Dongfeng won a convoluted Volvo Ocean Race InPort Race sailed on Waitemata Harbour in light winds.
After a confused start in which three boats got away cleanly, the others struggled to clear the melee.
The race looked set to have the prizegiving able to be held halfway up the first leg. However, God was on the side of the Kiwi sailing fans who lined both sides of the harbour – well the parts that do actually allow public access. And those who had slightly more financial wherewithal (or knew someone of that ilk) managed to get on the water, forming a sideline for the three yearly sailing show.
As happened in the Practice Race the day before, the Volvo OR fleet made modest progress down the harbour before Those Upstairs started fiddling with the wind settings, and the breeze swung ahead/dropped away almost completely or both.
This treated the fans to the somewhat odd sight of the Volvo 65’s rolling up their massive Code Zero’s to almost storm jib size and then using the smaller sail area to get to the first mark. Oddly enough it worked, or Those Upstairs got the wind sorted out, and the fleet was re-shuffled before heading back up the harbour.
For a time Burling at the helm of the yellow hulled Team Brunel looked to have the measure of the red-hulled MAPFRE, with his Gold medal Winning crew, Blair Tuke was in the middle of the boat, with his #77 red MAPFRE shirt.
Tuke looks like he has paid another visit to his favourite hairdresser, Andy Maloney, as he did before the America’s Cup Match in Bermuda. Unfortunately, his monk-cut didn’t work the same magic as it did for Tuke on his previous ride in Bermuda.
The breeze remained light and sailable for the remainder of the race on a shortened course, with Dongfeng Race Team taking the win, and Team AkzoNobel hanging in for second.
To prove that local knowledge is more of a curse than an asset, Peter Burling (Team Brunel) and Blair Tuke (MAPFRE) never seriously threatened the front of the fleet.
However, MAPFRE was best of the rest snatching third place, and maintaining their lead in the InPort Trophy in addition to their overall lead in the overall race. Vestas 11th Hour Racing proved the “local knowledge” point by sneaking aboard former Volvo Ocean Race winner Mike Sanderson to finish fourth. Moose proved just as effective as the other two with Vestas 11th Hour finishing fourth.
Today’s race boldly underlined the folly of including points gained in the InPort race in the overall Volvo Ocean Race trophy.
Mercifully there are now two separate events, so everyone can now enjoy the InPort race for what it is – a bit of a giggle, with bragging rights for the rest of the week – until the serious racing gets underway for Leg 7, next Sunday.
by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz