The screams on board came with the crossing of the finish line. Relieved, skipper Charles Caudrelier and his fellow sailors let their emotions run wild, repeatedly raised their fists in the sky above The Hague, hugged each other and screamed again. The Dongfeng Race Team won the almost 1000 nautical miles long eleventh stage of the Volvo Ocean Race (it was the first stage win of the race for the "Reds") and thus made their big dream come true: victory in the 13th Volvo Ocean Race!
Game, set and match: Caudrelier (center). The Frenchman had won the penultimate edition of the race around the world as a guard with "Groupama" and then sailed in third place as skipper at his premiere. In his second attempt as a skipper, he is now the man of the hour in The Hague. Xabí Fernandez (left) and Bouwe Bekking, who lost out in the thrilling three-way battle for victory, congratulated them fairly
A courageous decision brought Dongfeng the triumph on this hard-fought stage, during which each of the three boats still eligible for the overall victory led at least once. On Saturday evening, Charles Caudrelier and his navigator Pascal Bidégorry had decided on a course between the coast and some restricted areas and separated from the fleet for it. At first, Dongfeng fell behind because of this - so much that the question "Suicide or brilliant move?" circulated. On Sunday morning, however, the first projections showed that the top boats would all cross the finish line within a few minutes. Still, the competition found the reappearance of Dongfeng almost unreal. AkzoNobel's security officer Nicolai Sehested said: "They came out of nowhere and made the running." At 5:22 p.m., the Dongfeng masterpiece was perfect.
Nice Dongfeng clip, which was made in March, introduces the team and their dreams well
Second place went to Xabí Fernandez Spanish team Mapfre with third place behind the Dutch team AkzoNobel, which gave hundreds of thousands of fans happy moments on the water and in the port of The Hague. Xabí Fernandez said: "We were close and did a good race. We congratulate the Dongfeng Race Team on their victory."
Even after the eighth round around the world he remains without a win, but a fair loser: Brunel's skipper Bouwe Bekking
The big loser of this again spectacularly exciting final stage with changes of position at the top until almost the finish is Bouwe Bekking's team Brunel. Instead of the hoped-for winner's party in their home country and the longed-for overall victory, Bekking's team was given an ice-cold triple shower at noon on the day of the final after an interim tour. The "yellows" had to be content with stage fourth and third in the final ranking. It is Bekking's third third place in 33 years. He was second three times. He was denied victory this time as well, although he had a hand on the trophy on the day of the decision. That is bitter for Bekking, even if he was a strong defeat at the finish and congratulated the Dongfeng Race Team fairly on their "deserved victory".
Skipper Charles Caudrelier and his helmswoman and trimmer Carolijn Brouwer are happy about their victory
However, to the delight of the hosts, one of the winners on the historic final day was a "flying" Dutch woman who was frenetically celebrated in The Hague: helmswoman and trimmer Carolijn Brouwer is one of three women alongside Marie Riou and Justine Mettraux who are part of the Dongfeng Race Team sailed around the world and contributed to victory. A new rule had encouraged the teams in this edition to include women in their crews. On her third lap around the world, 44-year-old Brouwer was one of the few female sailors in the race who had contested all stages; she was the only one on board Dongfeng. The three-time circumnavigator, Olympic participant and mother of a son had named overall victory as her goal before the race and said after the triumph: "The race was an emotional roller coaster. The fact that I was the first woman to win it is unbelievable and makes me very much proud."
Incidentally, there was no winner in the fight for the "triple crown": Neither Peter Burling nor Blair Tuke - together Olympic champions in 49ers and America's Cup winners with Emirates Team New Zealand - were able to triple success with their teams Brunel and Mapfre make perfect. These and many other challenges remain for the sailors for the 14th edition of the race, which will soon be given a new name by its owners.