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Volvo Ocean Race Team Brunel

Volvo Ocean Race – Team Brunel fourth in exciting in-port race

Team Brunel has come fourth in the Sanya in-port race. With 12 points, skipper Bouwe Bekking’s team now holds second place in the general in-port series.

The average wind speed was 12 knots from the Southeast and the sun was shining brightly. Team Brunel started good, and opted for the left-hand side of the course soon after the start. With the big A3 gennaker in the top, the Dutch team ran before the wind to the first downwind mark, which they then rounded in second place, behind the leader Alvimedica.

After this downwind mark – also known as a gate in the sailing world – Team Brunel chose the left-hand side of the course. This was where Bouwe Bekking’s team took advantage of a favourable wind change. The left-hand side turned out to be the best option, with Team Brunel passing the first upwind gate as second boat.

In the third windward tack, Bekking opted for the far right of the course, but a technical defect stopped this choice from giving the advantage he had hoped for. The Dutch VO65 failed to tack quickly enough, and Team Brunel dropped back to fourth position.Volvo Ocean Race - Team Brunel

The field was so close today, explained Laurent Pagès after the race. According to Pagès, who was at the wheel, this was a perfect example of how an in-port race should be run. The French sailor was a little less enthusiastic when asked about the results however. Fourth place just isn’t good enough, but luckily I saw plenty of positive aspects as well. We started excellently for example, and we rounded the first downwind gate in second position.

On rounding this gate for the second time a little later on, we struggled with the so-called locking system for the headsail. Just as we were about to tack, the small headsail shot out of its locking device, which meant we couldn’t lower the big gennaker quickly enough. From that point on, we just couldn’t keep up. Instead of being able to concentrate on the normal sailing work, we had to start by solving the technical issue.

The locking system was still problematic in the third upwind tack to the gate. We were in a fantastic position, but once again couldn’t tack quickly enough. By the time we’d sorted the problem and were ready to tack, we’d lost the advantage of the wind change. And so the top three left us behind.

On Sunday, Team Brunel will begin the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 to Auckland in New Zealand, together with the other five competitors.

by Robbert-Jan Metselaar

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