Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing had the Volvo Ocean Race trophy within their grasp as the seven boats entered the final lap on Saturday heading for Gothenburg after a one-day ‘pit-stop’ in The Hague, reports the Khaleej Times.
The Emirati crew, skippered by Briton Ian Walker
, has an eight-point lead in the nine-month offshore sailing marathon and would need to finish last in the leg and accrue two penalty points to lose that advantage.
Since the re-start from The Hague pit-stop on Saturday, it has been an obstacle course of exclusion zones and variable winds for the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15. And now as the fleet approaches the northern tip of Denmark
, winds have been backing and diminishing.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi)-backed team cannot be caught, irrespective of the final leg result, after pulling out an eight-point lead on the fleet by the time the seven-boat fleet arrived in Lorient on Leg 8.
Only two teams out of seven, Team Alvimedica (Turkey/US) and Team Vestas Wind (Denmark), are yet to win a leg in the 38,739-nautical mile (nm), triennial event, which visits 11 ports in total and every continent.
Alvimedica, eager to maintain the lead they held at the re-start, was the first one to get into the transition around 1720 UTC.
“In all likeliness the fleet will compress there with a full race restart for the final sprint to Sweden
,” reports Amory Ross from Alvimedica. “It is obviously not what we want so we are working particularly hard to hang on to a passing weather front that may be able to carry us comfortably to the finish!”
The leading yachts are expected to reach the pit stop at The Hague on June 19 and finish in Gothenburg on June 22.