Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18

‘We can do something special’: Hong Kong’s Scallywag takes second in thrilling Volvo Ocean Race battle with AkzoNobel

David Witt and his crew are now serious contenders for overall honours after their win in Hong Kong and a runner-up place in the sixth leg to Auckland

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 February, 2018, 9:29pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 February, 2018, 9:21pm

Hong Kong’s Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag earned second place in the sixth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race after one of the most exciting finishes in the competition’s history, sailing into Auckland, New Zealand last night just two minutes behind winner Team AkzoNobel.

In what was effectively a match race between the two leaders, the lead changed hands multiple times over the last 50 nautical miles with the Dutch boat narrowly managing to hold off a determined David Witt and his crew.

It was another brilliant performance from Scallywag, who had an emotional victory in the fourth leg from Melbourne to Hong Kong in January after coming back from almost 100 nautical miles behind.

Witt and his team performed a similar turnaround after leaving Hong Kong on February 7 on their 6,000-nm journey and nearly pulled off another miracle.

“Our guys never give up. We had our chances but AkzoNobel were just a bit too good,” said Witt soon after crossing the finish line. “They had their chances and took them and that’s how it goes.

“We put a lot of pressure on them as we could but they stood strong and deserved the win. And it’s good that they have won.

“We have come a long way since leg one. The decision-making process between myself and [navigator] Libby [Greenhalgh] is working quite well and we have a chance of doing something special in this race.”

Scallywag, which was a late entry into the famous round-the-world race, was among the backmarkers before the fleet left Melbourne in early January but after a first and a second place in two trips across the equator they are now among the favourites.

Overall leader Mapfre was third to cross the line ahead of China’s Dongfeng Race Team and Turn the Tide on Plastic, which was in third place for much of the race before being caught on the final stretch.

AkzoNobel, which also struggled in the early legs, was always going be among the top two after they and Scallywag went north after Taiwan and then staged an incredible comeback to catch up with the fleet and eventually take the lead.

They completed the leg in 20 days, nine hours, 17 minutes and 26 seconds.

“It’s been a 7,000-mile match race between us and Scallywag,” said AkzoNobel skipper Simeon Tienpont. “Basically all the way from Hong Kong. I’ve never sailed a race like this in my life.

“The last 16 days we were neck and neck, we have huge respect for those guys, they never stopped fighting and we never stopped defending. I’m proud of the crew, they never flinched.”

It’s the first leg win for Team AkzoNobel and earns them eight points. Scallywag’s seven points gives them 26 points for third place overall. Mapfre are on 39 with Dongfeng on 34.