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On the eve of a record?

19/06/2018


Sail-World NZ e-magazine - On the eve of a record?

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Team Brunel sailing fast in the North Sea - Leg 10 Volvo Ocean Race - photo © Team Brunel


Dear Recipient Name


Welcome to Sail-World.com's New Zealand e-magazine for June 19, 2018

In the early hours of Friday morning NZT, the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race gets underway.

The 45,000nm round the world race has become a whipping boy for those who claim that it has lost its joie de vivre. That theme continued until midway through Leg 10, when 30-40kt winds hit the fleet, and suddenly, somehow, Team Brunel made a five-place leap through the fleet to win the leg.

Of the other two front-runners, MAPFRE was back to her usual consistent self, recovering from a poor performance on the double scoring trans-Atlantic Leg 9 from Newport RI to Cardiff.

Dongfeng picked up a plastic bag or some other piece of sea-junk, took 24 hours to get it sorted out - and dropped down the fleet as well, recovering to finish fourth.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke - Newport stopover. Official unveiling of the Omega Volvo Ocean Race winner's watch. Omega are also a long time Emirates Team NZ sposor - photo © Jesus Renedo / Volvo Ocean Race
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke - Newport stopover. Official unveiling of the Omega Volvo Ocean Race winner's watch. Omega are also a long time Emirates Team NZ sposor - photo © Jesus Renedo / Volvo Ocean Race
That shuffling of the Volvo OR pack set up an unprecedented final Leg with three boats effectively tied on 65 points.

MAPFRE and Team Brunel have actually scored 65points, Dongfeng 64 leaderboard, plus she will surely get a bonus point for having the fastest elapsed time around the Blue Planet. On that count, she has a 19hour advantage going into Leg 11, and even with the worst of luck, it is hard to see how anyone could drop that much.

Without too many if, buts and maybe's the overall Volvo Ocean Race winner will be decided by the finishing order of the top three. Forget the tiebreaker of the In Port racing - unless there is a dead-heat for first place on Leg 11.

Team Brunel - Leg 10, from Cardiff to Gothenburg, arrivals. 14 June, . - photo © Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
Team Brunel - Leg 10, from Cardiff to Gothenburg, arrivals. 14 June, . - photo © Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
Of course Dutch-flagged Team AkzoNobel is keen to be first into her home port, and if that were so, she would take the bonus point for a leg win. However, that will not affect the overall picture.

Another point of interest will be the Leg strategy - whether the top three match race each other or just damn the torpedoes and leg it to The Hague. Either way, the winner takes all.

Then there is the question as to whether Peter Burling or Blair Tuke will become the first sailor in history to win an Olympic Gold Medal, the America's Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke - America's Cup presentation - 26 June 2017 - photo © Richard Gladwell
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke - America's Cup presentation - 26 June 2017 - photo © Richard Gladwell

Currently, the closest anyone has got to achieving the Everest of Sailing is John Kostecki (USA) who took 22 years to accomplish the feat, but fell short of the trifecta with a Silver medal in the Soling three-man keelboat class in the 1988 Olympics. His America's Cup win came in 2010 and in the 2001/01 Volvo Ocean Race skippered the Volvo 60 Illbruck Challenge to a win.

If one of the Kiwi duo is aboard the 2017/18 Volvo Ocean Race winner, then they will have achieved the three-win feat in just 22 months.

Interviewed at the end of Leg 10 in Gothenburg, Burling was a little dismissive of the focus on the so-called Triple Crown of Sailing.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke celebrate their Medal Race and Gold Medal win - Rio 2016 - photo © Richard Gladwell
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke celebrate their Medal Race and Gold Medal win - Rio 2016 - photo © Richard Gladwell

"I don't think either of us really cares about this so-called Triple Crown. We're just trying to win a yacht race."

He has a point - it is a bit of a Tenzing and Hillary question as to who was first actually to set foot on top of Mt Everest. Neither could have done it without the other.

After the victory parade in Auckland for the 1995 America's Cup, Team NZ was welcomed back to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron by Sir Edmund Hillary. Out in the carpark after the official ceremonies had concluded an impromptu media scrum went down around Blake and Hillary.

One of the mainstream media asked Sir Ed whether he thought to win the America's Cup was more difficult to win than climbing Mt Everest?

Team AkzoNobel - Leg 10 from Cardiff to Gothenburg.  - photo © Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
Team AkzoNobel - Leg 10 from Cardiff to Gothenburg. - photo © Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
That triggered the most bizarre and amazing response from two of New Zealand's legends as they each tried to argue that the other's achievement was the more difficult, the more meritorious and that they couldn't have achieved what they did without of the efforts of others - and all credit should be directed in their direction.

It was a very self-effacing and understated discussion - typical of many great New Zealand sportspeople.

