Veteran Bekking outsmarts Chinese boat on new course to win 2nd leg of ocean race

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Veteran Dutch skipper Bouwe Bekking pulled off a masterly passing maneuver to guide Team Brunel to a very slim 16-minute victory in Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race on Saturday after 23 days on the open seas.

China's Dongfeng Race Team finished the leg second, followed by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

The 5,200 nautical mile stage from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi has been packed with incident as the fleet dodged a mid-leg tropical storm as well as icebergs in the early stages.

Team Vestas Wind even failed to reach the United Arab Emirates after running their $5.6 million boat aground on a reef in the Indian Ocean on Nov. 29. They hope to return later in the event with a new boat.

There were no such problems for Bekking on a route that the 41-year-old race has never sailed before.

The key moment came five hours from the finish when he swept past Dongfeng despite both boats sailing in similar wind conditions just a few hundred yards apart.

That gave the 51-year-old Bekking a slim advantage that he eventually extended to a mile.

Bekking, who is competing in a record-equaling seventh race after taking part in his first in 1985-86, was all smiles as he cruised from the finish line to the dock.

"I've always said it's better to be lucky than good but we've been good this leg as well," Bekking said.

Dongfeng's French skipper Charles Caudrelier, whose boat was also edged out in the first leg by Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, has the consolation of another excellent performance by a crew that includes two rookie Chinese sailors.

Team Brunel, Dongfeng and Abu Dhabi all have four points with Bekking's boat leading the standings based on the most recent win. Abu Dhabi, who won the opening stage from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town on Nov. 5, are second.

The boats will now spend three weeks in dock for maintenance before the race resumes for the third leg on January 3 when the fleet, minus Team Vestas Wind, heads for Sanya in China.

The nine-month, 38,739 nautical mile race comprises nine legs in all, visiting 11 ports and every continent. It started on October 4 in Alicante and is scheduled to finish in Gothenburg, Sweden in June next year.


Current placings: 1 Team Brunel (Netherlands), 2 Dongfeng Race Team (China), 3 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, 4 MAPFRE (Spain), 5 Team Alvimedica (Turkey/U.S.), 6 Team SCA (Sweden), 7 Team Vestas Wind (suspended racing).

(The previous version of this story incorrectly had the winner's name as Team Brunei instead of the correct Team Brunel.)

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