LORIENT, France, June 14 – Team Alvimedica claimed their second Volvo Ocean Race in-port race series victory in Lorient, France, on Sunday after leaving their rivals trailing following a delayed start due to lack of wind. The victory, which follows their triumph in the opening in-port race in Alicante eight months ago, bolsters the hopes of Charlie Enright’s crew to claim a much-coveted final podium finish in the series that concludes in Gothenburg, Sweden, on June 27.
The SCA In-Port Race Lorient victory will also lift their chances of a top-three finish in the overall standings. The series also acts as a tie-breaker for the tightly contested second and third places in the offshore competition that also finishes in Gothenburg the week after next.
A lack of breeze on the race track kept the fans in Lorient waiting some 30 minutes before the action started, but there was drama aplenty from the off. MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) were forced to duck behind the rest of the seven-strong fleet as a premature start loomed and they immediately conceded seemingly costly ground on their rivals in such a key race.
Team Alvimedica had no such problems and led the boats on the windier right hand side of the course, giving them a good advantage in the chase to the first gate.
Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) and Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS), first and second respectively in Leg 8 from Lisbon to Lorient, chose the lefthand side of the course and that stored up problems for them as they approached the first mark. Both were ordered to take penalty turns. The all-women’s crew for apparently failing to give MAPFRE enough space (water) as they tacked around the mark, and Team Vestas Wind for commiting a similar offence against Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED).
The fleet split right and left on the next leg, while Team Alvimedica cruised untroubled away at the head of the fleet, building their lead to around 300 metres.
By the fourth leg, the young Turkish/American-backed crew continued to stretch away with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing heading the chasing pack and quite happy to consolidate their position at the top of the overall in-port race standings if they could.
The result now was in no doubt in terms of who would win, but Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team were still separated by only metres as the fifth leg continued.
As the leg finished, Azzam and no less than three other boats converged on the mark with Team Brunel, MAPFRE and Dongfeng Race Team scrapping for second place with the Emirati boat.
Into the final leg, MAPFRE steamed through in the closing stages with a perfect angle and extra wind to snatch second from Walker’s crew and Dongfeng Race Team also bypassed the Emirati boat as the line approached, leaving them fourth. Team SCA then won a three-way showdown for fifth, just ahead of Team Brunel with Team Vestas Wind taking seventh.
The results leave the in-port standings perfectly poised for the final deciding race in Gothenburg on June 27.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, the overall event winners elect, are still top on 25 points, six clear of Team Brunel (31), with Team Alvimedica (32), Team SCA (33), MAPFRE (34) and Dongfeng Race Team (36) all with good chances of podium places.
Team Vestas Wind, who missed all the in-port races from Abu Dhabi to Newport, Rhode Island, because of their rebuild following a collision with a reef, are on 66 points.
Should Team Brunel win the final race in Gothenburg, they would lift the trophy at the expense of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing since they would have the most individual victories in the series.
Walker, who is already assured of the main offshore trophy as long as his crew do not pick up a batch of penalty points in the final leg from Lorient to Gothenburg, was satisfied with Sunday’s performance.
“It was a good result for us,” he told reporters. “We were just trying to cover Team Brunel and to get enough points to get the series won. We’ve not quite done that, but we’re in a pretty good position.”
Enright then summed up: “We had a really, really good start which made it pretty easy to execute our game plan. We need another good result in Gothenburg to close the deal.”