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Three Teams Tied Going into VOR Finish

Another stunning performance by Bouwe Bekking’s Team Brunel has seen the Dutch entry now pull dead even with perennial race leaders MAPFRE and Dongfeng atop the leaderboard of the Volvo Ocean Race, with just one more leg to be sailed. Many race followers will remember that Brunel — who had high expectations at the start of the event — performed far below expectations in the first half of this Volvo Ocean Race. Sailing into Auckland at the conclusion of Leg 6, Bekking’s team sat in sixth place with just 20 points compared to then race leader MAPFRE’s score of 39.

Team Brunel rockets into Gothenburg, Sweden, sporting a full mainsail and triple-headsail rig, perhaps offering a clue as to how they had an apparent and noticeable speed advantage in a variety of reaching angles during Leg 10.

© 2018 Jesus Renedo / Volvo Ocean Race

In what has become typical of the race since switching to the one-design Volvo 65 platform, the nearly 1,500-mile Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales, to Gothenburg, Sweden, was won by another razor-thin margin, with Brunel leading MAPFRE to the barn by less than two minutes. Once clear of the northern tip of Scotland, the fleet was forced to put the bow up a few degrees and blast across the North Sea en route to the finish in Sweden. In these tight-reaching conditions, MAPFRE led over Dongfeng and Brunel before the Dutch boat simply found another gear and overhauled both her rivals to create this unprecedented scenario of three teams being tied with 65 points apiece headed into the final leg.

The fleet sailed out of Cardiff, Wales, in very light breeze before hooking into a depression west of Ireland and rocketing toward the north.

© 2018 Volvo Ocean Race

In what is primed to be the closest and most exciting finish in Volvo Ocean Race history, the fleet will begin the short 700-mile sprint from Gothenburg, Sweden, to The Hague, in the Netherlands, on Thursday, June 21, with Brunel and MAPFRE tied at 65 points to Dongfeng’s 64 points. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Dongfeng is expected to pick up an additional bonus point for "fastest elapsed time" around the world, effectively putting all three teams at 65 points. In a potential tie-breaker scenario — which now seems unlikely — MAPFRE’s lead in the in-port racing would come into play.

This helicopter shot shows just how close the racing was as the two leaders descended upon Gothenburg, Sweden, in a strong frontal breeze and cloudy skies. In the end, Brunel beat MAPFRE by just 1 minute and 55 seconds after nearly 1,500 miles of racing.

© 2018 Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

As this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race draws to a close, the future of the race includes a handful of question marks, as the race has officially been sold by Volvo Cars to Atlantic Ocean Racing Spain, a group led by several multi-time VOR veterans. The next race will begin in three years in 2021, and initial rumors suggest that it could include two divisions, including the venerable one-design Volvo 65 and IMOCA 60’s.

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