MELBOURNE, Australia — The Spanish-based MAPFRE team has become the first crew to win back-to-back stages in this year’s Volvo Ocean Race by taking the third leg from Cape Town to Melbourne.

MAPFRE was again forced to come from behind to take victory over the Dongfeng Race Team, which finished second with a damaged keel system.

MAPFRE finished Monday in 14 days, 4 hours, 7 minutes, 21 seconds, with Dongfeng about four hours behind.

“We had to fight very hard for this victory,’ MAPFRE skipper Xabi Fernandez said. “There’s so much of the race to go. But for now it’s looking good and we’re very happy of course.”

MAPFRE will be at least six points clear, with the Southern Ocean stage worth double, heading into the next stage — from Melbourne to Hong Kong on Jan. 2 — with the exact margin depending on the finishing order of the chasing boats.

MAPFRE led the standings in the seven-boat fleet before the third leg, followed by Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Dongfeng.

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