Walker inches to thrilling victory
- Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing win by just 12 minutes
- Dongfeng Race Team chase Azzam to the finish
- Follow the race all the way on our app
ALICANTE, Spain, Nov 5 – Ian Walker (GBR) and his Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew have barely snatched a wink of sleep for nearly 48 hours, but they will surely be celebrating deep into the night after an epic first leg victory in the Volvo Ocean Race on Wednesday.
There have been many close finishes in the 41-year history of the event, but few will have been quite so tense for the victors, who have been feeling the hot breath of Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) down their necks for the best part of a week in the 6,487-nautical mile (nm) stage.
Even with the finish under Table Mountain in Cape Town in sight 2nm away, Walker could not relax, with wind in perilously short supply and the Chinese boat able to close again before Azzam finally claimed the hardest fought of victories.
They crossed the line at 1510 UTC, just 12 minutes before Dongfeng, after 25 days, three hours and 10 minutes of sailing.
The win is a personal triumph for 44-year-old Walker. The Briton was forced to motor miserably back into Alicante on the first night of the opening leg in 2011-12 after a Mediterranean storm dismasted his boat.
This time, he and the crew have barely made an error since setting out with the rest of the fleet on October 11 from Alicante, and their Volvo Ocean 65 has withstood everything that the Med and the Atlantic could throw at them.
But they still could not shake off Caudrelier’s crew, who tried all manner of manoeuvres, some under the cover of darkness, to get the better of the front-runners.
Walker, red-eyed after sleep deprivation for so long, was finally able to celebrate surely one of the sweetest wins of a career, which also includes two Olympic silver medals.
"It's quite emotional actually,” Walker told Race HQ, minutes after crossing the line.
"I didn't think I would be - but that last couple of hours, they threw everything at us," he smiled, "We've had people ride on our heels for the last 10 days or so. I must congratulate Dongfeng, an absolutely fantastic performance."
In contrast, Caudrelier looked like he had thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the chase and the opportunity to prove a point to those who doubted that his crew, that included two Chinese rookies, could seriously compete at the front of the fleet.
Dongfeng Race Team’s second place was all the more remarkable since twice their progress was slowed through damage to the boat; first through a smashed rudder and then through a shattered padeye, which caused a domino-effect of damage including a broken wheel.
Repeatedly over the past week, they have nibbled away at Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s lead, closing to within three nm shortly after daybreak on Wednesday.
But Walker and his team had sailed too well for too long to give victory away after such a struggle, and the crowd packing Cape Town’s famous V&A Waterfront gave them a reception they surely will never forget.
For the rest of the fleet, it’s now a battle for the minor places and equally hard-won points. Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) should take third spot later on Wednesday with Team Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) looking good for fourth.
Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) are expected to be too far ahead to be caught in fifth, but MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) and Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) could yet have a big tussle for sixth and seventh spots before their expected arrival in Cape Town on Friday.
Volvo Cars reveals new V60 Cross Country
All-road, all-weather capability and rugged design
V60 sporty driving feel with added ‘go-anywhere’ capability
Extends Volvo’s acclaimed Cross Country product line-up
Important product for North American growth plan
Volvo Cars will unveil the long-awaited V60 Cross Country at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show later this month.
“We are delighted to add the third true Cross Country model to our product portfolio. The successful combination of dynamic styling and rugged capability places the V60 Cross Country in a class of its own,” said Lex Kerssemakers, Senior Vice President Product Strategy and Vehicle Line Management at Volvo Cars.
The Cross Country brand has a long and distinguished heritage. Volvo Cars was the first premium brand to offer increased all-road capability and styling on its wagons as far back as 1997 when it introduced the V70 Cross Country, creating a whole new type of car experience that has since captured the imagination of the motoring public.
Reflecting Volvo’s Scandinavian heritage and love of nature and adventure, the V60 Cross Country brings together the best of both worlds – a sporty, connected yet comfortable driving experience with the freedom to explore new horizons.
“With ground clearance increased 65mm (2.6 inches) compared to the V60, the Cross Country’s sturdy construction offers unparalleled control on and off the beaten track, coupled with an enhanced sporty driving experience thanks to torque vectoring technology and corner traction control. The V60 Cross Country really is a getaway car – enabling an adventurous lifestyle in pure rugged form,” said Lex Kerssemakers.
Offering new Cross Country 18” and 19” wheels, the V60 Cross Country comes with high profile tires, adding comfort and off-road aesthetics, reducing road noise and providing added wheel protection whether climbing curbs or negotiating rocky roads.
The V60 Cross Country also comes standard with Hill Descent Control, which controls the car's speed automatically when driving down steep inclines. The Hill Descent Control function makes it possible for the driver to focus completely on driving when descending steep hills. The driver can control the speed with the brake pedal or the accelerator when Hill Descent Control is activated.
Rugged individualist design
Central to the Cross Country concept is the expression of go-anywhere capability and rugged design. It caters to those who have an active lifestyle, favoring the dirt road over the paved, handling either with ease. This is manifested in the V60 Cross Country through rugged design cues that enhance the adventurous nature of the car. With increased ground clearance, skid plates front and rear, side scuff plates and fender extenders, the V60 Cross Country conveys an imposing, muscular presence that underlies its capable nature, while integrated tailpipes reflect its sporty side. To complement the capable exterior styling, sports seats in black leather with distinctive brown stitching will be available from launch, while two new two-tone leather upholsteries will be offered in early 2015.
The US and Canada will get the first V60 Cross Country cars, and they will launch with Volvo’s five-cylinder 250 hp gasoline engine with All-Wheel Drive coupled to an automatic transmission delivering a highly competitive 23 mpg.
Dongfeng's broken rudder setback
- 'Violent impact' halts leaders in their tracks
- Follow the race all the way with our new app
- Sail your own race with our Official Game
ALICANTE, Spain, Oct 18 – Dongfeng Race Team lost the lead in the Volvo Ocean Race early on Saturday after the boat hit an unidentified object and broke their rudder.
They lost the lead but replaced the decimated part and they were soon back sailing at 20 knots.
The problem enabled Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to take the lead but the rest of the fleet were still hot on their heels.
The Chinese team’s problems began at 0210 UTC when a ‘violent impact’ hit the boat.
Dongfeng’s onboard reporter Yann Riou picks up the story: “We had two options, installing the emergency rudder or removing what was left of the old rudder and putting the new one in place. We decided to go for the second option.
“Thomas (Rouxel) put the diving suit on. He jumped into the water… removed what was left from the old rudder (not much) and we put the new one in place.
“We are all disappointed… it does not look very fair but there’s nothing to do about this.”
It has not been plain sailing for Ian Walker’s Abu Dhabi crew either. They reported narrowly missing a net yesterday afternoon but the winds were so light that they were able to take avoiding action.
Team Brunel and Team SCA were not so lucky and were held up briefly after debris caught in their keels.
The Dutch boat even had to send a swimmer into the water to dive down to remove a strip of rubber from their keel.
The women’s team also showed an irregular track and reported running into a fishing net, leading to more lost time behind the rest of the fleet who are now some 50 miles ahead of them.
The seven-strong fleet were expected to arrive in Cape Town in the first leg from Alicante at the beginning of November but their estimated arrival may be delayed after light winds in the Atlantic held up their progress.