Dongfeng Race Team and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing continue to slug it out for the lead as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet closes in on Newport. Current estimates have the two leaders arriving around 10 p.m. at the earliest. Both are within 50 nautical miles of the finish and doing about 12 knots. If they were to keep up that pace it’s possible the finish time could move sooner by a few hours.
The past 24 hours have been swift for the six boats competing in the Volvo Ocean Race and the leader’s estimated time of arrival is now expected tonight, between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. tomorrow morning.
The Volvo Ocean Race Newport Race Village at Fort Adams State Park will remain open past the scheduled 7 p.m. closing time to accommodate race fans and families of the sailors who will be on hand to welcome the weary sailors after a 5,000-nautical mile leg.
Based on this morning’s position report of 8:40 a.m. EDT (12:40 p.m. UTC), Dongfeng Race Team, skippered by Frenchman Charles Caudrelier, led the fleet with 116 miles to the finish in Narragansett Bay off Fort Adams State Park.
Dongfeng’s lead was far from safe. Close behind was overall race leader Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker of the U.K. Abu Dhabi was within sight of Dongfeng, just 2 miles in arrears, setting up the prospect of a photo finish.
“Right now we need to pull out all the secrets we’ve got,” said Abu Dhabi’s onboard reporter Matt Knighton of Chicago. “In the breezy downwind conditions of the darkness, they’ve (Dongfeng) managed to sail lower and faster towards the mark and extended to 3nm ahead. We’ve found at least 10 rabbits in this magic hat of ours this leg – we just need to find one more.”
After the two leaders was Team Brunel, skippered by Bouwe Bekking, 127 miles from the finish, followed by Mapfre, Iker Martinez skipper, with 135 miles to the finish.
Team Alvimedica, skippered by Rhode Island’s Charlie Enright, was fifth, 150 miles from the finish, and the all-female crew Team SCA, Sam Davies skipper, was sixth, 243 miles from the finish.
Admission to the Race Village is free and parking this evening is also free. Visitors can purchase food from the Russell Morin catering café and beverages from the Heineken Docks beer garden, Mount Gay Bar, and Moët Champagne garden. Video of the arrivals will be broadcast in the video dome.
For boaters who plan to be on the water to escort the fleet to the finish, complimentary berthing is available at the Alofsin Pier adjacent to the Race Village.