The seven boats of the Volvo Ocean Race 2018 fleet lined up off Fort Adams on Saturday afternoon for the start of the Gurney’s Resort In-Port Race. It was the final act of this year’s Newport stopover before the boats depart for a transatlantic leg to Cardiff, Wales tomorrow afternoon. In addition to overall race leader MAPFRE, the other starters included Dongfeng Race Team, Team Akzo Nobel, Team Brunel, Vestas 11th Hour Racing, Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, and Turn the Tide on Plastic.
Although there was plenty of pageantry surrounding the event, the In-Port series is far more than pageantry. It has the potential to decide this year’s race in the event of a tie on the overall leaderboard. Given the fact that MAPFRE leads Dongfeng by only three points in the overall race, the Newport In Port results could end up having an impact on the final race results.
A large crowd braved chilly temperatures and dodged raindrops to be on hand at Fort Adams when the day’s events began with a dock out show that included a parade of nations and the introduction of every sailor from each of the seven crews. The introductions and subsequent skipper interviews were emceed by Tucker Thompson and Gemma Care.
The local race was particularly important to the hometown Vestas 11 Hour Racing.
“We have an opportunity to go out there and get a good result in front of our home crowd. We have such a good group of supporters, and we’d like to put on a good show for them, so we’re looking forward to that,” said Vestas 11th Hour Racing skipper Charlie Enright, before the race.
The five-leg race began in eight knots of wind at approximately 2:00 p.m. By the time the fleet reached the first mark in the reaching course, Team Brunel had taken a lead that it never relinquished. MAPFRE had a slow start but was in second place before long. Vestas 11th Hour Racing threatened to take the spot away at one point but the Spanish team was able to hold on for second with Vestas settling for third.
Sun Hung Kai/Scallway maneuvered through the spectator fleet in an effort to beat Vestas to the finish line but it almost cost them the fourth position as Dongfeng Racing charged to the finish just behind them. Team Akzo Nobel and Turn the Tide on Plastic rounded out the fleet.
Order of Finish:
1. Team Brunel
3. Vestas 11 Hour Racing
4. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag
5. Dongfeng Racing
6. Team Akzo Nobel
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic