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Volvo Ocean Race: Annalise Murphy’s Team Settles For Last As Lack Of Wind Makes For Tight Leg 1 Finish

29th October 2017
Turn The Tide on Plastic sails into port in Lisbon in last place among the seven-yacht fleet Turn The Tide on Plastic sails into port in Lisbon in last place among the seven-yacht fleet Photo: Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race

#VOR - Leg 1 winners Vestas 11th Hour Racing weren’t the only Volvo Ocean Race team to have an excruciating finish experience en route to Lisbon yesterday (Saturday 28 October).

When MAPFRE was within 1.5 miles of the line, they too ran out of wind and had to watch Dongfeng Race Team rush into the river behind them. With only a small lead as a buffer, the tension for Spanish fans was rising fast.

But as Vestas did before them, the MAPFRE crew found a little zephyr of wind to finish 15-minutes ahead of the Chinese team at 5.42pm Irish time.

“Very pleased with the result. It’s a solid start, exactly what we wanted. We’re very happy,” said MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernández immediately after finishing. “We have to say Vestas did very well early on and we didn’t see them again… But then we had a strong 12-hours after Gibraltar and we stepped it up there.”

Dongfeng Racing Team skipper Charles Caudrelier made an excellent recovery on Leg 1 after falling to the back of the fleet on the approach to Gibraltar.

And fight they did, slowly reeling in the fleet and finally recovering to pass Team AkzoNobel with only 220 miles to go, to complete the podium at 5.57pm Irish time.

“The first 24 hours was bad,” Caudrelier said. “After that we sailed very well with good speed and good decisions and finally we managed to pass AkzoNobel to finish in third so it was a good effort by the team.”

The drama didn’t end with the podium places decided. Just over an hour later, Team AzkoNobel were forced to fend off a late charge from Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, who attempted to make the pass by sailing slightly closer to the coast. It nearly worked, too.

But in the end, Simeon Tienpont and his team grabbed fourth (finish at 7:11pm Irish time), with SHK/Scallywag settling for fifth (7:57pm Irish time).

“I’m unbelievably proud of the guys and girls on board,” Tienpont said. “I couldn’t say it enough during the leg to them… We went out with a full ‘street fight’ mentality and my compliments to all the sailors. The team morale was high and we sailed our socks off!”

“I’ve never finished like that before,” said Scallywag skipper David Witt. “We tried to get AkzoNobel by coming down the shore. It was pretty close… then we got stuck on the bottom… we had to swim an anchor out to get us off the rocks so we could drift across the finish line!

“[But] we’re really happy. We were right in there for most of it... We’re on the up. We’re getting better. Look out in a couple of legs time.”

The race for the final two positions was as intense as any that came before. Although it was a battle for sixth and seventh place, both Team Brunel and Turn The Tide on Plastic pushed as hard as possible to earn the extra point.

As with the boats in front, it was a slow-motion dance to the finish line, with Brunel gliding across in the dark, guided by America’s Cup star Peter Burling, to secure sixth place (9:29pm Irish time).

“We’re a bit frustrated,” said Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking. “We weren’t very fast. We never reached out target speeds… but we’ve been fighting hard and it was actually an enjoyable leg … The boys and the girls sailed the boat nicely right to the end.”

That left seventh place for Dee Caffari’s Turn The Tide on Plastic, with Annalise Murphy among the crew, which crossed the line a few minutes later at 9.36pm Irish time.

“I’m gutted, we came last,” Caffari laughed at the dock after the finish, when it was suggested she'd be pleased with the result. “We just had the greatest two-boat testing with Team Brunel for 200 miles, so it was fantastic.”

Leg 1 – Results – Saturday 28 October (Day 7):

  1. Vestas 11th Hour Racing -- FINISHED -- 14:08.45 UTC
  2. MAPFRE -- FINISHED -- 16:42.30 UTC
  3. Dongfeng Race Team -- FINISHED -- 16:57:48 UTC
  4. Team AkzoNobel -- FINISHED -- 18:11:56 UTC
  5. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag -- FINISHED -- 18:57:44 UTC
  6. Team Brunel -- FINISHED -- 20:29:00 UTC
  7. Turn the Tide on Plastic – FINISHED – 20:36:52 UTC

Volvo Ocean Race – Standings following Leg 1:

  1. Vestas 11th Hour Racing -- FINISHED -- 8 points
  2. MAPFRE -- FINISHED -- 6 points
  3. Dongfeng Race Team -- FINISHED -- 5 points
  4. Team AkzoNobel -- FINISHED -- 4 points
  5. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag -- FINISHED -- 3 points
  6. Team Brunel – 2 points
  7. Turn the Tide on Plastic – 1 point
Published in Volvo Ocean Race
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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