 which starts on Wednesday (November 19).
Only in the sprint to the finish line from the final mark on the eight-mile course on Saturday, did Walker's men look under threat with Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) breathing down their necks.
The fleet was split from the start in challenging conditions in Table Bay, under the famous Table Mountain, with winds jumping dramatically between 12 and 20 knots and rain clouds threatening throughout.
Walker's team from the Emirates have already shown that they can make the right decisions under the toughest of pressure, by edging out Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) by just 12 minutes in a thrilling Leg 1 climax last week after 25 days of sailing from Alicante to Cape Town.
After some 20 minutes of racing on Saturday, they looked to have victory in the bag, especially after one of their rivals for the in-port series prize, Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), suffered a tear in their headsail.
The battle for second place soon grabbed the attention of most with Team SCA and Team Brunel in a thrilling showdown after the Dutch found a burst of pressure midway round.
Bekking had earlier told a press conference that the in-port series was not a big priority for him. But he and his crew were plainly giving it 100 percent as they scrambled with Team SCA for the second rung of the poldium.
A problem with a gennaker failing to unfurl cleanly finally scuppered the efforts of the women's crew to keep Bekking and co at bay and Team Brunel made one final effort to catch Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
Once again, Walker was ready for the challenge and by the finish line had a winning margin of a couple of hundred metres from Team Brunel with Team SCA in third.
Results Cape town In-Port Race:
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 15:06:57 -1pt
2. Team Brunel (NED) 15:08:00 – 2pts
3. Team SCA (SWE) 15:09:04 – 3pts
4. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) 15:09:22 – 4pts
5. Team Vestas Wind (DEN) 15:11:25 – 5pts
6. Team Alvimedica (USA/TUR) 15:16:14 – 6pts
7. MAPFRE (ESP) 15:18:32 – 7pts
– VOR Media