Team AkzoNobel has finished in fourth place in the Volvo Ocean Race in port race in Cardiff, Wales.
It was a disappointing result for the crew who headed the fleet for two and a half of the one-hour three-lap short-course sprint, after snatching the lead with an audacious port tack approach to the first windward turning gate.
Steered by inshore helmsman Nicolai Sehested, team AkzoNobel’s multi-colored VO65 yacht powered off the port end of the start line on Cardiff Bay to lead the fleet up the first windward leg of the six-leg course.
Sehested timed his port tack approach to the windward gate to perfection, tacking just far enough ahead of second-placed Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) to round clear and lead the seven-boat fleet downwind.
The team AkzoNobel sailors extended their lead to around 60 meters at the first leeward turning gate, but the crew lost ground on the next upwind leg to round the second windward gate with the Dongfeng boat’s red bow right on their stern.
It was neck and neck between the leading pair for the next two legs before Dongfeng finally overtook when the boats converged on the port layline approach to the penultimate windward turning gate.
The Chinese crew’s subsequent lee bow tack threw so much disturbed air on to team AkzoNobel sails, that it slowed the boat enough for third placed Mapfre (ESP) to close rapidly to within overtaking range.
At the left hand turning buoy the Spanish crew managed to slip around ahead of the frustrated team AkzoNobel sailors to steal second place with just one downwind leg to go to the finish.
Things went from bad to worse for team AkzoNobel on this final leg when a slow spinnaker hoist allowed Dutch rival Team Brunel to make huge gains and overtake team AkzoNobel to snatch third place halfway along to the finish.
Team AkzoNobel tactician Chris Nicholson (AUS) said the team's poor finishing position came as a result of "a series of small errors" that took place while the team was ahead.
"The climax of when it all went bad was when they tacked underneath us on the last beat and nailed us," Nicholson said. "But if you wind the clock back, we had been making small mistakes that cost us a lot of distance.
"It was a bad day for us and we will refocus, no problem – but you still don't like to have bad days."
Today's result sees team AkzoNobel in fourth overall in the in port race series, two points behind Team Brunel in third, with Mapfre second and Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) in first.
Leg 10 of the Volvo Ocean Race to Gothenburg, Sweden starts from Cardiff on Sunday afternoon.