Final sprint to Abu Dhabi too close to call

Team Brunel are just ahead in the race to win Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race and join Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing at the top of the leaderboard – but the sprint into Abu Dhabi still looks too close to call for sure. 

Bouwe Bekking’s (NED) Dutch boat was leading Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) by a mere 12 nautical miles (nm) at 0940 UTC on Tuesday with Ian Walker’s Azzam boat just 27nm further behind. 

The trio have a huge lead of nearly 275nm over the fourth-placed boat, Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA), with MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP), and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), also seemingly out of the running for a podium spot. 

The top three have around 750nm left to sail to the arrival in the Emirates and are expected to reach the destination on Saturday, December 13. 

The Dutch team’s current lead is a testament to the immense sailing knowledge on board led by 51-year-old Bekking, who is taking part in a record-equalling seventh race, and his navigator Andrew Cape (AUS). 

Cape is a year older than his skipper and competing in his sixth race. 

They both have one thing in common: An overall Race victory in the world’s leading offshore event is missing from their resumés despite several close calls. 

Right now, however, Bekking is focusing firmly on one step at a time and would cherish a win in another closely contested leg following their third place behind winners Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the opening stage from Alicante to Cape Town. 

Victory for Team Brunel in Abu Dhabi would bring them level with Walker’s crew on four points and one win apiece. 

“How many legs have I won in the Volvo Ocean Race? I would say about eight? I’m not sure,” said Bekking on Tuesday. “I’d have to count again – but not enough – and it’s high time we added another one to the list.” 

Walker certainly has not given up hope of snatching another top spot on the podium. “It may not seem it right now, but 30 miles can disappear quite quickly. There’s still 450nm to go upwind in light air, so anything can happen,” he said. 

Dongfeng Race Team will join Team Brunel and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing on four points if they retain their current second place. 

– VOR Media

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