The local heroes on Xabi Fernandez’s MAPFRE were a popular winner in the first point scoring race of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race.
Sailing in winds of 8-10kts, Fernandez and his team made a bold call at the start to duck behind the entire fleet in order to sail up what turned out to be the favoured right hand side of the course, coming from behind to earn a narrow lead at the first gate.
MAPFRE managed to stretch out to a lead of nearly one-minute at the bottom gate, giving them a lead they would extend the rest of the way.
‘The truth is it hasn’t been an easy race but we took a bit of a risk at the start,’ Fernandez said after the finish. ‘We saw the gap in front of Brunel and we went for it. Everything went really well.’
The Spanish team sailed a flawless race, in terms of strategy and execution, and were never threatened after grabbing the lead at the first mark.
But behind them, it was a hard-fought race. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag was strong on the first leg, but dropped back over the course of the race. In contrast, Dongfeng Racing fought up to grab second place, battling with Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Team Brunel who were trading places throughout the race. Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag made a late gain to grab fifth over team AkzoNobel with Turn the Tide on Plastic never recovering from a poor first leg.
MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante — Provisional Results
2. Dongfeng Racing Team
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing
4. Team Brunel
5. Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag
6. Team AkzoNobel
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic
by Volvo Ocean Race