Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) buried the miserable memories of three years ago to win an epic Southern Ocean/south Atlantic crossing in Leg 5 and claim their second stage victory in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15.
In 2012, Walker’s crew were forced to return to Auckland with hull damage and eventually retired from the leg to Itajaí, Brazil. This time, though, despite taking the worst that the Southern Ocean and then the south Atlantic could throw at them, the Emirati team emerged triumphant after nearly nineteen days of ultra-challenging, super-tight sailing.
Amazingly, skipper Ian Walker reported that they had reached Itajaí with the least amount of work for their shore crew to do of any leg so far in this edition. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing also set the new best mark in the chase for IWC prize for the most nautical miles sailed in 24 hours with 551nm leading up to Cape Horn.
The team dropped the keel on two occasions in the heaviest of the weather with 50-knot winds buffeting the fleet, losing some ground, but keeping his boat intact.
“In hindsight, that looks a pretty shrewd decision,” Walker said.
The stage victory leaves Walker’s team seven points clear at the top of the standings with five of the nine legs now completed.
Unfortunately Dongfeng Race Team suffered a broken mast, which led to their retirement from the leg. The Chinese boat is now being sailed, partly under motor, to Itajaí where its shore crew face a race against time to have the new mast refitted in time for the start of the next leg to Newport, Rhode Island, on April 19. Along from Dongfeng’s broken mast, there were at least three cases of Chinese gybes when the boats crashed to their sides before righting, and there were numerous cases of other sail and equipment breakages.
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 18 days 23 hours 30 minutes 10 seconds
2. MAFPRE – 19d 00h 02min 56s
3. Team Alvimedica – 19d 00h 24min 32s
4. Team Brunel – 19d 00h 25min 48s