• 03-APR-2015

  • SOURCE: Volvo Ocean Race

"It's like being in a washing machine" - four boats could claim victory in Itajaí

"It’s like being in a washing machine" - four boats could claim victory in Itajaí
The enthralling, absorbing Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race will come to a climax on Sunday when any one of four boats could claim victory in Itajaí after three weeks and 6,776 nautical miles (nm) full of thrills and spills.

Overnight, there were no less than three lead changes with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) emerging in front after both Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA) and MAPFRE (Iker Martínez/ESP) had briefly taken over at the head of the fleet (see panel above).

Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) were by no means out of contention, either, just 14.1nm behind the leaders.

Behind them, Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) were doggedly ploughing through the south Atlantic, just under 700nm behind the leading pack with 1,229nm left to the finish in Itajaí (1240 UTC).

"It's like being in a washing machine," said Onboard Reporter, Anna-Lena Elled (SWE).

Victory would put Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in a strong position after joint leaders, Dongfeng Race Team, were forced to abandon the leg and continue under motor and sail to Itajaí for a new mast fit.

But the overall race would be very far from over and, in any case, MAPFRE, winners of Leg 4, were clearly in no mood to concede a metre to their Emirati rivals.

"We have spent a crazy night, I hope the last like it in this leg," wrote skipper Iker Martínez in a blog from his boat on Friday. "The wind increased* and veered so much that we ended up sailing at 20 knots against the waves, bouncing around.

It seemed that everything was going to break. A porthole flew off the boat and the only safe place was the bunk, squeezed against the hull because otherwise, as the boat jumped, you could be thrown anywhere."

He now expects a real sprint to the finish into south-east Brazil.

"The dice has rolled. Now it's down to a high-speed race for the last few miles, while we wait for the wind to veer starboard (right) again."

* Heavy squalls with up to 60 knots of wind were reported by the fleet.

The leading four are expected to finish on Sunday (April, 5) afternoon/evening according to the latest estimates from Race Control.