Chinese boat stretches lead in Volvo Ocean Race

Team Alvimedica sails as winds begin to build near the corner of Sri Lanka.

Handout/Getty Images


Dongfeng Race Team stretched its lead in third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race on Sunday, heading to its home port on the southern tip of China.

Charles Caudrelier’s crew can become the first Chinese boat to win a leg in offshore sailing’s leading round-the-world race, which was first held in 1973.

There would be no better place to do it than Sanya, the destination of the 4,670-nautical mile leg that began in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 3 and is likely to be completed about Jan. 24.

On Sunday, after nine days of sailing, the boat had increased its lead of just under 12 miles over its closest challenger, Team Brunel of the Netherlands. The boats were tied at the top of the standings before the start of the leg with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

The fleet still has just under 3,000 nautical miles to sail, including a hazardous stretch through the Malacca Strait, which is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and separates the Indonesian island of Sumatra from Malaysia. The boats will need to dodge slow-moving fishing vessels and all kinds of debris in the heavily polluted waters.

Meanwhile, Team Vestas Wind, the Danish boat that was grounded during leg two from Cape Town and Abu Dhabi on Nov. 29, was heading for Italy to rebuild. The target is to return the badly damaged vessel to the race for the final two legs from Lisbon in June.

The 38,739 nautical mile, nine-month race is held every three years and visits 11 ports and every continent.