Three of the four boats have finished, a fourth is on her way, but how damaging has this leg been for the Volvo?
To have three of the seven boat fleet knocked out following serious structural damage during one short but brutal leg must surely be an embarrassment for the Volvo Ocean Race organisers. Forty percent of the fleet is ashore and wondering how to get to China in time for the in port race next weekend. If it was simply a case of shipping the boats, there might be a chance, but these boats retired, postponed racing call it what you will, because of serious structural failures that require some serious boat building skills and time to fix.
Patching up a Volvo 70 for the 12,500 mile leg that follows is not really a serious option and yet to miss leg 5 would kiss goodbye to two sets of scoring gate points worth half each and the leg finish points, which effectively means double points for this leg.
Then there’s the in-port race. If you can’t make leg 5, how can you race in the in-port race in just over a week’s time?
There’s little doubt that the pressure is really on for those who have yet to make it to Qingdao.
So is the event dead as a result?
Certainly not. The irony is that at the front of the fleet the racing has now got even closer. Not only did the top three boats finish within two hours, but Telefonica Blue’s win, a second for Puma and a lowly third for Ericsson 4, has trimmed down the overall lead margin to just 3.5 points.
This race is very much still on.
Dream Ticket or Nightmare Scenario? It’s both.