THE HAGUE, DEN (#1049) – 20 hours ago Dongfeng Race Team (CHN) were 50nm back of leaders MAPFRE (ESP) and Team Brunel (NED) – the other two yachts in contention to win the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. None of the other four yachts mattered; it was who-beat-who of those three that would determine the overall winner after the 45,000nm lap around the planet. On the third day of this final four-day Leg 11 from Gothenburg to The Hague, Dongfeng chose to take the much longer shore route on the eastern side of a traffic separation zone (through which the yachts were prohibited from sailing), but it paid off with more wind and a better reaching angle into the final turning mark and finish line.
Dongfeng won Leg 11 by a comfortable 3.6nm over eventual second place AkzoNobel (NED), who was in the western, offshore group and managed to pip MAPFRE (ESP) in the final 40 miles while the Spanish team was match-racing Brunel.
For the final four hours, MAPFRE and Brunel were coming in from the west in a downwind gybe fest, with MAPFRE squeaking past Brunel and then covering them gybe for gybe theoretically, at least according to the live race tracker, well ahead of the hard charging Dongfeng. But anyone watching the tracker could see that Dongfeng was closing fast and would likely cross ahead of the westerly pack for the race win. They did just that in dramatic fashion, sadly with no live coverage from VOR media until the final few miles after Dongfeng had grabbed the lead and the race was all but over.
Many VOR fans, including your Ed., have been cheering for Bouwe Bekking and his Team Brunel (NED). This was his eighth VOR without a win – 30 years of trying. Mr Bekking has finished 2nd overall three times, and now 3rd three times.
Also, sadly, no triple crown for either Pete Burling (NZL) on Brunel or Blair Tuke (NZL) on MAPFRE. They won Olympic gold at Rio in 2016 sailing the 49er for NZL, and the 2017 America's Cup with Emirates Team New Zealand. So it remains that no sailor has won what your Ed. (and now many others) likes to call the Triple Crown of Sailing – winning an Olympic Gold, the AC and VOR. John Kostecki (USA) has come closest with an an Olympic silver medal (1988), a VOR win (2001-02), and the AC win (2010).
Congrats, too, to Carolijn Brouwer (NED) aboard Dongfeng, the first woman to win the VOR. Nice that she did so in front of the big shoreside crowd at the final finish line in her home country.
Dongfeng approaches the finish line set just off the harbor, and beach, at The Hague, NED.
The dramatic, and as it turned out, easy cross by Dongfeng ahead of the western group that would win them the race, and overall, as seen on the 3D race tracker.
A screenshot from the VOR livestream via the TV helicopter after it was clear Dongfeng was easily crossing ahead of MAPFRE and the other yachts in the pack coming in from the west, and would win Leg 11 and overall.