Published: Wednesday, 27 May 2015

UPDATE: With less than 10 nautical miles to go before the first boats reach Lisbon, the Volvo teams have just reported the following positions:

1. Brunel (8nm to finish)

2. Mapfre (9nm to finish)

3. Dongfeng (10nm to finish)

4. Abu Dhabi (21nm to finish)

5. Alvimedica (22nm to finish)

6. SCA (39nm to finish) 

Brunel In Front With Volvo Finish Nearly In Sight 3

(Photo: Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel / Volvo Ocean Race)

Note: The following report from Dongfeng Race Team was received 12 hours ago. 

Leg 7: Newport, US to Lisbon, Portugal (2,800nm)

Days at sea: 9

Distance to finish: 286nm

Dongfeng position: Third, 9.6nm behind leader Brunel

Dongfeng boat speed: 20 knots

Brunel In Front With Volvo Finish Nearly In Sight

(Photo: Ya​nn Riou/​ Dongfen​g Race T​eam / Volvo Ocean Race)

Just over 300 miles to go and it’s been a wet, cold and frustrating night for the determined men of Dongfeng as they fight to stay with leg leaders Brunel. A difficult sail change during the night, and some consistently better boat speed from Brunel in these tight reaching conditions, has put over 7 miles between them, with Mapfre sandwiched in the middle.

Brunel is just 4 points (effectively 3 with the tiebreaker in its favour) behind Dongfeng in the overall standings – so Charles and the team simply must find a way to get back to them, and pass them, before the Lisbon finish line.

With the timing of the final approach likely to be in the early hours of the morning (Wednesday May 27), possibly one of the worst times for wind in the bay between Cascais and Lisbon, there could of course be a complete restart.

Brunel In Front With Volvo Finish Nearly In Sight 1

(Photo: Ya​nn Riou/​ Dongfen​g Race T​eam / Volvo Ocean Race)

Maybe even sufficient a park up for Abu Dhabi, unusually back in 5th place but closing Alvimedica in 4th, to come back for the final fight, too. Either way, the results in this leg are critical for the entire race – they will set the tone for the final two ‘sprint’ legs – will Abu Dhabi remain clear enough ahead to relax (not it seems the mode Ian Walker is in right now!), will Brunel get close to stealing 2nd place from Dongfeng, or will Dongfeng manage to pull off a result right at the front and open up the entire race result?

When boats stop in the calms, remember that it only takes the boat behind doing 18 knots 25 minutes to catch up 7 miles.

Only time will tell. The next 24 hours to be precise.

And until then if you think its simple straight line sailing, think again – "In the middle of the night, on the foredeck of a boat launched at full speed, heeled to 30 degrees and covered by the waves, changing the foresail for the J1 is not what you would spontaneously choose to do.”

Brunel In Front With Volvo Finish Nearly In Sight 2

(Photo: Ya​nn Riou/​ Dongfen​g Race T​eam / Volvo Ocean Race)

It’s taking its toll, the colder conditions and the 24/7 stress of match racing across the Atlantic. “Their faces are tired and their eyes, struggling to stay open. They do their watches, they eat, and they go to sleep.”

Quotes From Dongfeng Sailors

“A 500-mile speed test” (Thomas Rouxel)

“We can expect anything from the arrival in Lisbon, including a restart in the bay” (Charles Caudrelier)

“The manoeuvre to change to the J1 is not what you want to do in the middle of the night” (Martin Strömberg)

“This is the last day and we are all very excited. The rivals are not far away (from us), we are making every effort to make to boat go faster. Hope we have a chance to pass them at the end.” (Horace)