Dongfeng lost out to Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the first leg
from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town by 12 minutes after nearly a
This time they were denied in the leg from South Africa to the
UAE by 16 minutes by the Dutch team led by 51-year-old Bouwe
Bekking, who is competing in a record-equalling seventh race.
The key moment came five hours from the finish at around 1030
ET, when Bekking’s crew passed Dongfeng with a masterly
maneuver, although the boats were in similar winds, sailing just
a few hundred meters apart.
Dongfeng Race Team’s French skipper Charles Caudrelier could not
conceal his disappointment in a pre-finish call to
“Brunel have been much faster than us since a few days and we
don’t know why. We’re a bit disappointed because we did a good
job to pass them, but they keep passing us. You have to do well,
but you also have to be fast. If you’re not fast, it’s difficult
to win a leg,” he said.
Bekking, in contrast, could not wipe the smile off his face as
he cruised from the finish line to the dock. His team are locked
with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Dongfeng on four points after
two stages but are ranked top because of winning the most recent
"It is a good feeling," he told reporters. "I’ve always said,
it’s better to be lucky than good but we’ve been good this leg
as well so it’s so nice to win this one because it could have
been an easy leg to finish last. The team did a fantastic job,
we sailed the boat much better than in the first leg.”
Bekking has never won the 41-year-old race and it remains a
lifetime ambition for him.
Most professional offshore sailors do not race past their 50th
birthday but the Dutchman is known in the sport as one of the
toughest and fittest in the business.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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