Burling’s team dodge whale to stay in contest
A close call with a whale almost derailed Peter Burling’s Team Brunel in their bid to stay in the hunt for the Volvo Ocean Race title.
On the final double-points leg of the race, Brunel were first across the finish line in Cardiff to bag a maximum 15 points and remain in the contest. But things might have ended much worse.
With Burling at the helm, the crew spotted a whale about half a boat-length from their vessel. The Kiwi remained cool at the wheel, broaching the yacht to steer clear of the animal.
“It was one of those things that, if it was night time or at a worse time visibility-wise, we might not have seen it, so we were pretty fortunate to manage to avoid it,” Burling said.
Going on to win the leg, Brunel moved within three points of competition leaders DongFeng Race Team, and two points behind Blair Tuke’s MAPFRE in second. DongFeng will more than likely have an extra point added at the end of the race for having the fastest elapsed time. They’re currently about 18 hours ahead of Brunel.
When the fleet arrived in Auckland earlier in the year at the halfway point of the race, Brunel challenging for the overall win looked unlikely. Last into Auckland, Brunel sat on 20 points, 17 behind then-leading crew MAPFRE.
But with wins on the final two double-points legs and a secondplaced finish on leg eight, Brunel have stormed back into the conversation.
“It’s been really good for us as a team to get a couple of good legs which carry a lot of points. The Southern Ocean leg from New Zealand to Brazil, that was a big moving leg for us, and to win the last double-points leg in the transatlantic was pretty much the only way we could stay in the race.
“It’s really cool to actually have a chance in these last two legs to push for the front.”
With the race still in the balance, Burling took a moment to reflect on the 43,350 nautical miles (80,284km) covered so far in the race and said while there had been plenty of impressive moments on his journey, the amount of plastic in the water was quite a sad sight.
“It’s definitely a pretty interesting experience sailing around the world, and it’s something that makes the world seem a lot smaller than you’d think it is when you’re flying over it.”
With just 2000nm (3704km) remaining in the race, the three teams at the top were set to battle for the title over two sprint legs. The fleet depart Cardiff today to make the 1300nm (2407km) journey to Gothenburg, Sweden, before sailing the final 700nm (1296km) to the Hague.