After nine months of gruelling competition, the Volvo Ocean Race boats have started the final leg of the closest-ever contest in the round-the-world event’s 45-year history.
As the seven competing Volvo 65s passed the Inmarsat-branded start line in Gothenburg, Sweden today, three teams were in a virtual tie for the ultimate crown, with everything to be decided in the 700nm sprint to The Hague.
Two teams – MAPFRE and Team Brunel – now sit tied at the top of the overall leaderboard on 65 points with Dongfeng Race Team currently just one point behind them on 64.
However, if Dongfeng beats the other two in Leg 11, it means they will also be positioned to receive the bonus point for the shortest elapsed time around the world. This has effectively created a three-way tie that will only be settled by the result of this final leg, the shortest of the edition.
Ahead of the start, Charles Caudrelier, skipper of Dongfeng Race Team, said: “We know it’s going to be a big fight, it’s good for the race and we’re excited and ready to go.”
Xabi Fernández, the skipper of MAPFRE, has led the race for more stages than any other team. Now he’s pushing to bring victory to Spain for the first time in the history of the race.
“We are in an amazing situation now, we have three boats, equal points, one leg to go. I am very happy to be among these three boats and fighting,” Fernández said. “But we know that only one will win. We have one mission, we have to beat them.”
Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel has already made a tremendous comeback from being in sixth place in Auckland. “We’re in the flow,” the skipper said. “If you look at the leaderboard, we’re going faster on every leg. I think we have ended up with a team that we’re really happy with. Last but not least, I’m sailing in my home waters. We have all the ingredients to win the race.”