SAINT-MALO, FRA – MAPFRE continued to dominate the Volvo Ocean Race qualifying and kept on track to win Leg Zero when it claimed victory today in a short opening stage of the final race out of Saint-Malo. Extended periods of light wind forced organizers to split the leg from Saint-Malo to Lisbon into two parts. The Volvo Ocean 65s stayed tightly bunched on the 25-nautical mile drag race toward Le Grand Lejon in just 10 knots of breeze.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing was neck-and-neck with MAPFRE for the lead, with the Spanish team just pipping them to the line.
Dongfeng Race Team grabbed third ahead of Turn the Tide on Plastic and team
AkzoNobel. Preliminary unofficial results gave Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag and Team Brunel the same time, with less than a mile between the first and last teams in the seven-boat fleet.
The second part of the final leg will begin from Chaussé de Sein at 0900 UTC on Monday. It will be a staggered start based on the finishing deltas from today.
The fleet will start with light south easterlies that will quickly die and then come back from the west. This will be a critical transition to manage as the whole race course will favor the leaders and punish the stragglers.
The fleet will negotiate the passage of a cold front early Tuesday morning and the new wind will set them up for a downwind drag race toward Cape Finisterre, the northwestern tip of Spain. Light winds will chase them as a ridge of high pressure again pushes into the normally tempestuous Bay of Biscay.
"Leg Zero has been really good for us," said MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernández (ESP) whose team has won two of the first three races. "Saint-Malo to Lisbon is the last stop so it's not quite over yet but I'm so happy with the team, the boat. ... Everything seems to be working out."
As for Monday, “You only enter races to win. But the forecast is fluky so everything’s on the table,” Vestas 11th Hour Racing skipper Charlie Enright (ESP) said. “Everyone’s expectation is to be competitive and to continue to refine the areas that we realize need work.”
Overall standings after three of four completed races in Leg Zero:
1. MAPFRE 23 points
2. Team Brunel 20
3. Dongfeng Race Team 19
4. team AkzoNobel 15
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing 12
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic 9
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 7
While an overall winner will be declared, no points will be carried forward to the Volvo Ocean Race itself, which starts Oct. 22 from Alicante, ESP.
MAPFRE and team AkzoNobel race in the first half of the final race of Leg Zero in the Volvo Ocean Race.