15 December 2014: Race fans were treated to yet another agonisingly close finale as Team Brunel snatched a 16-minute victory from Team Dongfeng Racing in Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The winning team, skippered by Bouwe Bekking, found an extra surge of wind power to sweep past Charles Caudrelier’s crew to the finish at Abu Dhabi – the second time the Chinese team have been pipped to the post.
The teams’ Onboard Reporters were able to thrill fans around the world as video footage was streamed from the boats to the race’s media centre via Inmarsat satellite communications.
In Leg One, Team Dongfeng Racing was beaten by Team Abu Dhabi by just 12 minutes. This time Team Abu Dhabi arrived three hours later to take third place, followed by MAPRE, Team Alvimedica and Team SCA, who had travelled an incident-packed 5,200 nautical miles.
Halfway through Leg 2, Team Vestas Wind’s boat crashed into a shark-riddled reef off Mauritius at night time. As the drama unfolded, OBR Brian Caplin captured footage of the immediate aftermath of the crash, later reporting how the Indian Ocean’s beauty was in stark contrast to the dangers lurking beneath.
Before they left Cape Town in 40 knots of wind, the teams had already been warned of a possible cyclone. They then skirted an iceberg exclusion zone in the Southern Ocean, dodged a tropical depression and had to keep clear of the Indian Ocean exclusion zone in case of pirates.
As Bekking sailed into Abu Dhabi port, he said: “It is a good feeling. 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.”
There is some consolation for Team Dongfeng though – they are now neck and neck with Team Brunel and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing with four points each. However, Team Brunel are ranked above both teams because of their recent victory.
While Team Vestas Wind decide on whether to re-enter the race with a new boat, all the teams are now enjoying a well-earned three-week rest with their families at the UEA port, which is staging entertainment and various attractions.
Among those is a cross section of a Volvo Ocean 65 race boat which shows how Inmarsat’s equipment is being used to deliver safety services, vessel tracking capabilities, audio and video communications and social media access, with visitors able to pose for a photo ‘onboard’.
On New Year’s Day, Inmarsat will announce the winner of the second Onboard Reporter award, presented to the OBR who has produced the most compelling media content throughout the leg.
Then on January 2 the teams will take part in the Abu Dhabi in-port race, before setting sail on the 4,670-nautical mile Leg 3 to Sanya, China the following day.