Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag take Leg 4 Volvo Ocean Race win
20 January, 2018
Boom! Hong Kong’s entry in the Volvo Ocean Race, Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, has crossed the line first in Leg 4 and with it pick up eight points to move them up the overall standings.
Still early days in the race, there is plenty to play for and after a brief rest, the team will likely be straight into planning for the next leg. In the meantime, however, the well earned win no doubt be well celebrated.
Having finished near the bottom of the fleet through the warm-up races and Legs 1-3, it was some smart decision-making and tactical calls that saw the Hong Kong entry take and hold the lead to cross the finish first. Being a home win makes it all the sweeter for the team and their supporters.
“We had a bit of a plan and we stuck to it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and this time it worked for us,” said Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag skipper, David Witt.
“I was really impressed by the way we operated over the past couple of days… We had a pretty big lead and then through no fault of our own, about two-thirds of it got taken away. But we stuck to our guns, did what we thought was right and it’s worked out.”
Despite having a man overboard earlier in the leg, the team recovered both the crew member and their composure, to put in an impressive performance delivering a win few Hollywood directors would have scripted.
It was an extended Doldrums crossing, and Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag had moments where they appeared to be in a strong position. But late in the crossing, after falling behind the fleet again, Witt and navigator Libby Greenhalgh made the decision to cut the corner, and turn to the west earlier than the opposition who kept pressing north in search of stronger winds.
The move paid dividends nearly immediately on the leaderboard as Scallywag had less miles to sail to the finish line, but pundits cautioned that the teams in the north would almost certainly overhaul them as the tradewinds filled in from the northeast.
It never happened.
Even when the team dropped miles recovering a man overboard after Alex Gough was swept off the boat by a wave, after executing a flawless recovery, Scallywag returned to racing and extended to nearly a 100-mile lead.
But then, the chasing boats began chipping away at the lead. Two days out from the finish, the margin had been cut significantly and the pressure mounted.
Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag have had their fair share of controversies so far in the race (and prior) and despite apathy from some in the Hong Kong sailing fraternity towards the team the Hong Kong Sailing Federation has backed Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, with support from BrandHK, as the race’s sole Hong Kong entry, and arriving in their home port first, followed by the Chinese entry Dongfeng Race Team, makes it a historic 1,2 that will be cheered by many in Asia and will go down in Hong Kong’s sailing annals as a proud moment.
The Race Village at the Hong Kong Stopover is open 17-31 January and entry is free to all. Head down and check out the action at Kai Tak Runway Park. Even the race’s albatross mascot, Winner, is excited to be in Hong Kong.
For more information on the stopover, go to https://www.volvooceanracehk.com.