Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag were on the brink of an historic victory in Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Friday as they looked forward to reeling off the final few miles to Hong Kong. Dave Witt’s team will become the first Hong Kong-flagged team ever to win a leg of the Volvo Ocean Race if they can hang on to their sizeable lead for a few more hours.
The triumph will be all the more special as it is the first time Hong Kong has ever featured as a stopover in the Volvo Ocean Race, guaranteeing Scallywag will arrive home as conquering heroes.
At 1300 UTC Scallywag were inside 70 nautical miles of the finish line, and still blasting along at speeds of more than 22 knots making them the quickest in the fleet.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing, their closest rivals, were still nearly 50 miles astern, all but guaranteeing Scallywag the win providing they don’t suffer any major mishaps in the final few hours.
Scallywag’s advantage is expected to shrink temporarily as they hit light winds directly off the Hong Kong coast, while chasers Vestas 11th Hour Racing and third-placed Dongfeng Race Team enjoy stronger breeze.
However it is highly unlikely that duo will get close enough to provide any real challenge for the top spot, and they too will have to navigate through the same light and fickle breeze once they get closer to land.
Far more likely is a robust tussle for second place between Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Dongfeng, with only 15 miles splitting them.
Sixty miles behind Dongfeng but 70 ahead of MAPFRE, team Akzonobel are looking good for fourth place, a big boost for the crew following their seventh-place finish in Leg 3.
Overall race leader MAPFRE leads the back trio with a 40-mile jump on Team Brunel and 45 miles on Turn the Tide on Plastic.
With the end of Leg 4 finally in sight after 17 days at sea, Dee Caffari, skipper of Turn the Tide, said she couldn’t be more proud of her young crew.
“This leg has had its ups and downs and has been a true test of mental resilience and fortitude,” she said. “My team have demonstrated such an impressive strength of character and of that I am extremely proud.
“We have tackled thunder and lightning squalls and conditions that have not been forecast. We have hit tree trunks, had fishing nets on our rudders and had some equipment issues. But throughout all this we have tried to push at 100 per cent the whole time without any sense of giving up at any stage.”
The current ETA for Scallywag is between 1630 and 1830 UTC (0030 to 0230 local time), with Vestas and Dongfeng due in around three hours later and Akzonobel following another three hours on.
MAPFRE, Brunel and Turn the Tide are tipped to arrive between 0230 and 0700 UTC (1030 to 1500 UTC).
Leg 4 – Position Report – Friday 19 January (Day 18)
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