Bouwe Bekking (NED) and Team Brunel found a very timely change of gear to sweep past Dongfeng Race Team and edge to a 16-minute victory in an incident-packed Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race on 13th December.
The wily Dutch campaigner, competing in a record-equalling seventh race, looked likely to have lost out in a thrilling sprint to the finish in the 5,200 nautical mile second stage with some five hours to go.
However, Team Brunel found an extra surge of wind pressure to sweep past Charles Caudrelier’s (FRA) men even though the boats were only a couple of hundred metres apart and before long they were a mile clear.
Bouwe and his equally experienced navigator, Andrew Cape (AUS), have too much know-how to let an advantage like that slip and for the second leg running, the Chinese boat was forced to settle for the runners-up spot.
The leg may always be remembered for the grounding of the Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) boat on a reef in the middle of the Indian Ocean on November 29, ten days after the departure from Cape Town, which forced their abandonment from the stage, but this grandstand finish will also stay long in the memory.
Dongfeng’s second runners-up spot leaves them equal on points at the top of the standings with Team Brunel and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, who were easing in for third place. They all have four points but Team Brunel and Ian Walker’s (GBR) men are ranked above Dongfeng Race Team because of victories each has already achieved.
There’s all to play for with seven legs to go before the race finale in Gothenburg on June 27.