Volvo Ocean Race: Decisive win for "MAPFRE", winners in New Zealand
The Spanish boat from the Real Club Naútico de Sanxenxo, skippered by Olympic Champion Xabi Fernández wins the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, crossing the finish line in Auckland at 8:31 UTC
Auckland (New Zealand), 28th February 2015
The City of Sails lived up to its name as hundreds of sailing fans in Auckland came out along the shores and on the water to receive the winners of the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. The Spanish boat “MAPFRE” skippered by twice Olympic medallist Xabi Fernandez, crossed the finish line at 22.31 h local time after sailing the more than 5264 miles from China to New Zealand in 20 days, 2 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds.
MAPFRE won the leg with an advantage of 4 minutes and 25 seconds over Abu Dhabi and 8 minutes and 2 seconds ahead of Dongfeng, second and third place respectively.
Once on the arrival dock the setbacks which had plagued the team throughout the leg (broken outriggers, injured crew Willy Altadill’s hand, and four days almost completely incommunicado) had seemingly vanished, viewed as little stumbles which the team had more than compensated with their victory in Auckland.
“After three legs where we have been working on our route, but which was also proving pretty tough, we really needed this result. It was the podium we were after come what may, so having won the leg is even better,” declared an absolutely delighted Xavi Fernández, skipper of MAPFRE, in replacement of Iker Martínez (who will arrive in Auckland on the 8th March).
A simply breathtaking final!
If the last few days of racing were tight, the last 30 hours were an out-and-out battle.
“The crew has done a wonderful job particularly Jean Luc, and especially in the last 36 hours,” commented Rafa Trujillo.
In the last week MAPFRE remained further east than the rest of the fleet, and in the words of navigator Jean Luc Nélias it was definitive to the last seven days of racing,
“Trying to stay to the east has been very difficult. The boats to the west were much faster so everything was decided on the last night.”
It was a decision which yielded its returns and at 16.00 h UTC on Friday the Spanish team swiped first place from Abu Dhabi, battling hard to stay ahead of them along the east coast of New Zealand until their arrival in Auckland.
“We had been leading for little over 24 hours but were just one mile ahead of two boats that we know are very fast,” explained Cantabria-born Ñeti Cuervas-Mons.
“The final has been incredibly tight, with little wind and the other boats putting pressure on us, and it wasn’t until the very last five minutes that we knew we were going to win the leg. The whole team has worked for it. Being first into New Zealand is incredible and for me it’s the second time (in the last edition with Groupama, the winning boat for the same leg) so I’m really enjoying this moment, and even more than the first time,” shared a delighted Jean Luc Nelias.
An undeniably well-deserved win.
Photo : © Ainhoa Sánchez / Volvo Ocean Race