Team Telefónica became the first team to win the first three legs of a Volvo Ocean Race in 22 years as they swept to glory in Leg 3 from Abu Dhabi to Sanya.
Not since Sir Peter Blake’s Steinlager 2 made a clean sweep of all four legs of the 1989-90 edition of the Whitbread Round the World Race has the event seen such success.
Cheers went up from the Telefónica crew, led by Spanish Olympian, as they blasted across the finish line of Leg 3 Stage 2 in Sanya, China, at 0400 UTC to claim 24 points.
Coupled with the three points they scored for the first part of the leg, a 100 nautical mile dash from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah, the win hands Telefónica overall glory in Leg 3 and propels them to 95 points.
Thousands of people lined the dock and packed the race village to welcome the team into Sanya, the first stopover in the Chinese port in the race’s 38-year history.
Damage to the team’s huge Code Zero headsail hours after starting the leg relegated Telefónica to last place but the savvy sailors picked their way back into contention with clever tactics and blistering boat speed.
After taking a more northerly course on the drag race east across the Bay of Bengal, Telefónica snatched the front spot from leg leaders PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG on January 26 and despite constant attacks from Groupama sailing team, who at one point were within one mile of the leaders, held off their rivals to take the win.
Groupama finished in second place and take 20 points.
Click here?nid=93574 to watch the live coverage and interviews as each competitor finishes
If you miss a race finish just scroll down to hear the full interview from the start.