Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) have already all but secured the overall Volvo Ocean Race trophy in Lorient, France, after claiming their seventh podium position of the eight legs sailed so far.
Even if they finish last in the final leg to Gothenburg from Lorient, starting today at 16:00 hrs (17:00 CEST) via a pit stop in The Hague, they still cannot be caught by their closest pursuers, Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), eight points behind them.
Meantime, Bouwe Bekking and his second-placed crew are desperate to take that second step on the podium. But no less than three teams are breathing down their necks and determined to pass them on the final leg.
Just six points separate the Dutch boat (27 points) from Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA – 29 points), MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP – 31 points) and Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA – 33).
And both Leg 8 winners, Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR), and runners-up, Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS), have ample reason to upset them all too. They will each be desperate to prove that their fantastic performances from Lisbon to Lorient were no flashes in the pan.
Bekking would like nothing better than to sail into the 24-hour pit stop in The Hague in his home country in the lead – “it’s going to be huge there, it will be crazy” – and then seal the deal in Gothenburg, two days later.
The seven boats are expected to arrive in The Hague (Scheveningen) on Friday morning and leave after midday the following day following the brief stop.
They will then arrive in port for the final time on Monday (June 22), or more unlikely, the following day, in Gothenburg for a grandstand finish roared on by what is expected to be a packed Race Village.