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Volvo Ocean Race – MAPFRE seal overall Leg Zero victory

by Kevin Fylan on 16 Aug 2017
Leg Zero, Plymouth to St. Malo – on board MAPFRE – Volvo Ocean Race Jen Edney / Volvo Ocean Race
MAPFRE did enough to take the overall Leg Zero honours after the fourth and final stage of the Volvo Ocean Race qualifying series was shortened due to continued forecasts of lights winds.

The stage, which started from Saint-Malo on Sunday and had been due to see the teams race all the way to Lisbon, was brought to a close at 0430 UTC on Wednesday morning.

Fast-improving Vestas 11th Hour Racing took the stage win with the shortest Distance to Finish at 0430 UTC. Team AkzoNobel were second, and third place in the stage was enough for MAPFRE to seal overall victory.

'I think it was a good decision (to shorten the stage) because this Leg Zero was already becoming quite long,' said MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernández. 'It's been very interesting. We’ve done a lot of training over the winter and I think we’ve seen that we sail very well.'

The decision to call a halt to the racing came late on Tuesday night as the stage had become a drifting contest, with the teams making a series of expensive gybes in a bid to find some wind, and latest ETAs predicting that the boats would not reach Lisbon until well into Thursday.

“Preparation time for the Volvo Ocean Race is at a real premium and we have to make sure the teams are using that time in the best way to get ready,” said Race Director Phil Lawrence, who had already taken the decision to split the race into two parts because of the lack of wind on the first day of racing.

No actual points are at stake on Leg Zero, which was introduced as a means to give the teams crucial time on the water in racing conditions before the Volvo Ocean Race itself begins in October.

At 1900 UTC on Tuesday, speeds for the Volvo Ocean 65s on the final stage were around 5 knots, with all but Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag just off Cape Finisterre.

After being informed of the decision to cut short racing, the teams had about eight hours to adjust their strategy.

By 0100 UTC on Wednesday, the teams were making slow progress down the north western coast of Spain in isolated pockets of breeze ranging from 2-6 knots from a southerly direction.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing and MAPFRE were at the head of the pack before team AkzoNobel started to advance, sailing slightly to the west and managing to avoid the pocket of light airs affecting their rivals.

On a difficult and frustrating night for the teams, Vestas 11th Hour Racing did just enough to hold on and finish Leg Zero on a high note.

'There may never be another one quite like that, but we'll take it,' said skipper Charlie Enright. 'We've been improving every day we spend on the boat together and it's nice to see that improvement manifest itself in the form of a win. We still have a lot to work on but it gives us confidence in the process as we move forward.'

Leg Zero, stage four rankings

1. Vestas 11th Hour Racing
2. team AkzoNobel
3. MAPFRE
4. Dongfeng Race Team
5. Turn the Tide on Plastic
6. Team Brunel
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag

Leg Zero, overall final rankings


1. MAPFRE 29 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team 24
3. Team Brunel 23
4. team AkzoNobel 22
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing 20
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic 13
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 9
Nebo 660x82 2Selden 660x82RS Sailing BOTTOM