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VOR: Leg 3 Survived; Leg 4 Starts Today

With the fourth leg starting today, we recap the brutal third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race which drew to a close with all seven teams sailing into Melbourne, Australia over the Christmas holiday. At the front of the pack was the Spanish team, MAPFRE, which has now taken the last two leg victories and has jumped out to a commanding lead in the overall rankings after three legs. Arriving overnight on Christmas Eve, the Spanish syndicate was followed into port by perennial challengers Dongfeng, who finished second into Melbourne. Nursing the boat into port with issues in one of their canting keels’ hydraulic rams, the team still managed to hold off Vestas/11th Hour Racing and Team Brunel, who finished third and fourth, respectively.

It was all smiles aboard MAPFRE as the Spanish team sailed into Melbourne on Christmas Eve to claim another victory, now going back-to-back in Legs 2 and 3, and claiming a decisive points lead due to the double points that were up for grabs in Leg 3.

© 2017 Volvo Ocean Race

Leg 3 of this edition marked a return to the Southern Ocean for this part of the race, as previous editions had departed Cape Town and headed up toward Abu Dhabi, in the Middle East. With the seven boats leaving Cape Town on December 10 and stepping right into the demanding conditions of the Southern Ocean, Leg 3 seemed to take it’s toll on all of the teams. At the back of the pack, AkzoNobel ripped the mast track off their mast, and damaged their mainsail and battens during a jibe in 45 knots of wind. Unable to use the main for three days while effecting repairs, AkzoNobel bled hundreds of miles to her competitors — and a couple positions — which allowed both Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag and Turn the Tide on Plastic to move up a position into fifth and sixth, respectively.

Former VOR winning skipper (’11-’12 with Groupama 4) Franck Cammas has joined Team Dongfeng for Leg 4 after navigator Pascal Bidegorry sustained minor injuries in the Southern Ocean, including a broken rib. Cammas will bolster an already strong Dongfeng team who’s hoping to win the fourth leg, which sails into Hong Kong and will mark the homecoming for the Chinese/French team.

© 2017 Volvo Ocean Race

A few days after leaving Cape Town, the fleet was overcome by a massive Southern Ocean low-pressure system packing around 60 knots at its peak. With teams positioning themselves in radically different places for the storm — farther north for less breeze and farther south for more breeze — all seven eventually consolidated down south against the race’s imposed ice exclusion zones, setting up a thrilling Southern Ocean one-design regatta. Pre-race favorites Dongfeng and MAPFRE have clearly embraced their roles as the two teams to beat in this race and fought each other tooth and nail, often within sight of each other, for the majority of the leg. Jibing almost every single hour at one point, the two teams put in a Herculean effort to remain atop the heap during the third leg, with MAPFRE only moving into the lead late in the race.

Team AkzoNobel’s mast has been pulled in Melbourne so that the boat yard can effect a full repair to the mast and to the mast track before Tuesday’s Leg 4 start.

© 2017 Thirery Martinez Volvo Ocean Race

The fourth leg of the VOR will begins January 2 in Australia which means you can watch the start live in the US January 1st here. Leg 4 will take the teams 6,000 miles from Melbourne to Hong Kong. A new route to the VOR, this promises to be an incredibly challenging, complex and at times frustrating leg. Sailing up the east coast of Australia and then threading the needle through countless land masses, islands, reefs and islets spanning a number of different climate zones, Leg 4 promises to be incredibly complex from a navigational standpoint. AkzoNobel’s mast is out for repairs, while several crew and On-Board Reporters are being swapped out due to injury and fatigue after the brutality of Leg 3. We’ll check back in with the VOR once the fleet has departed Mebourne and is headed back to the tropics, the equator and finally Southeast Asia.

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Happy New Year’s Bay. The year on the Bay looks to be starting much as it ended.