The Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18: Epic Until The End
The triumphant battle
The Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 was a race that has made history. For the first time since the start of the Ocean Race in 1973, the finish was in the Netherlands. But what has really made this Volvo Ocean Race so memorable is Dongfeng Race Team’s incredible win as the first Chinese-flagged team to ever raise the trophy. Not only was this the closest victory fans of the race will have ever seen, but Carolijn Brouwer and Marie Riou were also on board as the first women sailors to win the race. Their hard-won triumph came with its fair share of tactical risks, as Skipper Charles Caudrelier and his crew made a decision to split from Team Brunel and MAPFRE who took a more western route. At this stage, all three boats were on equal footing to take the overall victory.
Caudrelier remained realistic about the boldness of his call, commenting: “We knew that we would fall behind initially and that if it came good it would only be at the end. The last position report (1300 UTC on Sunday) we were 27-miles from the finish and they [Team Brunel and MAPFRE] were 20-miles and we thought it was over. But then I did a small weather routing and it showed we could end up one-mile ahead so I woke everyone up and said, ‘let’s push!’”
And it paid off. Dongfeng Race Team remained critical about the likelihood of winning until the very end. But when the teams were just a few miles from the finish on Sunday afternoon, Dongfeng Race team flew in from the north to earn their first leg win. This 970-mile sprint from Gothenburg, Sweden to The Hague was enough to catapult the team to the top of the leaderboard to secure a dazzling win that kept everyone at the edge of their seats.
Team Brunel: The Comeback Kings
But it wouldn’t be doing this year’s Volvo Ocean Race justice to talk about making history without mentioning Team Brunel. Team Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking made his aspirations clear that he would have liked to win the race for the first time in eight tries. But although a shaky start and a fourth-place leg finish left the team in third place overall, their comeback remains one of the most epic the race has ever seen.
As Leg 6 concluded in Auckland, Team Brunel placed sixth on 20 points compared to MAPFRE’s 39. But when skipper Bouwe Bekking led Team Brunel to an unprecedented win over Mapfre after nearly 1,500 nautical miles of being bow-to-bow, the team fought through to glory – posting a 1-2-1-1 and collecting 45 out of a possible 47. Team Brunel’s unprecedented scoreline meant that there were three boats that started the final sprint into The Hague in an effective dead heat.
Their relentless spirit in the face of great adversity was noted by race fans all over the world and is worthy of committing to memory alongside Dongfeng Race Team’s inspirational win.
Congratulations to all teams that took part in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 and making it the most ambitious competition in the event’s illustrious history.