bad tactics or good strategy?

Our coverage of the Volvo Ocean Race is presented by Musto, the Official Apparel Provider to the 2017-18 race.
It may appear strange to see the two current red boats as back markers rather than front runners in the current leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. At around 10% of the remaining distance to run behind the leading boat a leg victory would be considered highly unlikely for either the Spanish or the Chinese entry
It is important to remember that although called the Volvo Ocean Race, the only time being fastest round the world counts is for that solitary bonus point for shortest elapsed time and they were  only  separated by a cumulative 10 minutes on their respective arrivals into Hong Kong. It could more accurately named the Volvo Ocean Regatta with the scoring system more akin to a club series or championship than a continuous race around the planet.
Bearing that in mind and considering where we are in the ‘regatta’ the actions of Dongfeng and Mapfre start to make a little bit of sense.
Taking the points difference at the start of this leg into account, If Mapfre sails into Auckland before Dongfeng they will be 5 points clear in the lead. Reverse the order and that Dongfeng deficit reduces to 3 points. That is not a huge amount in a fleet where the winner only takes 8 points while the losingest picks up 1 and starts to nibble away at Mapfre’s lead. One further factor to consider is that if Dongfeng finish ahead of Mapfre in the subsequent leg (the Southern Ocean double pointer) AND are first to the Horn then at the regatta mid-point it is all square.
AS we often see in sport the competitor that comes from behind gains a psychological advantage over the former leader, a point that will not be missed by Dongfeng who have suffered that fate in two earlier legs of this VOR edition and Mapfre would now be in a position where one small mistake could cost them the overall lead – unpleasant pressure for sure.
But what of the chasing pack? Sadly Vestas who were lying in third will score DNS meaning zero on this leg so they will not threaten either Mapfre or Dongfeng where either a last or second last place will extend these two contenders by 1 or 2 points. Even if Scallywag records her second leg win in succession by overhauling Akzonobel she will still be comfortably behind the two red boats.
So having absorbed what is an intriguing position, once again I ask, are Mapfre and Dongfeng playing a bad tactical game on this leg to The Land of the Long White Cloud or are they in actual fact being a heck of a lot smarter than first meets the eye and look at their longer term strategic goal which is, after all, to lift the Volvo Ocean Race Trophy and not just the one for the Hong Kong to Auckland leg win. – Shanghai Sailor.