TEAM SCA have beaten the odds to secure a remarkable victory in leg eight of the Volvo Ocean Race from Lisbon to Lorient.
Skippered by Portsmouth’s Sam Davies, the first all-female outfit to compete in the competition for 12 years overcame testing conditions and penalty points to win the penultimate leg of the round-the-world series.
The team had finished last in each of the previous legs and also suffered a two-point penalty for infringing on a restricted area during the seventh race.
Their comeback display was testament to the resolute spirit and determination shown after covering over 35,000 miles so far and it made them to first female crew for 25 years to win a leg.
Over the past eight months, the race – which started in Alicante last October – has taken in Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland, Itajai, Newport, Lisbon and now Lorient, before concluding in Gothenburg on Tuesday, June 23.
Speaking after triumphing on the 647-mile journey from Lisbon to Lorient – by far the shortest of the nine legs – Davies felt the win was vindication for her team after many tribulations during the race, which is contested by seven boats from across the world.
‘I would like to thank everybody for all the support. It’s not really sunk in yet,’ said Davies.
‘It didn’t hit us until we docked and there weren’t any other boats there.
‘I think it’s a reward for all the hard work we have done. It’s a great confidence-booster.
‘We’ve had a mountain to climb to get here so it’s huge for us.’
Gosport’s Dee Caffari completed the first seven legs for Team SCA.
But for the latest stretch she was withdrawn from the team, which now consists of Hamble-based meteorologist Libby Greenhalgh, Brits Abbie Ehler and Annie Lush, Stacey Jackson, Liz Wardley and Sophie Ciszek from Australia, American Sally Barkow, Dutchwoman Carolijn Brouwer, Anna-Lena Elled of Sweden, and Swiss pair Elodie-Jane Mettraux and Justine Mettraux.
The eighth leg crossed the notorious north-west corner of Spain, nicknamed the ‘Coast of Death’ because of the high number of boats that have sunk on the route.
As they passed Cape Finisterre, the crews had to battle constant wind shifts and heavy waves – the price they paid for sailing along a coastline directly exposed to the unrelenting power of the Atlantic.
Elsewhere in the race, Ian Walker’s Team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing all but secured overall victory with a strong third-placed finish.
The team will be officially crowned as victors after the final leg in Gothenburg.
The Warsash skipper has led his crew to an impressive two bullets and three seconds as he closes in on his first overall Volvo Ocean Race title- and the first for a British skipper – at the third time of asking.
The boats will depart for Gothenburg, via The Hague, on Tuesday, June 16.