Hundreds of sailing fans gatheres in Auckland to receive the winners of the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. The Spanish team “MAPFRE”skippered by two-time Olympic medalist Xabi Fernandez, crossed the finish line at 22.31 h local time coming from China, traversing over 5,264 miles in 20 days, 2 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds.
MAPFRE won the leg with an advantage of 4 minutes and 25 seconds over Abu Dhabi and 8 minutes and 2 seconds ahead of Dongfeng, second and third place respectively.
“After three legs where we have been working on our route, but which was also proving pretty tough, we really needed this result. It was the podium we were after come what may, so having won the leg is even better,” declared an absolutely delighted Xavi Fernández, skipper of MAPFRE, in replacement of Iker Martínez (who will arrive in Auckland on the 8th March).
In the last week MAPFRE remained further east than the rest of the fleet, and as navigator Jean Luc Nélias said, it was definitive to the last seven days of racing,
“Trying to stay to the east has been very difficult. The boats to the west were much faster so everything was decided on the last night.”
MAPFRE made it’s way to the lead at 16.00 h UTC on Friday. The Spanish team swiped first place from Abu Dhabi, battling hard to stay ahead of them along the east coast of New Zealand until their arrival in Auckland.
“We had been leading for little over 24 hours but were just one mile ahead of two boats that we know are very fast,” elaborated Cantabria-born Ñeti Cuervas-Mons.
“The final has been incredibly tight, with little wind and the other boats putting pressure on us, and it wasn’t until the very last five minutes that we knew we were going to win the leg. The whole team has worked for it. Being first into New Zealand is incredible and for me it’s the second time (in the last edition with Groupama, the winning boat for the same leg) so I’m really enjoying this moment, and even more than the first time,” as enthusiastically narrated by Jean Luc Nelias.
An undeniably well-deserved win.
For more on on the Volvo Ocean race and MAPFRE’s win in New Zealand, visit the official site.