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.
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
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.