Chinese in mid-Atlantic fight to cut Emiratis’ lead

Team Alvimedica, left, and Team Dongfeng, right, racing yachts in the international Volvo Ocean Race, compete in Newport Harbor, Sunday, May 17, 2015, in Newport, R.I. The race departed Newport Sunday heading for Lisbon, Portugal, in the seventh leg of the global race. (AP)

Chinese challengers Dongfeng Race Team were leading the chase through the mid-Atlantic towards leg seven destination Lisbon on Saturday as they strove to cut the overall Volvo Ocean Race lead of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

The Emirati boat, skippered by Briton Ian Walker, had a six-point lead with three legs left of the round-the-world, nine-month, offshore sailing marathon scheduled to finish on June 27 at Gothenburg.

The current leg takes the six-strong fleet 2,800 nautical miles (nm) through the Atlantic to the Portuguese capital from Newport, Rhode Island, and has been as closely contested as all previous stages with roughly half the distance to go.

Dongfeng were at the back of the pack early on in the leg, which started last Sunday, but have clawed their way to the front and were holding a wafer-thin lead early on Saturday (0640 GMT) over Team Brunel (Netherlands) and Spanish boat, MAPFRE, who are both less than 2nm behind.

Abu Dhabi, were back in fourth place, just over 7nm behind the Chinese boat.

Should those positions remain the same when the fleet arrives in Lisbon on Wednesday as forecast, then Abu Dhabi’s lead will be cut in half leaving all to play for in the final two legs.

The fleet will have a short stop in Lisbon for boat maintenance before heading to France and Sweden for the final two legs.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46