Pre-start manoeuvering was made trickier than usual because of the large number of spectator craft on the water off Penarth – about 100 of them.

The Dongfeng Race Team has won the prestige Sky Ocean Rescue “In-Port” Race held this afternoon off Penarth.

The race had been timed to coincide with high tide and slack water so that the big boats  would not have  to contend with the Bristol Channel’s notoriously strong  tidal streams or risk going aground.

In preparation for the race the huge intlatable “Sky Ocean Rescue Race” marker buoys were taken out to sea through the Barrage locks and placed in position to mark the race course.They – and others – marked either side of the “gates” through which the 7 competing yachts would have to sail during the race .All 3 Locks were in constant use with well over 100 vessels passing through.(Photo John Clark)

The chartered luxury passenger-carrying tug “Holland” setting out from Cardiff taking 120 special guests and VIPs  to see the racing action at close quarters (Photo John Clark)

Caught up in the pre-start action  – and with a grandstand view of it all – were  both of the  Penarth based Challenge Wales training yachts

There were about 100 spectator craft – packed with sailing enthusiasts – at all the strategic  points around the tight course of today’s “In Port”  race – which is a preliminary to Sunday’s start of the next leg of the Volvo Ocean Race

The In-Port Race  provides an opportunity for  the crews of all 7 of the identical participating yachts to get back up to speed after taking a few days off .  There was also a not-insignificant amount of pride and team honour at stake.

In pre-start manoeuvering – a stage at which many sailing events are won or lost – Vestas 11th Hour Racing mis-timed her approach to the starting line

SungHung Scallywag  tacks to bear away from the spectator tug Holland

Before the “starting gun” (actually a rather disappointing sounding horn)  SungHung Scallywag (with the sail bearing the Regus logo gave spectators aboard Holland a close up view of the action on her decks as she moved onto a port tack.

They’re off! AkzoNobel took an early lead and held it for most of the race but was to be outwitted by Dongfeng on the last lap

AkzoNobel was the first to cross the line after the start gun and held her place for the first two laps of the race with Brunel just astern of her.

Dongfeng – on the starboard tack forces Brunel to alter course but AkzoNobel (third boat from the left) was the first to reach the yellow “gate” markers with Dongfeng taking-up second place

Dongfeng was in third place but then split away from the leading pair and returned on the starboard tack – giving her right of way .  This didn’t bother AkzoNobel which held onto her lead but the manmouever forced Brunel to give way and she lost ground – putting Dongfeng in second place

Spectators crowded onto the Barrage at Penarth to watch the action – but it was all happening so far away good binoculars and a basic knowledge of yacht racing were essential to make much sense of what was going on  (Photo John Clark)

When the yachts  converged again later in the race  Dongfeng was coming up rapidly astern of AkzoNobel.

A 10 knot breeze provided plenty of power for the big yachts to put on impressive turns of speed  but it was Dongfeng which was in the “clean” air to windward.

Gotcha! Dongfeng goes out in front and AkzoNobel starts dropping back to finish 4th

Not long afterwards Dongfeng was in a position to tack again directly ahead of AkzoNobel this time – and hang on to her lead all the way to the finish line .

Spectators crowded onto the Penarth Head Viewing platform to watch the race from the edge of the cliffHundreds of spectators had opted to watch the race from Penarth rather from Cardiff .

Despite doubts about safety, the Penarth Head Viewing Platform on the cliff edge at Penarth Head was packed to capacity and scores more people were straining to see the race from the grassy area of  Penarth Head Park itself.

Cameras and binoculars were trained out to sea from the vantage point of the Penarth Head Viewing Platform

Some spectators brought picnics with them to make a day of it – and despite an overcast start, the sun came out before the winning boat Dongfeng crossed the finishing line ahead of “MAPFRE” & “Brunel” [ the latter being the yacht which had won the 9th leg of the Volvo Round-the-World Ocean Race from Newport Rhode Island to Lavernock last week]. After a gallant performance AkzoNobel finished  in fourth place.

The crew of Dongfeng looked quietly pleased with the result of their afternoon’s efforts

Unsurprisingly Dongfeng’s winning skipper Charles Caudrelier said  “for the team this is good for our morale ahead of the next two legs.” [ of the main Volvo Ocean Race] 

Leg 10 of the Volvo Ocean Race starts at 16:00 on Sunday afternoon from a position close to where the yachts were racing today off  Penarth . The next stop is Gothenburg.


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  1. Slippery Slope says:

    That photo of them all rammed onto the ‘viewing platform’.

  2. Andrew Worsley says:

    Some people are like zombies the viewing platform is unstable and yet they chose to shun any warnings . If anything had occurred it would have been entirely their own fault .

  3. Chris says:

    So the viewing platform has been put to good use, after all the controversy over building it.

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