Image © Brian Carlin/Volvo Ocean Race
Sixth-placed team AkzoNobel is in attack mode this morning after significantly closing the gap on their nearest rival Mapfre (ESP) over the last 24 hours as the seven-boat fleet continues to hurtle toward Newport, Rhode Island on Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race.
At 0700 UTC (0900 CEST) this morning the pair were in a neck-and-neck battle, separated by just two nautical miles (3.7 kilometers) as the two crews urged their boats ever onwards at speeds around 20 knots (37 kilometers per hour).
Peak speeds aboard team AkzoNobel have been much higher – as on board reporter Brian Carlin (IRL) reported:
“This is fast sailing and the boat is making some serious time and distance in the right direction,” Carlin wrote in his daily update email from the boat.
“Boat speeds have been up to 29 knots [53 kph] today, and the six-hour runs are clocking up a whopping 120 - 130 nautical miles [222 – 240 kilometers], which must have us covering coming up 1,000 nm in 48 hours.”
Team AkzoNobel has a little over 1,500 nm (2,778 km) to race before Newport and the sailors remain grimly focused on taking at least one place before the finish line.
They have been sailing well in recent days – maximising their performance through constant sail trimming and pushing their boat and themselves incessantly hard in four-hour watch rotations around the clock.
Now as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet passes well to the east of the Caribbean island of Barbados the crew’s persistence and hard work appears to finally have been rewarded.
For the first time in a week the team has made significant gains on the boats ahead as the fleet compresses with the leaders the first to feel the slowing effects of a high pressure weather system in the North Atlantic.
“It’s tough for the guys as they are working damn hard and they know they need a little luck,” Carlin reports. “Everyone is just quietly chipping away each day, no mention of what could happen – just of what is happening, all hoping for an advance.”
Latest estimates suggest the fleet will complete Leg 8 from Itajaí, Brazil to Newport, RI in the United States on Tuesday May 8.