Image © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race
Team AkzoNobel has finished Volvo Ocean Race Leg 7 in third place after 18 days of arduous racing from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajaí in Brazil.
The crew finished the demanding 14,000-kilometer passage at 0438 UTC (0638 CEST) on Thursday April 5, completing the course in an elapsed time of 18 days, three hours, 38 minutes and 24 seconds.
After leaving Auckland Leg 7 took the Volvo Ocean Race fleet race through the icy and isolated depths of the Southern Ocean, past Point Nemo – the furthest point on earth from land – then around the notorious stormy headland Cape Horn at the very southern tip of Chile, before a final 3,700-kilometer stage north passing east of the Falkland Islands on the way to the finish in the warm waters of the Itajaí-Açu River.
Skipper Tienpont (NED) said the leg had been dramatic with the Southern Ocean more than living up to its fearsome reputation.
“The Southern Ocean was the Southern Ocean with nice beautiful big waves but rough and challenging at times,” Tienpont said.
“We had a pretty a fast trip and I think we followed our strategy to try to round Cape Horn in good shape and in good condition as a crew and to look after the boat. Even after the Horn things were challenging and I think we showed good seamanship and good racing spirit on board.
“All in all it was a good leg for us,” Tienpont concluded.
Leg 7 delivered by far the most punishing conditions of the race to date. The Southern Ocean was especially brutal with storm after storm bringing screaming winds and mountainous breaking waves, along with at times, snow, freezing rain and hail stones.
The leg was marred by the death of British competitor John Fisher who was lost overboard from the Hong Kong entry Sun Hung Kai Scallywag on Monday March 26. The shock news of Fisher’s death reverberated around the fleet prompting tributes to the experienced and well-liked sailor from the other six teams.
“For me this leg will never be remembered for a third place or the Southern Ocean but that we lost a good man in John Fisher,” commented team AkzoNobel watch captain Chris Nicholson (AUS).
“It means a lot to everyone who is associated with the race and he is on our minds all the time. Our thoughts are with his family and friends and everyone on Scallywag.”
Team AkzoNobel rounded Cape Horn in fourth place on Friday March 30 before moving into third place when Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA) was dismasted east of the Falkland Islands.
The team AkzoNobel crew set about closing the gap on to leg leader Team Brunel (NED) and second-placed Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) however hopes of challenging the top two were dashed when a water ingress issue resulting from damage to one of the keel plates underneath the boat meant the crew had to make a temporary mid-ocean stop to assess the problem.
The sailors effected running repairs but were unable to sail at 100 per cent in the stronger winds for the rest of the leg and in the end had to settle for a well-deserved third place.
The result – the team’s third consecutive podium finish ¬– leaves it in fourth place in the overall Volvo Ocean Race standings with four more legs remaining before the finish at The Hague in the Netherlands in June.
Video: Leg 7 in review – Re-live the team's third place-performance in Leg 7 told from the perspective of our Australian helmsman and sail trimmer Luke Molloy.