Close finish

MAPFRE win over Dongfeng and Vestas 11th Hour Racing in Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Photography by Volvo Ocean Race

28 November 2017


MAPFRE has won Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race, arriving into Cape Town ahead of Dongfeng Race Team and Vestas 11th Hour Racing.

MAPFRE, the Spanish-flagged team led by skipper Xabi Fernández has won Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race, a 7,000 nautical mile marathon from Lisbon, Portugal to Cape Town, South Africa.

“It’s amazing, we’re super-happy. We arrived here in one piece and in front of the others; we can’t ask for more,” skipper Xabi Fernández said moments after finishing.

MAPFRE trailed Dongfeng Race Team on the long charge to the south, but last weekend, 14 days into the leg and after crossing the Doldrums, navigator Juan Vila and skipper Xabi Fernández put in a quick gybe to the southwest that Dongfeng didn’t match. It turned out to be a winning move; within hours the Spanish team had a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

In contrast, after leading from the first night, Dongfeng suddenly found itself in fourth place two weeks into the leg. But skipper Charles Caudrelier led his team to an inspiring fight-back. Over the final days, Dongfeng clawed its way back into a well-deserved second place.


“A good second place,” said Caudrelier. “For sure at one moment we were hoping for better, but a few days ago it was much worse and we made a fantastic comeback.

“Well done to MAPFRE, they did less mistakes than us, but we never gave up, the crew never complained, they just worked on the comeback. We have amazing speed in strong winds, we’ve worked on that a lot, and it was unbelievable, we were nearly a knot faster sometimes.”

Completing the podium is Vestas 11th Hour Racing, the winner of Leg 1. Skipper Charlie Enright’s team was always in the mix with the leaders on this leg, but couldn’t find a way to slip into the lead.

“We’re happy with a podium result against a lot of good teams,” Enright said, dockside in Cape Town. “We’re not satisfied yet with how we’re sailing the boat, so we still have a lot of work to do, but we’ll keep chipping away. We’re still trying to get faster through the water and streamline our decision-making, but it’s a long race. We have time.”

Team Brunel finished in fourth, while Team AkzoNobel secured a fifth place finish holding their nerve to finish ahead of the boats behind them.

The closest finishes of this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race took place at the back of the fleet, where just metres separated sixth from seventh place.

On the approach to Cape Town, skipper David Witt’s Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag led Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic by two miles. But after sailing into the swirling, shifting winds below Table Mountain, that narrow advantage was whittled away.

By the finish, Caffari had closed to within 0.1 nautical miles – less than 200 metres – at the end of a 7,000 nautical mile leg. But her team just couldn’t find a way to make the pass.

“We’ve had Scallywag in our sights since the equator crossing and that result is not what we deserved. We deserved more, I’m gutted for them,” Caffari said.

“We lost two miles today to them and then we got it back to a couple of boat lengths. Fair play to our guys to make it happen and that’s why I wanted the result to go the other way.”

Witt and his crew would withstand the assault and after sailing within sight of Turn the Tide on Plastic for most of the Leg, could finally exhale, crossing the finish line just over one-minute ahead.

“Everyone was good. No one gives up,” Witt said, paying tribute to his crew. “We’re solid. We have good character. We have to stick together, keep fighting and get better.”

With all seven teams now finished, the winner of Leg 2, MAPFRE, is also on top of the overall leaderboard, by just a one-point margin over Vestas 11th Hour Racing. Dongfeng Race Team is a further two points adrift.

The crews will take some well-deserved rest now, before the In-Port Race on 8 December. Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Cape Town to Melbourne, starts on 10 December.

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