Leg 2 result in Volvo Ocean race too close to call

Team Brunel, Dongfeng Race Team and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam are all in position to win second leg. Osman Samiuddin reports.
Azzam has been the leading boat in the ongoing edition's Volvo Ocean Race. Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Azzam has been the leading boat in the ongoing edition's Volvo Ocean Race. Mike Hutchings / Reuters

The home stretch has begun. By most projections, sometime on Saturday or Sunday, the front-runners in the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race will arrive in Abu Dhabi.

By late on Thursday night, the three leaders – Team Brunel, Dongfeng Race Team and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam – were sailing along the coastline of Oman. As has been the case for much of the second half of this leg, little separated them: the gap between the boats in first and third place was 7.3 nautical miles.

On Thursday night, the three ships were just over 300 nautical miles from the finish, which is situated near the Marina Mall.

What you can expect to see at Volvo Ocean Race village this weekend – video

The Leg 2 lead has changed hands so often, with the top boats remaining within sight of each other for much of the race, that predicting a winner remains an inadvisable task. It also means, having won the first leg, that Azzam retain a realistic shot of a homecoming triumph.

The trio of leaders are, however, in a tricky area of the route. On Thursday morning, the three were coping with just 3 knots of breeze. Leg leaders Team Brunel, in fact, had the slowest speed at the time.

That has pushed all three boats to routes as close to the shore as possible. Azzam have ventured as close as seven nautical miles to the Omani coast.

“On the charts, the Gulf of Oman doesn’t show the emotional rollercoaster Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing has been on for the past 24 hours,” the on-board reporter Matt Knighton wrote on his blog, as the crew sighted Muscat and the mountains of Oman.

“From consistent monsoon winds to light breezes, from gaining nearly a dozen miles on the leaders to watching them sail away in the next position report, so far when things seem to be improving, they’ve quickly changed. And we’re expecting more of the same today.

“In the light winds, our whole sail inventory is on the bow and no one is allowed in the back of the boat except the driver. However, [skipper Ian] Walker is still pacing above deck and below deck.

“He may even be sleepwalking by this point. Every mile seems to either lift or drain his face as the conditions change.”

The three remaining boats are well back. Alvimedica and Mapfre were, yesterday afternoon, over 150 nautical miles behind, while the all-female crew of SCA approximately 300 nautical miles behind the leader.

Though competitors are only two legs into a nine-leg race, a trend seems to be setting in. The three at the front of this leg finished on the podium in the first leg as well.

Alvimedica’s fourth-place status requires an asterisk. They detoured and waited offshore to assist Vestas Wind for nearly nine hours after the Danish boat ran aground, wrecking the vessel and likely ending the team’s participation in the event, which ends next summer.

Alvimedica’s final finish is expected to be adjusted because of the time lost while serving on evacuation standby with the marooned crew.

In the capital, the Race Village officially opens today on the Corniche Breakwater. The purpose-built waterfront village is 35,000 square meters in size, or 30 per cent bigger than the village for the 2011/12 stopover.

Over the next three weeks, until Leg 3 begins on January 3, it will play host to a number of performances and events, by over 200 artists from 23 countries.

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

Follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 11, 2014 04:00 AM

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