[Volvo Ocean Race #8] The day of glory is arrived for SCA
The girls of Team SCA struck a resounding blow in the early hours of Thursday morning when they gloriously clinched Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Lisbon, Portugal to Lorient, France! A great win for them... and the women's offshore sailing. Their joy was in contrast to the disappointment subduing Dongfeng Race Team. The Chinese boat finished seventh and last of the stage. French skipper Charles Caudrelier and his crew saw their chances of winning this edition of the race officially slip away.
The comfortable victory from Lisbon, Portugal to Lorient, France of Team SCA is the first leg win by a female crew in offshore sailing's toughest challenge since 1989-90. The culmination of over two years of hard work came together today for the largely rookie crew, that has clearly improved leg after leg.
It all started with a fast and furious inshore section in Lisbon bay, which saw the magenta boat head into the Atlantic in seventh place. But it wasn't long before strategy came into play... A tactical decision to choose the more offshore course as they headed into the Bay of Biscay and forecasted 30 knots upwind conditions paid dividends. For Team SCA it was a case of being the hunted rather than the hunter and holding their position over the others.
It took them three days 13 hours 11 minutes and 11 seconds to grab their share of race History. "Thanks to everybody for all your support. It's not really sunk in yet", said a jubilant Sam Davies. "It's a reward for all the hard work we have done. It's a great confidence booster. It's going to be huge for us. We've had a mountain to climb to get here."
The skipper of SCA continued: "The conditions might have been man breaking but they were not women breaking. It feels great to have held that lead in the conditions we had. It was not easy in the Bay of Biscay. But I am proud of how we sailed. It was pretty violent onboard - we had a tough 36 hours across there. If I chose one leg to win it would be this one coming into Lorient, so I am doubly happy."
Meanwhile, for seventh placed Dongfeng Race Team, it was a morning of disappointment. With this result in the three-day leg and the third place scored by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, all their hopes of overall victory have definitively been shattered. But despite that, skipper Charles Caudrelier, who has spent thousands of hours perfecting his sailing around these parts, was gracious in defeat : "I'm happy", he said, smiling on the dock. "We had a great fight with Ian (Walker, skipper of Abu Dhabi). He is been very strong. It's not easy when you're leading and you're the favourite to win a race, but he deserves it. If we can't win, I'm happy that it's him, rather than someone else."
And, reflecting on the leg, the skipper knows exactly where it weng wrong. "We were in the good side with the girls, and we decided to control the fleet, but it was a mistake", he explains. There was some good news for the red boat though, as they scooped the 24 Hour Speed Record Challenge for Leg 8. "I'm surprised, because we are still last", laughs Charles. "It means we go fast, but the wrong way!"
The boats will have a short maintenance period before Sunday’s In-Port Race in Lorient before the fleet sets sail for Gothenburg, Sweden, via a much-awaited pit-stop in The Hague, Holland, on Tuesday, June 16. Until then, it's the time of magenta celebrations!
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