Team AkzoNobel secured a fifth place finish on Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Saturday night, the crew holding their nerve as the wind died and swirled near the finish line, with the two boats behind sailing fast and less than 4 miles away.
It’s not often that a fifth place finish feels like a victory, but given how close the battle was with SHK/Scallywag and Turn the Tide on Plastic, this is a result skipper Simeon Tienpont and his crew will happily take.
“We had to fight all the way,” Tienpont said. “Of course it’s disappointing we couldn’t get hold of the breeze but everyone stayed positive. There was no negativity, and we had a great sailing race all the way to the end. I’m very happy to be fifth in such tight racing.”
Behind team AkzoNobel, the race to not finish in last place was even more intense.
On the approach to Cape Town, skipper David Witt’s Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag led Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic by two miles. But after sailing into the swirling, shifting winds below Table Mountain, that narrow advantage was whittled away.
By the finish, Caffari had closed to within 0.1 nautical miles – less than 200 metres – at the end of a 7,000 nautical mile leg. But her team just couldn’t find a way to make the pass.
“We’ve had Scallywag in our sights since the equator crossing and that result is not what we deserved. We deserved more, I’m gutted for them,” Caffair said.
“We lost two miles today to them and then we got it back to a couple of boat lengths. Fair play to our guys to make it happen and that’s why I wanted the result to go the other way.”
Witt and his crew would withstand the assault and after sailing within sight of Turn the Tide on Plastic for most of the Leg, could finally exhale, crossing the finish line just over one-minute ahead.
“Everyone was good. No one gives up,” Witt said, paying tribute to his crew. “We’re solid. We have good character. We have to stick together, keep fighting and get better.”
With all seven teams now finished, the winner of Leg 2, MAPFRE, is also on top of the overall leaderboard, by just a one-point margin over Vestas 11th Hour Racing. Dongfeng Race Team is a further two points adrift.
The crews will take some well-deserved rest now, before the In-Port Race on 8 December. Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Cape Town to Melbourne, starts on 10 December.
Leg 2 – Provisional Results – as at Saturday 25 November (Leg 2, Day 21) at 00:18 UTC
1. MAPFRE — FINISHED — 15:10.33 UTC – 19 days, 01h:10m:33s
2. Dongfeng Race Team — FINISHED — 18:02.39 UTC – 19 days, 04h:02m:39s
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing — FINISHED — 19:37.53 UTC – 19 days, 05h:37m:53s
4. Team Brunel — FINISHED — 00:14.47 UTC – 19 days, 10h:14m:47s
5. team AkzoNobel — FINISHED — 21:24.40 UTC – 20 days, 07h:24m:40s
6. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag — FINISHED — 21:55.21 UTC – 20 days, 07h:55m:21s
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic — FINISHED — 21:56.29 UTC – 20 days, 07h:56m:29s
Volvo Ocean Race – Current Leaderboard
1. MAPFRE — FINISHED — 14 points (after Leg 2)
2. Vestas 11th Hour Racing — FINISHED — 13 points (after Leg 2)
3. Dongfeng Race Team — FINISHED — 11 points (after Leg 2)
4. team AkzoNobel — FINISHED — 7 points (after Leg 2)
5. Team Brunel — FINISHED — 6 points (after Leg 2)
6. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag –FINISHED — 5 points (after Leg 2)
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic –FINISHED — 2 points (after Leg 2)