Leg 5 Of Volvo Ocean Race Ends In Glory For Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing
Published: Wednesday, 08 April 2015
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) buried the miserable memories of three years ago to win an epic Southern Ocean/south Atlantic crossing in Leg 5 and claim their second stage victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.
In 2012, Walker’s crew were forced to return to Auckland with hull damage and eventually retired from the leg to Itajaí, Brazil.
Despite taking the worst that the Southern Ocean and then the south Atlantic could throw at them, the Emirati team emerged triumphant after nearly 19 days of challenging, tight sailing.
Amazingly, skipper Ian Walker reported that they had reached Itajaí with the least amount of work for the shore crew to do of any leg so far in this edition.
In addition to all of this, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing set the new best mark in the chase for IWC prize for the most nautical miles (nm) sailed in 24 hours with 551nm leading up to Cape Horn.
“That (IWC record) was actually what got us back up with the leaders,” says Walker. “Since then we have sailed very, very well. It’s a very tight finish.”
He credited his team’s versatility for much of their success: elapsed time for Leg 5 – 18 days 23 hours 30 minutes 10 seconds.
“Seven out of eight of our guys drive, so nobody has to drive for too long,” Walker says. “We rotate everybody and I can’t speak highly enough of everybody in our team.”
The stage victory leaves Walker’s team seven points clear at the top of the standings with five of the nine legs now completed.
That gap was opened up following the misfortune of a broken mast, which struck Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) last Monday, March 30 and led to their retirement from the leg two days later.
The Chinese boat is now being sailed, partly under motor, to Itajaí where the shore crew will be under an immense amount of pressure to have the new mast refitted in time for the start of the next leg to Newport, Rhode Island on April 19.
Along with Dongfeng’s broken mast, there were at least three cases of Chinese Gybes when the boats crashed on their sides before righting and there were numerous cases of other sail and equipment breakages.
Leg 5 was incredibly closely fought throughout its 6,776nm course with Mapfre (Iker Martínez/ESP), Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) chasing Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing all the way to Itajaí and finishing in that order.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing beat the Spanish team by a little over 32 minutes with less than an hour separating the leading four.
Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) had more than their share of problems, damaging three sails and then suffering a port rudder breakage on Sunday. They made it to Itajaí on Tuesday, April 7 and arrived to a well-deserved Brazilian welcome fit for heroines.
Finishing times for Leg 5:
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing - 18d 23h 30m 10s
2. Mapfre - 19d 00h 02m 56s
3. Team Alvimedica - 19d 00h 24m 32s
4. Team Brunel - 19d 00h 25m 48s
5. Team SCA - 20d 17h 52m 15s