Date: February 7, 2015
Winner: Dongfeng Race Team - cllick on the Results tab to see full in-port results
Dongfeng Race Team make history to snatch Sanya In-Port thriller
What a Chinese cracker!
Charles Caudrelier, French skipper of Dongfeng Race Team, is surely the most popular man in the city of Sanya after following up his Leg 3 victory here with victory in today's Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race too.
It was the first time that a Chinese-backed team has ever won an In-Port Race, and marks a little more history made following the red boat's Leg 3 win nearly a fortnight ago.
"It's fantastic," beamed Charles as his boat pulled back into the dock. "I think I'm going to become superstitious - this boat was launched on the 26th, which is a lucky number in China!
"Dongfeng means the wind from the east and today the wind blew from the east. We're lucky in China."
We had been warned that the this race would be a windless go-slow on Saturday, but the forecasters got it badly wrong and instead we were treated to one of the most exciting races in the series.
Dongfeng took all the plaudits after an hour's enthralling in-shore racing in Sanya's sun-drenched bay but wow, they were forced to fight every inch of the way.
The breeze picked up to 10 knots plus just as the race village clocktower chimed 2pm and the fleet - with the exception of MAPFRE - shot away from the starter's gun.
The Spanish boat were forced to cross the startline twice, the first time the wrong way, as the five other boats careered away. They had to carry out a 360 penalty turn after impeding Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
Charlie Enright's Team Alvimedica, the first In-Port Race winners in Alicante, were the first to show and they still had their noses in front at the opening gate while Dongfeng Race Team were left trailing after losing their A3 sheet on a gybe.
"We had a good plan, and we were able to execute it," smiled Charlie after the race.
Then it was the turn of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing to take the advantage as they found extra pressure to the right of the course while their main rivals went left.
By the second gate, however, the shifty conditions turned against the Emirati boat with Team Brunel, skippered by Bouwe Bekking, nipping in front of them along with new leaders Team Alvimedica.
Still the twists and turns of this intriguing race were not over with Dongfeng opting to go left and the extra breezes pushed them into a narrow lead over Enright's crew who were to struggle in the next leg with an A3 sail which refused to furl properly.
It was by no means over. By the fifth gate, the wind gods seemed to be favouring Azzam of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing again and they had cut Dongfeng's advantage to around 50 metres after trailing by 200 at one stage.
But Caudrelier and his men have shown time after time already in this series and the offshore legs that when the going gets tough they get going - and despite the best efforts of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing they held on for victory.
"Dongfeng did well," said a frustrated Ian at the end. "We had our chances and I think we should have won the race, but in the bigger picture it's another good result.
"It was hard. A lot of our crew have been ill and they did well just to get us around the course."
The home victory gave the series its fourth new winner in as many races. Like the overall event, it could not be more thrillingly poised.
After Ian Walker's Emirati boat came Team Alvimedica, who grabbed the final podium place, then Team Brunel, Team SCA in fifth and MAPFRE in sixth place.
Watch race highlights:
Watch full race replay:
Team Vestas Wind In-Port Race Sanya results:
Start time: 14:00 (local time)
|In order of finish:||Finish time (local)||Points|
|Dongfeng Race Team||14:54:29||1|
|Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing||14:55:07||2|
|Team Vestas Wind||DNS||8|