Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18

Stealth mode: does Dongfeng have a final trick to catch Hong Kong’s Scallywag in the Volvo Ocean Race?

The Chinese boat chooses to veil its position from the rest of the fleet for three updates as they head towards Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 January, 2018, 4:19pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 January, 2018, 10:44pm

China entrant Dongfeng Race Team went into stealth mode on Wednesday during the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race as Hong Kong’s Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag extended its lead over the fleet.

Race control updates positions roughly every six hours but allows each boat one day of stealth mode, which means captains can request their position is kept hidden from the rest of the fleet for three consecutive updates.

Skippers prefer to be hidden if they feel they can take advantage of a strategic manoeuvre that other boats do not know about and Dongfeng captain Charles Caudrelier chose Wednesday to make his move.

Dongfeng was third, more than 117 nautical miles behind Scallywag, in the last update late on Tuesday before they went into stealth mode.

The Chinese boat’s tactic is unlikely to involve catching Scallywag but more to stay ahead of overall leader Mapfre, of Spain. Mapfre was on 29 points at the end of the third leg from Cape Town to Melbourne, which they won – six points ahead of Dongfeng which finished second behind the Spaniards in the past two legs.

Meanwhile, Scallywag, which is on 11 points, continues to be the fastest boat in the fleet at around 16 knots at the 3pm Hong Kong time update.

The Hong Kong boat is favourite to win the leg given its 95nm lead over Vestas 11th Hour Racing but one more obstacle faces them as they approach the top of the Philippines, where the crew would need a final crucial gybe before catching the winds towards Hong Kong.

“Scallywag is the one to watch and it’s a case of when they gybe,” said race control.

“They got a big lead, one that they should hold all the way to the finish in Hong Kong. Skipper David Witt and navigator Libby Greenhalgh turned last place into first by taking a short cut into the trade winds and opening the door to hometown glory.”

Vestas was followed by Team AkzoNobel, Mapfre, Team Brunel and Turn The Tide on Plastic, which Dongfeng’s position unknown at 3pm.