One of yachting's media issues is that achievements in the sport are not easily measured relative to other sports.

There is not a lot of prize money in Yachting - so it's not like earnings can be compared like in Tennis or Golf. There are no opening sports storylines telling how a sailor had a "rich payday", or talk of what their earnings had been in the season, or their sign-on/transfer fee for joining another professional team.

Team Brunel pushed through a big one in the last 12 hours before rounding Cape Horn - photo © Yann Riou / Volvo Ocean Race
Team Brunel pushes through a big one in the last 12 hours before rounding Cape Horn. How many in the mainstream would still say Yachting is a "soft" sport? - photo © Yann Riou / Volvo Ocean Race

There's no real comparison between a Yachting Olympic Gold Medal and one from Athletics either. The perception is that an athlete spends several hours a day pounding a steep hill circuit; a rower cracks the frost underfoot before a two-hour early morning on-the-water session; a sailor just gets a smarter rules expert to find a race winning loophole.

Maybe that perception has changed after the 2017/18 Volvo Ocean Race and the drone shots of the sailors in action in the Southern Ocean.

Even if they won't admit it many in the sports media still think of Olympic Medals as "hard" or "soft" medals.

MAOFRE - Leg 10, from Cardiff to Gothenburg, arrivals. 14 June, . - photo © Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
MAPFRE - Leg 10, from Cardiff to Gothenburg, arrivals. 14 June, . - photo © Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
A Track medal - particularly one of the classic events - the 100 metres or 1500 metres - is definitely a "hard" medal, Rowing is a "hard" medal. Yachting's are "soft" medals - because there's a boat and technology involved.

A Triple Crown achievement exists in a few sports and recognises the accomplishment of being a champion in three entirely different facets of the competition. Like winning the 100 Metres, 1500 Metres and 10,000 metres in Olympic Athletics. It's no "soft" achievement.

Hopefully, if a New Zealand sailor does win the Triple Crown of an Olympic Gold Medal, the America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race - that it will be celebrated as a significant achievement and not casually dismissed.

Dongfeng - Leg 10, from Cardiff to Gothenburg, LIVE from the helicopter Day 04. 13 June, 2018. - photo © Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
Dongfeng - Leg 10, from Cardiff to Gothenburg, LIVE from the helicopter Day 04. 13 June, 2018. - photo © Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
New Zealand Yachting desperately needs people who are "door openers" in the way that Sir Ben Ainslie, the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, is regarded in England.

While the Triple Crown is a measure of the achievement of an individual. As Blake and Hillary noted outstanding achievement does represent the support of a team - or in the current instance, several teams.

It represents excellence in New Zealand's Olympic sailing program. It represents excellence in New Zealand's America's Cup program.

And hopefully in the not too distant future it will also represent excellence in a New Zealand run Volvo Ocean Race program.

Emirates Team New Zealand crosses the finish line in Race 5  - Semi-Finals, America's Cup Playoffs- Day 12, June 8, 2017 (ADT) - photo © Richard Gladwell
Emirates Team New Zealand crosses the finish line in Race 5 - Semi-Finals, America's Cup Playoffs- Day 12, June 8, 2017 (ADT) - photo © Richard Gladwell

Finally a repeat apology for being little late and short on content with our America's Cup 12 months Tribute Series. They are a lot more work than envisaged. We are taking the opportunity to go right through our photo files for each day and reprocessing the best shots. Unfortunately, this was not possible in Bermuda due to time constraints, having shot 6-8000 images per day. Now the Semi-Finals are complete, there is plenty of opportunity to catch up and back-fill content. Most of the shots being run are new, and also there are shots which with the benefit of hindsight show details whose significance was not always appreciated at the time.

Team Brunel - Leg 10, from Cardiff to Gothenburg, arrivals. 14 June, . - photo © Jesus Renedo / Volvo Ocean Race
Team Brunel - Leg 10, from Cardiff to Gothenburg, arrivals. 14 June, . - photo © Jesus Renedo / Volvo Ocean Race

Follow all the racing and developments in major and local events on Sail-World.com by scrolling to the top of the site, select New Zealand, and get all the latest news and updates from the sailing world.

All stories are available on Sail-World.com/nz

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

Dongfeng - Leg 10, from Cardiff to Gothenburg, LIVE from the helicopter Day 04. 13 June, 2018. - photo © Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
Dongfeng - Leg 10, from Cardiff to Gothenburg, LIVE from the helicopter Day 04. 13 June, 2018. - photo © Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
 
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Artemis Racing - Leg 4 - Semi-Finals, America's Cup Playoffs- Day 13, June 9, 2017 (ADT) - photo © Richard Gladwell
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Emirates Team New Zealand gives chase at the start of Leg 4 - Race 5 -Semi-Finals, America's Cup Playoffs- Day 12, June 8, 2017 (ADT) - photo © Richard Gladwell
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