Volvo Ocean Race, Team Dongfeng wins heartbreaking sixth leg


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m39229_vor-150506-sanchez-1810Dongfeng Race Team crossed the finish line in Newport, Rhode Island state, at 10:03 p.m. local time (4:03 a.m. Italian time) today, May 7, 2015, after 17 days and 9 hours of sailing. In second place, only three minutes and 25 seconds later finished the overall leader Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, led by British Olympian Ian Walker, while third came the Dutch of Team Brunel with skipper Bouwe Bekking and fourth were the Spaniards of MAPFRE led by Xabi Fernandez.

m39253_vor-150506-weiss-7468A SPECIAL VICTORY
For Charles Caudrelier, this victory has a special flavor after the mast breakage that Dongfeng Race Team suffered on Leg 5 and forced the boat to retire. Then a real race against time to be able to be on the start line of the sixth stage, with the new mast mounted only three days before the start. On the eve of the race, with a seven-point gap from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the overall standings, Caudrelier and his men had only one goal: to win this leg and the following ones to catch up with the Emirates team. But, only hours after departure, a new technical problem on Dongfeng that could have jeopardized the French/Chinese crew’s ambitions: the breakdown of the onboard electric desalinator, vital for producing the fresh water needed to hydrate and cook freeze-dried food. Fortunately, the repair made by Kévin Escoffier will hold and the possibility of having to make a technical pit stop will be averted 36 hours later. Dongfeng will return fifth fully into the race to set up an exciting battle with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Team Brunel that will only end at the finish line in Newport.

A happy skipper Charles Caudrelier as soon as he crossed the line said, “I am very proud of my group, especially the shore team. Our goal for this stage was to be ready in Itajaì, and the team did a fantastic job. I want to dedicate this victory to them
. I’m really, really happy.” Caudrelier added that the stage was, “Very tough, it happened at least ten times that what we had managed to gain was lost and the others made up for it. We were not very lucky, every time we had a bit of a lead we lost it. I have to congratulate Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, they made a great recovery. Even in the last hours, they passed us but then we were able to pass them back.” When asked what the secret of the victory was, the transalpine skipper said, “It was a real team effort, I’m proud of the improvement of everyone, and the Chinese guys. In this leg there was practically a tactical choice to be made every day, but what saved us was good speed.” Also aboard the Chinese-flagged hull was Onboard reporter Sam Greenfield, who lives right in Newport where the Volvo Ocean Race is calling for the first time in its history, so he was the first American to win a leg in the Rhode Island location.

May 6, 2015. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing arriving to Newport.THE “LOSERS” OF THE MATCH RACE
Only three minutes and 25 seconds after Dongfeng’s finish, it was overall leader Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing that crossed the finish line in Newport, a result that allows Ian Walker and his crew to maintain the lead. “All good.” Said the British skipper. “We spent the last few days hoping to be able to stay in second place. For us this is the most important thing, of course we would have liked to win, but finishing second was crucial. We are very satisfied. I think this was our best stage so far.” Walker also wanted to congratulate the opponents. “Congratulations to Charles and his crew, especially the Chinese guys. They ran a fantastic stage and theirs is a very well-deserved victory.”

With the result of the sixth leg, the provisional overall ranking still sees Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the lead with 11 points, Dongfeng Race Team is second at 17 points and Team Brunel occupies the third position with 19 points.



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