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20 Feb 2018 3:02
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Sailing

    Vestas early leader in Volvo Ocean Race

    Vestas 11th Hour Racing is the early leader in a Volvo Ocean Race featuring New Zealand sailors spread through most of the seven-strong fleet.

    Vestas 11th Hour Racing, with New Zealander Tony Mutter in the crew, has hit the front on the opening day of the Volvo Ocean Race.

    The American-Danish yacht has a lead of two nautical miles about a sixth of the way into the 1450nm "sprint" leg from the Spanish port of Alicante to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.

    Also on board Vestas is Sir Peter Blake's son, James, in his role as one of the race's on-board reporters producing content from the various boats.

    Second in the seven-strong fleet was AkzoNobel (Netherlands), which has Kiwi Brad Farrand among the crew.

    Compatriot Brad Jackson was also meant to be on board, having been called up last week as skipper.

    But Jackson, a three-time race winner, decided against sailing the leg after an arbitration hearing overturned the sacking of the previous skipper, Dutchman Simeon Tienpont, for breach of contract.

    In all, 10 New Zealanders are involved in the 2017-2018 running of the round-the-world contest, which will cover 45,000nm and has a stopover in Auckland in February and March.

    America's Cup-winning helmsman Peter Burling is on Team Brunel (Netherland), which is third.

    Burling's cup teammate and fellow Olympic 49er gold medallist, Blair Tuke, is on Spanish boat Mapfre, which is fifth.

    Both Burling and Tuke were involved in some intense early manoeuvring when the race began in 15 to 20 knots of breeze.

    As the fleet approached the final turning mark out of the bay at Alicante, Team Brunei and Mapfre found themselves on a collision course with China's Dongfeng, which had right of way.

    Team Brunel and Mapfre had to gybe quickly, but both were penalised for failing to keep sufficiently clear and dropped back.

    Dongfeng, with New Zealanders Stu Bannatyne and Daryl Wislang on board, sped into the lead, before falling to fourth.


    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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