Displaying items by tag: The Hague
The Turkish/American team, skippered by Charlie Enright (USA), still have 480 nautical miles of the final leg of the nine-month offshore marathon to negotiate to Gothenburg, Sweden, having sailed two days, eight hours and 34 minutes since leaving Lorient in France on Tuesday.
That gave them a 26nm advantage over the second-placed boat Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA), which finished at the Dutch port more than 1hr 45mins behind.
“It always feels good going into the locker room at halftime ahead, but that’s all it really is," said Charlie Enright shortly after crossing the line. "It’s kind of like Cape Horn, no points but still a great accomplishment.”
Enright, 30, the youngest skipper by far in the race, also led his team to the Cape Horn landmark ahead of the fleet on Leg 5, but relinquished that lead and eventually finished third.
If Team Alvimedica can complete the job and win in Gothenburg, they would be the sixth of seven boats in the competition to have won a leg in this 12th edition.
They have already shown their top form, winning the SCA In-Port Race Lorient at the weekend, for their second success of the in-port series.
“It sounds like there’s a fight [behind us]. It’s nice to be watching it and over the line,” he added.
Enright talked through the ‘decision of the leg’ – whether to hug the English coastline or stick, as he did, to the French and Dutch shorelines to the south of the English Channel.
Initially on Thursday it looked as if north would pay, as Dongfeng Race Team, MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) seemed to be making gains in stronger winds midway through the day.
But Team Alvimedica stuck to their guns and eventually the tides and breezes turned to their advantage for an entrance into The Hague and across the finish line, chased by dozens of spectator boats.
They will head out of The Hague at 12 noon local time on Saturday 20 June with their 1hr 46min 29sec advantage over Dongfeng Race Team, and the rest of the fleet also taking their advantages and deficits over their rivals, in a staggered start.
The seven boats are due to finish the leg in Gothenburg on the afternoon of Monday 22 June, according to the latest estimates.
If Team Alvimedica were to be first into port there too, they would need Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) to improve on their current sixth and seventh places and sandwich themselves between Enright’s crew, Dongfeng Race Team and MAPFRE, to take an overall podium place.
Team Brunel were hoping to do better than fourth place sailing into their home port, but as Bekking said before the leg started, only the finishing positions in Gothenburg really matter.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) sailed serenely on to claim fifth place in The Hague, having avoided any major problems on the first half of Leg 9.
They have an unassailable eight-point advantage over Team Brunel at the top of the overall standings.
If the current positions stay as they are, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing would have 24 points, Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team 31 apiece, MAPFRE and Team Alvimedica 34 each, Team SCA 51 and Team Vestas Wind 60.
That would leave the Inmarsat In-Port Race Gothenburg on Saturday 27 June to split the ties between second and third and fourth and fifth: the perfect finale to one of the most closely contested races in 41 years of event history.
#VOR - The Volvo Ocean Race fleet set off for Gothenburg from Lorient in perfect sailing conditions today (Tuesday 16 June) with Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) leading the chase to reach the pit stop in The Hague.
There was drama from the very first seconds with Leg 8 winners Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) and Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) both finding themselves on the wrong side of the line at the start and were forced back to cross for a second time.
Bouwe Bekking, in contrast, stormed away to the perfect start and was still narrowly ahead as he led the fleet out of a packed Lorient with all six boats in hot pursuit after five laps around the port.
Team Brunel, like three other boats, has a podium position to sail for in this final 960-nautical-mile leg to Sweden after more than eight months at sea, despite Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) already having the overall title virtually sewn up with an unassailable eight-point lead.
The Dutch boat is currently in second place on 27 points after eight legs, two clear of Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier), and four ahead of MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP).
All have the chance of finishing in second if the last leg results go their way, and even fifth-placed Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) on 33 points could sneak in to grab the runners-up spot if they end up as leg winners and their rivals finish down the field.
Both Team SCA and Team Vestas Wind, first and second from Lisbon into Lorient last week, will be determined to put a spoke in all their wheels and repeat the previous stage’s somewhat surprising finish.
As Ian Walker put it, meanwhile, his tactics on board Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are pretty simple on a stage which is full of exclusion zones, avoiding a busy shipping route skirted by rocks: “Don’t hit any rocks and avoid breaking any rules.”
Bekking would like nothing better than be first to reach The Hague in his home country, probably on Friday, a belated birthday present as he turns 52 years old tomorrow (17 June).
“We just have to beat them, it’s easy,” he said in an interview dockside before the action started at 5pm local time.
“We have no strategy as such but, of course, we’re going to keep an eye on the guys. It will be massive to go home [The Hague] but we know it’s just a stop and it’s all about the finish in Gothenburg.”
Another birthday boy, Iker Martínez onboard MAPFRE, who turns 38 today, said that the leg offers fairly unique challenges.
“There are lots of rocks involved, and our first priority is not to hit the rocks," he put it matter-of-factly.
“There’s going to be lot of current, but it’s difficult to know where the key of the leg is going to be. We could arrive in Scheveningen and then the whole thing starts again. The best thing is to be in front in any case.”
Charlie Enright of Team Alvimedica agreed, adding: “We are in a really complicated situation – but at least we know it’s complicated.”
The boats will be precisely timed as they pass the interim line in Scheveningen, near The Hague, on Friday 19 June. No points will be awarded for how they finish there.
From 12 noon local time onwards the following day, they will depart for Gothenburg with whatever advantage or deficit they took into the pit stop on their rivals. They are expected to arrive in Gothenburg on Monday 22 June 22 or possibly the following day.
The nine-month, 38,739-nautical-mile marathon event will finally come to a halt in the famous maritime Swedish city on Saturday 27 June with the Inmarsat In-Port Race Gothenburg.