In the tenth closest finish in the race’s history, team AkzoNobel arrived in Auckland just 2 mins and 14 seconds ahead of the second placed boat, Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag.
The victory was the team’s first leg win in the eight-month round-the-world race and comes on the back of a third place in the last offshore leg – leg four from Melbourne to Australia.
Despite spending more time than any other team at the front of the fleet on the way from Hong Kong, team AkzoNobel’s victory could in no way be described as easy or straightforward.
The international crew of seven men and two women had to fight their way back several times from mid-fleet positions after seeing substantial leads ground down to nothing when they were first to be slowed by light winds. On each occasion however the crew simply refused to be beaten and fought their way back to the front of the fleet.
Team AkzoNobel skipper, Simeon Tienpont, was quick to pay tribute to the teamwork the crew had demonstrated during the 20 days of non-stop racing. “It has been a 7,000-mile match race, it’s been unreal, I’ve never done a race like this in my life,” he said.
“The last 16 days it has been a neck-and-neck battle. I have huge respect for Scallywag, they never stopped fighting and we never stopped defending. I’m unbelievably proud of the crew. It’s a fantastic feeling.”
The crew will be in New Zealand for three weeks, where they will spend some time resting and recuperating before they start their preparations for the next leg. AkzoNobel’s product team will be busy supporting the Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard, as the full fleet of seven Volvo Ocean 65 foot yachts will be lifted out of the water for a minor refit and re-coated in International and Awlgrip products.
Team AkzoNobel will set off on leg seven of the Volvo Ocean Race from Auckland to Itajai, Brazil, on March 18.
For more info visit the Team AkzoNobel website