Abu Dhabi Racing won the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race over Dongfeng by just 12 minutes as the two boats compressed in light winds approaching Cape Town, South Africa. The strain was evident on the Abu Dhabi faces, as was the relief when they ultimately crossed the finish line. In the process of overcoming two serious breakdowns, including having to replace a broken rudder, Dongfeng won more than a few fans (including me!)
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If the world was fair, the Volvo Round the World Race will have get a lot more attention than the America’s Cup. Seven identical boats, pushed hard by some of the toughest men and women sailors, battling it out for weeks at sea in the most challenging conditions. Going into the last three or four days, three (four if you’re generous) had reasonable shots at winning.
And the Achilles heel of being thousands of miles at sea where nobody could see them has all but been overcome. Video comes live from the boats, along with interviews, all courtesy of the onboard reporters. This creates heroes. This leg’s heroes are on Dongfeng.
Earlier in the leg, the “Chinese” boat Dongfeng (skippered by Charles Caudrelier) had to replace their rudder, and much of it was caught on camera. And two days ago, the crew faced another challenge when their padeye for the A3 spinnaker broke, disabling the starboard steering wheel and taking various other components with it. Watch it:
You can spend a couple hours each day immersed in new material from the Volvo Race. There are the daily Inside Track Videos with Genny Tulloch and there are the polished Life at the Extreme weekly video features. And if you wondered about the technology, here’s Tulloch interviewing Kenny Read on the US East Coast and Ian Walker in the South Atlantic, for all of us to hear virtually anywhere in the world:
But for the armchair tacticians out there, Brookes and Gatehouse has brought on board navigator/writer Mark Chisnell to explain it all. These weekly reports and analysis are the perfect way to get the lowdown on what’s going on and what to look for in the coming days. Check it out.
So, the race site is good, the race tracker is getting better and the racing is excellent. It is offshore sailing as it should be, and we get to watch! For those of us who love offshore racing, this is the Super Bowl and it’s game on.
It looks as if the remaining finish order will be Brunel, Vestas, Alvimedica, Mapfre and SCA.