Three teams can still win the Volvo Ocean Race if the starting signal for the eleventh and final stage of the 13th edition of the world's most famous team regattum is given in Gothenburg at 2 p.m. German time. Team Brunel and Mapfre are tied with 65 points. Charles Caudrelier's Dongfeng Race Team can mentally add the 65th to its 64 points collected over 10 stages and 44,000 nautical miles, which is transferred to the account of the French-Chinese crew at the end as a bonus point for the fastest total time sailed, if they only travel at average speed arrives at the port of destination The Hague.
All three are still laughing, in The Hague only one will cheer: Mapfre-Skipper Fernandez, Brunel-Skipper Bekking and Dongfeng-Skipper Caudrelier at the last press conference before the grand finale
But that is not Dongfeng's goal. Just like Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking and Mapfre skipper Xabí Fernandez, Charles Caudrelier knows that only one of the three teams can win the most important crew race around the world. Whoever reaches The Hague first is the 2017/2018 Volvo Ocean Race winner. So the scenario couldn't be more exciting before the 700 nautical mile final spurt. Quite a few experts expect that the decision in the three-way battle may even be made in the photo finish, and fans all over the world hold their breath.
Charles Caudrelier describes the task at hand as follows: "It is incredible to see the three boats tied. I think each of these three teams deserves to win the race. Now it is up to us to push harder to keep The Hague ahead of them We know it's going to be a great fight. We look forward to it and are ready. " Xabí Fernandez, whose team led the race the most, especially at the beginning, and Spain would like to bring the first Volvo Ocean Race victory in the 45-year history of the marine marathon, said: "We are in an incredible situation: three boats tied with one stage before the end. I am very happy that we are among these three boats. We will fight. We know that only one can win and we have a mission: we have to beat them."
At this press conference in The Hague, there was also a good mood and a lot of crowds
Bouwe Bekking intends to do the same. Team Brunel's skipper and eight-time record participant has rolled up the field from behind with his team. Sixth in Auckland, the "Yellows" made an almost unbelievable comeback and won three of the last four stages. For Bekking, the first victory in the race of his life is within reach. "We have a run," he says confidently, "if you look at the standings, we got faster on every stage. On the last stage we found a few additional gears, which is a prime thing. I think we now have a team together that we are really happy with. And last but not least: We will be sailing in my home territory! I've lived in Denmark for 25 years, but I grew up there. We have all the ingredients to race win."
For Bouwe Bekking, the final leads home: a plus for the Dutch?
There is no question who the fans will keep their fingers crossed for in the port of destination in The Hague: a sea of Dutch and Brunel flags should be blowing. "What we can expect in The Hague, we have never experienced in this race. Not even in earlier Whitbread times," says Bekking's compatriot, the Dutch AkzoNobel skipper Simeon Tienpont. The fourth place of his team is cemented, the way to the podium is mathematically no longer possible. But the second team under the Dutch flag ideally wants to end the race with a stage win. "Up to a million people are expected in The Hague this week," said Tienpont, "that shows the importance of this race in the sporting world and especially in the Netherlands."
He can no longer sail on the podium with AkzoNobel, but he would like to end the race with a stage win: Skipper Simeon Tienpont
The start of the stage is broadcast live here. The tracker remains live during the entire stage. The arrival of the boats at the weekend is also shown live. So there is a big sailing weekend ahead, because at the same time the German national sailing team is fighting in the medal races for Kieler Woche victories in the Strander Bay.
Sun Hung Kai / Scallywags Skipper David Witt doubled his stake already offered in Cardiff to $ 20,000 per win for Team Brunel