A brave strategy to strike out north from the rest of the fleet looked like it was paying big dividends for Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) on Thursday as Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race stood intriguingly poised.
MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) held the lead at 0640 UTC, narrowly ahead of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), overall race leaders, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) and Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA).
But all four of them would gladly swap places with Team Brunel and Team SCA, who were surfing along in two to three knots more breeze, at around 14-16 knots, to the north of the main pack (for the latest positions see panel above and see our Race Tracker and Dashboard here).
The route the breakaway pair is taking is roughly 300 nautical miles (nm) further than their rivals, but the extra pressure should catapult them ahead nevertheless.
They have just under 4,700nm of the 5,264nm fourth stage from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand, to sail, and, in around a week’s time, the boats will converge again near an area of Doldrums in the north Pacific.
However, the all-women’s crew of Team SCA headed by Briton, Sam Davies, and the Dutch team of Team Brunel led by Bouwe Bekking, were already looking very handily positioned to secure a jump on their rivals following their bold tactic taken some 48 hours ago.
For Team SCA, in particular, the next few days will be among the most crucial for them in the race since the boats left the shores of Alicante on October 11 last year.
They have largely been playing catch-up on the rest of the more-experienced teams in the fleet in the first three legs and this is an apparently golden chance to make their mark on an offshore leg.
Davies and her crew will not know for at least a week whether the gamble to sail towards Taiwan – in apparently totally the opposite direction from their destination in New Zealand – will have paid off in full.
But already, some of their rivals have accepted that, for once, it will be their turn to be chasing the women sailors for long parts of the race through the Pacific.
Sam Greenfield (USA), the Onboard Reporter on Dongfeng, summed up in his daily blog from the boat with this message to Team SCA: “Take the money, and run like you stole it.
“If it can’t be us winning this leg – and I promise that there are five Frenchmen, two Chinese and a really tall Swede that’ll do everything to steal that lead away – we hope it’ll be you.”
* The Hague, Netherlands, which is holding a pit-stop on June 18-20, have lined up eight top Dutch musical acts to perform at the three-day festival. These are: Anouk, Golden Earring, Typhoon, DI-RECT, Miss Montreal, Gers Pardoel, Nielson and Racoon.
Online tickets sales started today at 1000 CET and are available here: volvooceanracefestivaldenhaag.com. They are already selling fast, according to organisers.
by BYM and admin