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Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18

China’s Dongfeng takes overall lead in Volvo Ocean Race; Hong Kong’s Scallywag trails fleet

The Charles Caudrelier-skippered boat finishes leg 10 from Newport to Cardiff in third place behind Dutch entries Brunel and AkzoNobel

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2018, 9:16pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2018, 11:24pm

Chinese-owned boat Dongfeng Race Team took over as overall leader of the Volvo Ocean Race after finishing third in leg nine from Newport, in the United States, to Cardiff, in Wales.

Dongfeng replace Spain’s Mapfre at the top of the leader board with Dutch boat Team Brunel emerging as challengers after they won the relatively short 3,700 nautical mile sprint from the east coast of America.

Another Dutch boat, Team AkzoNobel, was second with Vestas 11th Hour Racing fourth ahead of Mapfre and Turn the Tide on Plastic. Hong Kong's Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag had yet to complete the race as of last night (Hong Kong time), still more than 70 miles from the finish line.

“It’s nice, but it’s a very small lead to Mapfre and now Brunel as well who are making a fantastic comeback,” said Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier, who has taken the boat to six podium finishes in nine races. “So it’s going to be interesting for fans to follow as the race is far from finished. The level is very even and it’s a big fight for every place. We would have preferred an easier finish.”

With two short legs remaining in the 11-leg around the world race, Dongfeng lead on 60 points, one ahead of Mapfre with Brunel third on 57.

They are followed by AkzoNobel (48 points), Vestas (36), Scallywag (projected 29) and Plastic (26).

Since leg six ending in Auckland, Bouwe Bekking’s Brunel has posted 1-2-1 finishes, including important wins on the final two double-point scoring legs, to move from also-ran status to holding down a firm grip on a podium position with an eye on the top spot.

“We’re very happy with the result – to beat the two red boats [Dongfeng and Mapfre] was the objective,” Bekking said. “Winning of course is nice, as well as to get the bonus point and then a nice fight to beat AkzoNobel in the end as well, so we’re a happy team.

“But the aim is to keep looking forward. We’ve closed the gap to Mapfre and Dongfeng and victory remains our main objective.”

Scallywag was expected to finish overnight.

The penultimate sector of the nine-month race is the 1,300-mile leg 10 from Cardiff to Gothenburg, in Sweden, which starts on June 10. The final leg is 700 miles from Gothenburg to The Hague starting on June 21.