Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is the winner of the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race, which ended on Monday, June 22nd in Gothenburg, Sweden. After nine legs and 38,739 nautical miles around the world, the team led by Ian Walker has asserted his two stage victories and an overall good performance to end in first place with 24 points.
The seven teams have managed to finish the competition, with the following qualification: 1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (UAE), 24 points. 2. Team Brunel (Netherlands), 29 points. 3. Race Team Dongfeng (China), 33 points. 4. Team Alvimedica (United States – Turkey), 34 points. 5. MAPFRE (Spain), 34 points. 6. Team SCA (Sweden), 51 points. 7. Team Vestas Wind (Denmark), 60 points. In case of a tie, as has happened this year between Team Alvimedica and MAPFRE, the best position is for the highest score in the In-Port series.
Leg 8 Start, Lisbon. Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race
We review some of the most impressive moments of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Team Vestas runs aground
Everything seemed perfect for the crew of Team Vestas Wind until on November 29th they ran aground on an atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The water went into the boat by the stern and the rudder blades were broken. Nobody was hurt, but being there was too dangerous because of the dark and the waves hitting the boat.
After contacting the Team Alvimedica, who was close to them, the direction of the Volvo Ocean Race and rescue services, they decided to leave the boat. Skipper Chris Nicholson encouraged his crew as he could, they took the survival kit and started walking at night along the coral reef with the water up to their knees. Finally they reached a safe place and there the Coast Guard picked up them and took them to St. Brandon, a group of islands of Mauritius.
Thereafter they began the work of getting the boat out of the atoll and bringing it to Genoa for repairing. The boat was “a mess. Almost everywhere, key structure is broken”, Captain Nicholson said . But perseverance and the desire to compete made them able to fix the boat in time for the start of the penultimate stage in Lisbon.
Team Vestas Wind has completed the Volvo Ocean Race. With 60 points and in the seventh and last place, but they finished it.
Pam delays the start
“It is life at the extreme, but every now and again, I think you have to have a little bit of prudence”. These were the words of the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper, Ian Walker, a few hours before the official start time of Leg 5. And a few hours before winds of 200km/h arriving in New Zealand.
The six boats competing, after Team Vestas running aground, should start stage 5 between Auckland and Itajai on March 15th, a Sunday. But Pam appeared, the strongest cyclone on record in the South Pacific over the past four decades, which claimed 24 lives in Vanuatu. All skippers agreed with the direction of the competition when they decided to delay the start for at least two days.
Finally the boats left New Zealand on Wednesday, March 18th, once the cyclone passed. 7,200 nautical miles where waiting them until Itajai, Brazil.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing was the winner in Itajai. David Ramos / Volvo Ocean Race
A broken mast
On March 30th, around midnight and 240 kilometers before passing Cape Horn, the mast of Dongfeng Race Team broke. The damaged part was the top section, above the third spreader. Fortunately, the crew did not suffer any injuries, but in those conditions it was almost impossible to finish the leg. The captain, the French Charles Caudrelier, decided to give up.
They reached Ushuaia on their own, but with the danger of having “four or five meters of mast flying over the head” as Caudrelier explained. But once there, they chose not to continue to Itajai, fix the damage and go back the the competition later. The abandonment meant eight points, two more than finishing the stage in the last position, and that could have been decisive. However, given the final classification -they ended third with 33 points, four under Team Brunel-, two points would have not changed this position.
39 days after, they took the start in Itajai and they win the stage in Newport.
The stage 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race was historic. After dominating most of the leg, Team SCA, all-female, won in Lorient, France. It was 25 years after the last victory of a women’s team. It was in 1990, when the Maiden led by Tracy Edwards won two legs in its class.
Team SCA. Anna-Lena Elled / Team SCA / Volvo Ocean Race
In the last 12 years, it has been the only women’s team taking part in this competition. At first it was thought that they would not be in the same level with more experienced crews, but their strategy and the victory in the eighth stage showed that a women’s team can be successful as well.
-header image: Marc Bow / Volvo Ocean Race