Image © Thierry Martinez/team AkzoNobel
With just two legs of the Volvo Ocean Race remaining – Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales to Gothenburg, Sweden and Leg 11 to The Hague – fourth-placed team AkzoNobel is preparing to make an assault on the overall podium.
The team will set off on Leg 10 from Cardiff on Sunday afternoon nine points adrift of third-placed Team Brunel (NED), with a further two-point deficit to Mapfre (ESP) in second and another one point behind overall leader Dongfeng Race Team (CHN).
Mathematically at least a top three overall result is still possible.
Nevertheless, the team AkzoNobel sailors know that, no matter how well they perform, one or more of the teams ahead of them will have to turn in particularly poor results to make room on the winners’ podium in The Hague.
Leg 10 – the penultimate stage of the round the world race – starts from Cardiff on Sunday afternoon.
The leg’s circuitous 1,300-nautical mile (2,400-kilometer) route takes the seven-boat Volvo Ocean Race fleet along the south and west coasts of Ireland and around the Scottish Orkney Islands, before crossing the North Sea and passing the northern tip of Denmark on the way into Gothenburg.
The passage to Gothenburg is forecast to take no more than five days to complete with the leading boats expected to finish late afternoon or early evening on Friday June 15.
Team AkzoNobel’s Danish boat captain Nicolai Sehested said the team relished the opportunity – no matter how remote – to upset the current order at the top of the leaderboard with strong results in the final two legs.
“There are still 2,000 miles of racing to be waged before this is over,” said a determined looking Sehested.
“Leg 10 from Cardiff to Gothenburg is far from straightforward and has plenty of challenges – meaning there will be plenty of chances for teams to make big gains and losses.
“The top three teams are so close on points they will be watching each other like hawks. For us though the task is very straightforward – we will be going all out to be first into Gothenburg to claw back as many points as possible before the final leg to the Netherlands.”
Sehested and his team AkzoNobel cohorts have proved themselves capable on several occasions of competing on equal terms with the best of the seven professional teams taking part in the eight-month ocean racing marathon.
Since starting the 45,000-nm (83,000-km) around the world race last October in Alicante, Spain the team has finished in the top three four times – including a spectacular leg win on the sixth stage from Hong Kong to Auckland.
Last month while battling for the lead in the Atlantic Ocean on Leg 9 from the United States to Wales the team AkzoNobel crew set a new world record for the longest distance sailed in 24 hours in the Volvo Ocean Race’s 45-year history.
“The record is a fantastic achievement that we are all very proud of, but we have set our sights on trying to close out this race strongly with two solid results in Gothenburg and The Hague,” said team AkzoNobel’s Australian helmsman and sail trimmer Luke Molloy.
“There will be plenty of opportunities on Leg 10 for teams to make mistakes and with it being just a five-day leg there won’t be many chances to recover. That means everything is possible and we have proved ourselves capable of mixing it on equal terms with the best crews in the race.
“While other teams might be winding down to the finish we are revving things up for these last two sprint legs and we are gunning for a great performance on Leg 10.”
Leg 10 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 starts from Cardiff, Wales at 1600 BST (1500 UTC/1700 CEST) on Sunday June 10.
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)
Overall standings (after nine of 11 legs):
1. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) – 60 points
2. Mapfre (ESP) – 59 points
3. Team Brunel (NED) – 57 points
4. team AkzoNobel (NED) – 48 points
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA) – 36 points
6. Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG) – 29 points
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (UN) – 26 points