ITAJAI, Brazil (Reuters) - The Volvo Ocean Race fleet made a go-slow start to the sixth leg of the nine-month marathon on Sunday when a near complete lack of breeze kept the boats lingering in Itajai, Brazil.
Race organizers were forced to shorten an in-port course to allow the six boats to find more breeze offshore for the 5,010-nautical mile stage to Newport, Rhode Island, U.S., which is the nine-month event’s only North American stopover.
Team Alvimedica, led by Rhode Islander Charlie Enright, will be desperate to win the leg into their home port and they were first to depart Itajai on the south-eastern coast of Brazil.
MAPFRE (Spain) were their closest pursuers followed by overall race leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Team SCA (Sweden), Dongfeng Race Team (China) and Team Brunel (Netherlands) in that order.
Ian Walker and his crew, who lead the points table by seven after Dongfeng failed to complete Leg 5 because of a broken mast, had a miserable start as they found themselves on the wrong side of the starting line and had to turn around in slow motion before setting off.
Once the fleet escapes the immediate shortage of breeze in almost doldrums conditions, the fleet should find more wind up the Brazilian coast through the Atlantic.
The boats are expected to take around 17-20 days to reach Newport, the seventh port to host the race since it started in Alicante, Spain, last October.
In all, the fleet will sail some 38,739nm, visiting 11 ports and every continent before the end of the nine-month marathon event on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Overall standings (after five legs, lowest points wins): 1 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing 9 points, 2 Dongfeng Race Team (China) 16, 3 Team Brunel (Netherlands) 18, 4 Team Alvimedica (U.S./Turkey) 19, 5 MAPFRE (Spain) 20, 6 Team SCA (Sweden) 29.
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)