Image © Thierry Martinez/team AkzoNobel
Some gutsy heavy weather sailing and a never-say-die attitude has delivered the sailors of team AkzoNobel their fifth podium result of the Volvo Ocean Race after fighting their way back into third place on Leg 10 from Wales to Sweden.
The team followed Leg 10 winner Team Brunel (NED) and second placed Mapfre (ESP) into Gothenburg late on Thursday June 15, four days, five hours, 32 minutes and 53 seconds after leaving Cardiff, Wales on Sunday June 10.
The result follows a second place for team AkzoNobel on Leg 9 and cements the team’s fourth place in the overall standings with just final leg of the eight-month around the world race – from Gothenburg to The Hague in the Netherlands – left to go.
“It was a good leg – very interesting with lots of action and plenty of corners and rocks to avoid,” said team AkzoNobel navigator Jules Salter (GBR). “There were lots of decisions to be made and we are reasonably happy with most of our choices. We just lacked a bit of speed at times and that’s what cost us in the end.
“But still, to come third in this fleet is a good result – another podium – and it sets us up nicely for the final leg of this race into The Hague in a week’s time.”
Team AkzoNobel was among the frontrunners in the seven-boat fleet for most of the four-day sprint stage which saw a wide range of conditions on the course which took the fleet over the Irish Sea, around Ireland and Scotland and finally across the North Sea to Gothenburg.
After a frustrating tumble down the rankings on Tuesday as the closely-packed fleet made a high-speed approach to the rugged islands of the Outer Hebrides to the west of the Scottish mainland, team AkzoNobel rounded the Orkney Islands – the most northern waypoint in the race – in fifth place on the evening of Wednesday June 13.
Rather than retreating to lick their wounds the team AkzoNobel sailors instead set about mounting a comeback challenge as the fleet set out on what promised to be a stormy North Sea crossing.
The gains came slowly but steadily and as the wind ramped up to 35-40 knots team AkzoNobel inexorably closed down the boats ahead – first passing fourth placed Turn the Tide on Plastic (UN) and then sliding by overall race leader Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) and into third place.
From there the team sailed a smart final day, minimising the risks while making sure they kept pushing hard to stay ahead the ever-chasing Dongfeng Race Team. The team crossed the Leg 10 finish line on the approach to Gothenburg at 21:02:53 UTC (23:02:53 CEST) to round out back to back podium results.
With just three days to go before the crew are back in action in the Gothenburg in port race on Sunday June 17 the sailors and shore crew will have their work cut out to get both bodies and boat back to 100 per cent in time.
“It’s been a tough leg with lots of maneuvers and sail changes, so we are all pretty tired tonight,” commented helmsman and sail trimmer Luke Molloy (AUS). “There wasn’t a lot of sleep because everyone was pushing all the way to end.”
Also uppermost on the sailors’ minds is the Volvo Ocean Race finale – a 700-nautical mile mini-sprint from Gothenburg to the Hague via a turning marker off the Danish city of Aarhus.
According to team AkzoNobel boat captain Nicolai Sehested (DEN), the crew will be going all out to finish their lap of the world with one more podium result. Sehested said he expects the competition to be fierce with no room left for mistakes on the expected three-day leg.
“This race is coming to an end and it has never been closer than it is now,” Sehested said. “Everyone is sailing their boats almost to perfection and if you make a small mistake or have a bit of bad luck then you are out of the leg.
“If we want a good result on this final leg we will have to grind it out like we just did on Leg 10.”
Watch post-race interviews with Jules Salter (GBR) and Luke Molloy (AUS):
Team AkzoNobel Leg 10 crew list:
Simeon Tienpont (NED) - skipper
Brad Farrand (NZL)
Justin Ferris (NZL)
Martine Grael (BRA)
Luke Molloy (AUS)
Emily Nagel (BER)
Chris Nicholson (AUS)
Jules Salter (GBR)
Nicolai Sehested (DEN)
Leg 10 results:
1. Team Brunel (NED) – 4 days, 5 hours, 12 minutes, 1 second
2. Mapfre (ESP) – 4 days, 5 hours, 13 minutes, 56 seconds
3. team AkzoNobel (NED) – 4 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes, 53 seconds
4. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) – 4 days, 5 hours, 45 minutes, 52 seconds
5. Turn the Tide on Plastic (UN) – 4 days, 6 hours, 2 minutes
6. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA) – 4 days, 6 hours, 26 minutes, 40 seconds
7. Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG) – 4 days, 8 hours, 25 minutes, 3 seconds
Overall standings (after 10 of 11 legs):
1. Mapfre (ESP) – 65 points
2. Team Brunel (NED) – 65 points
3. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) – 64 points
4. team AkzoNobel (NED) – 53 points
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA) – 38 points
6. Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG) – 30 points
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (UN) – 29 points