Two wily old campaigners, Bouwe Bekking and Andrew Cape, picked Dongfeng Race Team’s pocket to edge out the Chinese boat and claim Leg 2 honours for Team Brunel on Saturday morning (Dec. 13). The pair have 11 previous Volvo Ocean Races behind them and all that experience told in the final stretch of this 5,185 nautical mile, second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi.
It was nick and tuck all the way towards the finish line with first the Dutch, and then the Chinese boat, looking favourite to take the winners’ laurels on a packed Abu Dhabi dock.
Finally, Charles Caudrelier looked to have secured the advantage for Dongfeng and his mix of experienced French and rookie Chinese sailors. But Bekking and Cape, who chalk up 103 years between them, had one last card to play and they found some timely wind pressure, apparently from nowhere, to streak past Dongfeng and secure a crucial one-mile advantage.
Game set match.
“It is a good feeling,” Bekking beamed. “I’ve always said, it’s better to be lucky than good but we’ve been good this leg as well so it’s so nice to win this one because it could have been an easy leg to finish last. It’s just really nice to get the scores but the team did a fantastic job, we sailed the boat much better than in the first leg. So that’s the nicest feeling of all.
It was certainly not all plain sailing for the winners, though, in this new era of one-design Volvo Ocean 65 sailing.
“It’s just hard work. In the past you could probably relax a little bit because you had a fast boat but now it’s just full on all the time. When you make a mistake then somebody else gets the advantage. That puts the pressure on a lot, especially the young guys. They sometimes can’t really cope when they lose one or two places when the big wind shift comes or a light puff. But they did a tremendous job as well on this leg. It’s been a good one.”
With Dongfeng finishing 16 minutes later, and then Abu Dhabi coming in three and a half hours off the lead, it would complete what had been a three boat race for nearly two weeks. The next group came in Sunday (Dec. 14), with MAPRE having passed Alvimedica in the Gulf of Oman and extending to a 10 hour lead at the finish.
Leg 2 Results
1. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), finished Dec. 13, 23d 16h 25mn 20s
2. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), finished Dec. 13, 23d 16h 41mn 40s
3. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), finished Dec. 13, 23d 19h 8mn 15s
4. MAPFRE, Iker Martinez (ESP), finished Dec. 14, 24d 11h 18m 18s
5. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), finished Dec. 14, 24d 21h 29m 23s
6. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), finished Dec. 14, 025d 06h 23m 34s
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), Suspended racing
1. Team Brunel (NED), 2-2 = 4pts
2. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (UAE), 1-3 = 4
3. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), 2-2 = 4
4. Team Alvimedica (TUR/USA), 5-5 = 10
5. MAPRE (ESP), 7-4 = 11
6. Team SCA (SWE), 6-6 = 12
7. Team Vestas Wind (DNK), 4-8 = 12