Press

Bad luck bites for MAPFRE, Brunel and Turn the Tide on Plastic

24 January 2018 - News - Press

Overall Race leaders MAPFRE finished fifth into Hong Kong on Leg 4 in a surprise result on Saturday morning.

It was the first time that the Spanish team has finished off the podium in the 2017-18 edition, and means that their overall lead is cut to four points after four legs.

Skipper Xabi Fernández admitted that the result was far from ideal, but pin points a bit of bad luck in the Doldrums as the key reason his crew finished down the rankings into Asia.

"It was very hard crossing the Equator," he says. "Everyone onboard has been through there a lot of times, but this was the hardest, and the slowest. It took a long time to get moving.

"Looking back, we'd do some things a bit differently, and we might be in a different position. But there's nothing you can do when a big cloud like that comes on top of you, and the others move early. I wouldn't blame bad luck, but of course it didn't help us."

MAPFRE has dominated the first few months of the 2017-18 race, but the emergence of other teams such as Scallywag and AkzoNobel shows that the win is still far from assured.

"There are very good crews on all the boats, and sometimes it takes some time to tune in. I'm very happy for Scallywag that they've won into their home port, and for us it was very important that they held the lead and didn't get beaten by Dongfeng."

He continues: "The last leg was hard and the next one will be very hard as well. There are a lot of important points up for grabs, so we'll work hard and be ready for the next leg."

Following MAPFRE into Hong Kong was Team Brunel, led by Bouwe Bekking and featuring a host of new crew who joined the yellow boat in Melbourne.

That result leaves the Dutch campaign in fifth place overall, and a disappointed Bekking admitted on the dock that a speed gap is frustrating his boat.

"We can see that in high-speed areas – 18-19 knots – we're not fast enough," he said. "We don't know where the issue is, and we have to look again at how we can improve in those areas, because we're missing the train right now and that's our achilles heel.

"Everyone was a bit frustrated because up to the Solomans was a dream ride, and then the light air came. You know it can happen on a leg like this, and this time we got bitten badly.

On local team Scallywag's home win, he said: "You could clearly see a strategy from most of the boats that wanted to go north. I think Scallywag were so far behind that they just pointed at the finish line and it paid off for them. None of the routing showed that was the way to go – but hats off to them, they took the gamble and it paid off, and that's just how yacht racing goes."

Turn the Tide on Plastic followed Brunel into Hong Kong after 18 days 1 hour and 39 minutes at sea, and after leading the fleet into the Doldrums, skipper Dee Caffari was upbeat on the dock.

"It was a really tough leg, and a tough way to finish," she said. "We were good this leg, but we weren't lucky – some of the others were good and lucky. 

"It shows real fortitude and resilience to keep your head up when you've been kicked in the teeth, and these guys did that this leg. I'm very impressed."

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