When the Volvo Ocean Race jury penalized Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s closest rivals for the 2014-15 title, it proved to be both good and bad news for lead skipper Ian Walker (GBR).
Walker had previously shared that his tactics for the final two legs, having opened up a formidable six-point advantage, would be to cover Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA).
While the jury penalty increased Abu Dhabi’s lead over Dongfeng by a point, it now put the Chinese team level with Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED), meaning that Walker can no longer cover just one boat. He now has two boats to look after, and with Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) back in a restored seven-strong fleet, there are more points to potentially lose.
“We’ve got to finish in the top three or top four – twice – or just beat them (Team Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team),” Walker said.
Caudrelier, who suffered a major blow to his pursuit of the title when his team was dismasted on Leg 5, remains optimistic.
“Anything can still happen to Abu Dhabi on these next two legs, so we haven’t lost sight of the chance of beating them. Of course, now Brunel is also in the picture, which perhaps makes it just as complicated for Abu Dhabi as it does for us. Who will cover whom?”
Sunday’s penultimate leg will be prefaced on Saturday (1400 local time/1300 UTC) by the Lisbon in-port race, the eighth act of a 10-part series that could yet prove meaningful as the overall score will be used as the final tie-breaker. See the course map and crew list.
The penultimate leg from Lisbon, Portugal to Lorient, France (647 nm) will start on June 7 with an ETA between June 9 and 12. See the start diagram and crew list. Notable on the crew list is that Xabi Fernández has been confirmed as MAPFRE’s skipper for Leg 8, stepping in for Iker Martínez who must fulfill pre-race commitments to train with the Nacra 17 class for the Rio 2016 Games.
Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 11 with the final finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, seven teams will be scoring points in 9 offshore legs to determine the overall Volvo Ocean Race winner. Additionally, the teams will compete in 10 In-Port races at each stopover for a separate competition, the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Series.