Skipper Charles Caudrelier led his team to victory in the final leg of the race, a 970-mile sprint from Gothenburg, Sweden to The Hague in the Netherlands this afternoon, Sunday 24 June.
Incredibly, it marked the first leg win for the team — and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Three teams started Leg 11 of the race on Thursday 21 June in a dead heat on the overall leaderboard.
The finishing order between MAPFRE, Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team at The Hague would determine their place on the overall race podium.
Each of those three teams led at various points on the leg and had their opportunities to grab the prize.
But it was Caudrelier and his team made a bold call on Saturday evening to take a coastal route to the finish, pinned against the shoreline by a series of exclusion zones. It hurt them in the short term as they tumbled down the leaderboard.
But by this morning, with less than 100 miles left to race, weather routing projections had the top teams finishing within minutes of each other. None had been able to break away, despite the significant splits on the race course.
At 16:22:32 Irish time it was Dongfeng Race Team flying in down the coast from the north to win the leg, and the race.
It was the closest finish in the 45-year history of the race and the first win for a Chinese-flagged team.
MAPFRE, projected to finish number two on the overall leaderboard, finished third (16:39:25 Irish time) within seconds of fellow Dutch-flagged Team AkzoNobel (16:38:31), while Team Brunel (16:45:52)) missed a place on the final race podium by a matter of minutes.
Nine minutes later, Annalise Murphy and her crewmates on Turn the Tide on Plastic (16:56:56) had cause for celebration after holding off Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (17:01:32) for fifth place, meaning an overall leaderboard tiebreaker at next Saturday’s In-Port Race is on the cards.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing rounded out the arrivals at 17:05:36 Irish time, meaning the entire fleet finishing within 45 minutes.