The New Zealand Herald
Burling’s boat back in Volvo title contention
Peter Burling left Auckland last month with his Team Brunel 19 points off the Volvo Ocean Race lead.
Heading into the most important leg, from Auckland to Itajai, the yellow boat needed a good result to stay in contention. That’s just what they got. After a disappointing leg from Hong Kong to Auckland, Brunel had a fine run through the unforgiving Southern Ocean to pick up the maximum 16 points on offer in leg seven — moving from sixth to third on 36 points, 10 off the lead.
“It’s a bit of a shame the results of the last couple of legs couldn’t mean the result on this leg would put us higher than we are,” Burling said. “But we’re really happy to finally get a result on the board that we feel like we deserve as a team. To be able to put together a complete performance in a leg is pretty pleasing.”
The longest leg of the race at 7600 nautical miles (14,075km), Brunel finished in 16 days, three hours and 45 minutes — just 14 minutes ahead of DongFeng Race Team, who provided a late challenge to the finish line.
It was always expected from one of the two high-flying red boats, Burling said. Heading into the leg, DongFeng and MAPFRE had been battling for the overall lead.
“It was just a matter of staying between them and the finish line, and making sure we did all the little things well. I thought we really executed that well as a team.”
DongFeng’s second-place finish was enough to lift them to the top of the standings after MAPFRE had to take a pit-stop to repair damage.
“It was a bit of an adventure, but it wasn’t great for our overall position in the race,” MAPFRE’s Blair Tuke said.
With Brunel back in contention for the lead, with one double-points leg remaining, Burling and Tuke were in with a chance to claim the unprecedented triple crown of sailing: winning Olympic gold, the America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race.
“We’re pretty optimistic about our chances for the rest of the race,” Tuke said. “We’re in the fight, it’s just all about how we finish the race now.”