Leg 9, Day 5: “Very, very wet…”

In the latest video from on board Dongfeng – now on her fifth day of a thrilling Leg 9 from Newport, Rhode Island to Cardiff – you can see two things: the boat is moving super-fast as she heads eastwards and the crew is getting drenched in cold Atlantic salt water.

This is because the fleet is now riding a classic North Atlantic depression which is producing strong winds from the south. Dongfeng is blasting along on a broad starboard reach under grey skies.

The crew are back in full foul weather gear with visors to protect their eyes from the stinging impact of water cascading off the bow. As Dutch sailor Carolijn Brouwer put it: “It’s very, very wet!”

This is turning into a classic transatlantic contest with the two Dutch boats, Team AkzoNobel and Team Brunel, leading and to leeward of the chasing pack and both setting new 24-hour record distances for Volvo Ocean 65s.

The latest is by Simeon Tienpont’s crew on AkzoNobel who managed to sail 588.10 nautical miles in a day, which is just 8.5 miles short of the outright Volvo Ocean Race record set by Ericsson in 2008.

As far as the leg ranking is concerned, Dongfeng is now in fourth place, 59 miles behind Team AkzoNobel with 1,230 miles still to sail to Cardiff. But the key thing is that she is still ahead of her main race rival, MAPFRE, which is lying in sixth position and is almost 40 miles astern of the Chinese-flagged crew.

The weather is likely to moderate in the next day or so and the endgame for this double-point stage will take place in much lighter conditions than the fleet is currently experiencing. Uppermost in the minds of Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier and navigator Pascal Bidegorry will be to ensure they keep MAPFRE behind them all the way to the finish at Cardiff on Monday.

Leg 9 position report at 08:15:00 UTC:

1. Team AkzoNobel. DTF: 1,117nm
2. Team Brunel. DTL: 8.8nm
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing. DTL: 49.3nm
4. Dongfeng Race Team. DTL: 61.2nm
5. Turn the Tide on Plastic. DTL: 93.5nm
6. MAPFRE. DTL: 99.2nm
7. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. DTL: 122.5nm