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Volvo Leaders Finish 3 Minutes Apart

Regardless of sea conditions, spray in the face is nearly constant aboard VO 65s. Here, Dongfeng Race Team is on its way to a first place finish at Newport. 

© 2015 Sam Greenfield / Dongfeng Race Team / VOR

Maintaining their previously unthinkable level of parity and competition, the Volvo Ocean Race’s fleet has just come storming into Newport, Rhode Island with the leaders again separated by just three minutes after 17 days of close and intense racing from Brazil.

Now more than 80% of the way into their epic round-the-world journey that comprises nine legs (and one pit stop) and nearly 40,000 miles of sailing, the fleet of six VO 65s will again be torn apart and meticulously prepared for the notoriously windy and gear-busting 2,800 nm transatlantic passage from Newport to Lisbon, Portugal, where the rebuilt Team Vestas Wind will rejoin the fleet after her now-infamous grounding in the South Indian Ocean during Leg 2.

Framed by a splendid rainbow, ‘SIFI’ Fisher and ‘Chuny’ Bermudez of Abu Dhabi Racing grind in a reef during the long trip north to Newport. 

© 2015 Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Racing / VOR

Overall race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are doing everything they can to seal the deal and win this twelfth edition of the race, but to do so they’ll have to fend off a rejuvenated Dongfeng Race Team that is coming on strong after a Leg 5 dismasting. Barely making it to the start line and plagued by watermaker issues during the early stages of Leg 6 (Brazil to Newport), the Franco-Chinese team persevered to overcome their problems and made multiple gutsy tactical calls that led them to nip Abu Dhabi at the finish line in Newport by an incredibly small gap of three minutes — once again setting up a close battle during the event’s final three legs, with the ultimate finish in Sweden (Leg 9).

Old meets new on the Newport docks, as the fleet of VO 65s has arrived. Now gussied up to meet the public, you’d never know they just raced 5,000 miles from Brazil. 

© 2015 Ainhoa Sanchez / Volvo Ocean Race

Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier was a member of the Groupama team that came from behind to win the 2011-12 edition of the race, having also dismasted on Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajai. This time, their Leg 6 victory put their championship hopes back in focus. Team Brunel and MAPFRE finished third and fourth, roughly an hour behind the front two, while Alvimedica came in four hours later to finish fifth, with the ladies of Team SCA rounding out the fleet in sixth.

Leg 7 from Newport, Rhode Island to Lisbon, Portugal begins on May 17 with in-port racing the day before. Find much more on the official website.

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