shit's gettin' real

There is some very dramatic racing going on in the Volvo Ocean Race as the boats close in on the finish of the penultimate leg of the race. After a very slow start out of Cardiff that saw the boats drifting on a glassy sea, things changed as the fleet picked up some breeze off the Scottish coast. As they rounded the Hebrides Islands the Spanish yacht Mapfre led with the Chinese on Dongfeng in hot pursuit. Much is at stake as these two boats are atop the leaderboard with Dongfeng a single point ahead of Mapfre. Had they maintained the same order all the way to Sweden Mapfre would have leapfrogged into the lead claiming bonus points for their first place. But overnight things changed and they changed dramatically.
In third place in the overall standings is the Dutch entry Team Brunel. They had been a little off the pace on this leg languishing mid fleet, but I am guessing that skipper Bouwe Bekking had been keeping some of his powder dry. During the dark of the night Bekking turned on the afterburners and rocketed into first place. The conditions are perfect for all the boats as a steady southerly wind blows over their starboard beam and with sheets eased they are all sailing between 15 and 20 knots. The forecast for the rest of the leg looks for much of the same so it’s going to be a boat speed, drag race to the finish, unless of course the breeze craps out close to land the game restarts. You can be sure that there are some nervous navigators crunching numbers with only 150 miles to go to the finish in Gothenburg, Sweden.
So as it stands as of this morning Brunel is leading but only by a slim margin. Mapfre is in second place a scant mile astern but here is the interesting news. Dongfeng has fallen back into fourth place. If this is how things remain for the rest of the leg the overall standing are going to get a shakeup. Brunel and Mapfre will both be in first place overall with 65 points and the Chinese will be relegated to third overall with 64 points. However, if Dongfeng manages to claw back into third they will stand alongside Brunel and Mapfre in first place overall with 65 points. There is one little twist in the tail to look out for in the final points tally. There is an extra point awarded for the boat that sailed the fastest race. It’s the Total Elapsed Time point and at this stage of the game I believe Dongfeng is lined up to receive the bonus.
Did I mention that there is some dramatic racing going on in the Volvo Ocean Race?
For my part, in case you were wondering, I am hoping that Team Brunel wins this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. Bouwe Bekking is by all accounts a really decent guy and after many previous attempts it will be nice for him to finally go out with a win. But more than that history will be made by New Zealander Peter Burling. Burling, as you may remember, won the America’s Cup last year and previously he had won both gold and silver Olympic medals.  For him to win the Volvo Ocean Race aboard Team Brunel will make him a Triple Crown winner and that would be very cool.
The final leg of this Volvo Ocean Race starts on June 21 and is a 700 nautical mile sprint to The Hague in the Netherlands. It may be that just a measly 700 miles decides the overall winner of the race. Oh, and there is one more reason that I want Team Brunel to win. They are a Dutch entry and The Hague, as we all remember from our geography lessons, is in Holland.