8 days, 12 hours, 49 minutes and 52 seconds; the time taken by MAPFRE to sail the 5300 miles from Newport (United States) to Cardiff (Wales, United Kingdom). On Tuesday 29th May, the Spanish team crossed the finish line of leg nine of the Volvo Ocean Race in fifth place, a result holding Xabi Fernández’s team in a tight battle for final victory in the round-the-world race.

© María Muiña I MAPFRE

On Tuesday at 08:49 Spanish time, MAPFRE finished leg nine of the Volvo Ocean Race 2018-19 after 8 days, 12 hours, 49 minutes and 52 seconds of sailing from Newport (United States) to Cardiff (Wales, United Kingdom). A complicated Atlantic crossing and finish to the leg, has left the general leaderboard even closer than ever, with all options still open, as the teams face the remaining two legs to be disputed of the round-the-world race, in the final month of competition.

On arrival at the docks in Cardiff, Skipper Xabi Fernández explained,

“This has obviously been a very tough leg for us, and one where there was a lot of expectation. It was a vitally important, double-scoring leg, and moreover an Atlantic crossing, one we had prepared for very well, and we really aimed to do a good job. The leg was particularly windy, and we sailed really, really fast, but after each position report on seeing that it just wasn’t enough, and that we weren’t making up any distance to the leaders, in the end it became quite tough.”

On leaving Newport the fleet were immediately forced to choose between two well differentiated options ahead of the first major transition. MAPFRE, along with Dongfeng and Turn The Tide on Plastic, opted for the northern option, and was one of the first teams to gybe, whilst Brunel, AkzoNobel, Vestas and Scallywag continued to make miles heading south, and were able to make the most of the tail end of a low pressure area, even though it involved sailing more miles.

The leg became complicated when we saw that gybing early had been a mistake, and it was then impossible to catch them,” admitted the Basque skipper.

© Maria Muina I MAPFRE

From this moment onwards, even though the teams that had opted for the southern option were the most favoured, MAPFRE continued to push hard, in an attempt to close in on the leading group, making the most of the strong wind conditions in the Atlantic, and fighting against the cold conditions and freezing water over the deck, in their efforts to reach Cardiff as swiftly as possible.

Finally, Bouwe Bekking’s Brunel were first to cross the finish line, just four minutes ahead of AkzoNobel, in second. Dongfeng finished third, and Vestas 11th Hour Racing were fourth ahead of MAPFRE.

As Xabi explained,

“Everything continues to be as even as it was before. We are now obviously a point behind the new leaders, but nothing has been decided yet. Moreover, Brunel has now joined in the fight to win the race, since they have once again won a double-scoring leg, and they are now just two points behind us overall, and just three from first place, so things are going to be a little more complicated in the final run.”

Now that MAPFRE is second on the overall scoreboard; two real points behind Dongfeng (one point separates them in the general provisional classification, and the other point at stake will be added at the end of the round-the-world race, and will be won by the team to have taken the least time in completing all the legs, and which is currently and virtually owned by Dongfeng), and a further two points from third-placed Brunel, Xabi Fernández’s team are already mentally preparing for the last two legs of the race.

The Spanish VO65 is determined to give their absolute all to claim back the leading position, and to fight for victory of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18. The remaining two shorter legs are from Cardiff to Gothenburg, and from the Swedish city to the Hague.

The team is not lacking in motivation, enthusiasm or trust, as their skipper states,

“Our focus now is to fully prepare for the last two legs. They are two short legs that I think we can do very well in. The team is really motivated, and is now preparing in Cardiff for the next leg, both on the boat, as a team, and with the strategy. I am confident that we can do a good job.”

The start of leg 10 is on Sunday 10th June from Cardiff to Gothenburg in Sweden, and is the penultimate leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18.

© María Muiña I MAPFRE.


Arrival time: 08:49 Spanish time (07:49 local time)

Time taken: 8d 12h 49m 52s

Total miles sailed: 3176.3 miles

Average speed in the leg: 15.5 knots

Difference from the first-placed boat (Team Brunel): 4h 9m 43s




Tuesday, 29th May 2018 – 12:23 Spanish time

  1. Team Brunel (NED, BouweBekking), FINISHED on 29/05 at 04:39 Spanish time
  2. Team AkzoNobel (NED, Simeon Tienpont), FINISHED on 29/05 at 04:43 Spanish time
  3. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN, Charles Caudrelier), FINISHED on 29/05 at 06:16 Spanish time
  4. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (USA/DEN, Charlie Enright), FINISHED on 29/05 at 07:09 Spanish time
  5. MAPFRE (ESP, Xabi Fernández), FINISHED on 29/05 at 08:49 Spanish time  
  1. Turn The Tide on Plastic (United Nations, Dee Caffari), FINISHED on 29/05 at 10:56 Spanish time
  2. Team Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG, David Witt), 110.7 miles from the finish line



  1. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN, Charles Caudrelier), 60 points
  2. MAPFRE (ESP, Xabi Fernández), 59 points
  3. Team Brunel (NED, Bouwe Bekking), 57 points
  4. Team AkzoNobel (NED, Simeon Tienpont), 48 points
  5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (USA/DEN, Charlie Enright), 36 points
  6. Sun Hung Kai Scallywag (HKG, David Witt), 27 points *pending finishing leg
  7. Turn The Tide on Plastic (United Nations, Dee Caffari), 26 points