Race to Abu Dhabi still too close to make a call

Team Brunel are poised to win Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race and join Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing atop of the overall leaderboard, but the sprint into Abu Dhabi still looks too close to call.
Helmsman Louis Balcaen keeps an eye out aboard Team Brunel. Courtesy Volvo Ocean Race
Helmsman Louis Balcaen keeps an eye out aboard Team Brunel. Courtesy Volvo Ocean Race

Team Brunel are poised to win Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race and join Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing atop of the overall leaderboard, but the sprint into Abu Dhabi still looks too close to call.

Bouwe Bekking’s Dutch boat was leading China’s Dongfeng Race Team by only 11 nautical miles late on Tuesday, with Ian Walker’s Azzam boat 30 miles farther behind.

The trio had a huge lead of nearly 280 miles over the fourth-place boat, Team Alvimedica, with Mapfre and Team SCA also effectively out of the running for a podium spot.

The top three had around 700 miles left to sail and are expected to reach the port in the UAE capital on Saturday.

The Dutch team’s lead is a testament to the sailing knowledge on board, led by the 51-year-old Bekking, who is taking part in a record-equalling seventh race, and his navigator Andrew Cape, 52, who is in his sixth Volvo race.

The duo have something in common: they have never won the world’s leading offshore event. If the current positions hold, victory for Team Brunel in Abu Dhabi would bring them level with Walker’s crew on four points and one win apiece. Dongfeng would also join Brunel and Azzam on four points.

However, the Dutch and UAE boats would be ranked above them because each would have had a leg victory.

“How many legs have I won in the Volvo Ocean Race? I would say about eight? I’m not sure,” Bekking said yesterday. “I’d have to count again. But not enough – and it’s high time we added another one to the list.”

Walker has not given up hope of snatching another top spot on the podium.

“It may not seem it right now, but 30 miles can disappear quite quickly,” he said.

“There’s still 450 nautical miles to go, upwind in light air, so anything can happen.”

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Published: December 9, 2014 04:00 AM

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