Burl­ing’s team dodge whale to stay in con­test

Whanganui Chronicle - - Sport -

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.

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