The start of the tenth stage in the Volvo Ocean Race went excruciatingly slow in the British area off Cardiff on Sunday afternoon after a longer start postponement - especially for David Witt's team Sun Hung Kai Scallywag and Dee Caffari's team Turn the Tide on Plastic, who slowed down on the star line and only Minutes after the starting gun struggled across the line. The other boats hadn't got far at that time either. In the near-doldrums, things initially only progressed at a snail's pace. After the first half hour, Mapfre had taken the lead just ahead of Bouwe Bekking's Team Brunel and Vestas 11th Hour Racing AkzoNobel, while the Dongfeng Race Team, which was leading in the overall standings, quickly fell half a nautical mile behind, and the crew around skipper Charles Caudrelier in Tiden-Poker had to worry about something right at the beginning.
Did not get going well at the start of the tenth stage: Charles Caudrelier and his Dongfeng Race Team
Cheerfully commented on by the winner of the last edition, the fleet started off Cardiff in stage 10. Ian Walker (faded in above right) observed and described what was happening from the helicopter
The skippers had already announced it before the start of this penultimate stage of the 13th edition of the race around the world: A complicated section lies ahead of them, which will demand extreme continuous commitment from the teams. Xabi Fernandez said: "The short stages are much harder than the longer ones." Hardly any sleep, complex tactical and strategic decisions and the constant wearing of boat clothing make the 1300 nautical mile course from Cardiff to Gothenburg an acid test.
The statements of the skipper suggest that an enormous effort lies ahead of them. In addition, there is the pressure of the imminent decision on the overall victory. Dongfeng, Mapfre and Brunel are wrestling over it
For the three boats leading in the overall standings - Dongfeng (60 points), Mapfre (59 points) and Team Brunel (57 points) - it is already about nothing less than overall victory. Each of the teams, which are only three points apart, could develop an advantage for the final sprint from Gothenburg to The Hague with a stage win. But the pursuers still have ambitious goals. Simeon Tienpont's AkzoNobel team is aiming for a podium place on the way to the home port of The Hague, wants to challenge compatriot Bouwe Bekking and make life difficult for the two red boats in the lead. Tired of the many questions about the mathematical possibilities for his team, Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier had given the motto for this stage before the start: "Stop thinking about math. Just win!"
About half an hour after what was probably the slowest stage start of this 13th edition, Mapfre led the field