LISBON, Portugal — Team Brunel scored a close win on the transatlantic seventh leg of the Volvo Ocean Race on Wednesday to move into third place overall.
Brunel skipper Bouwe Bekking, 51, is contesting a record-equaling seventh race and is still chasing a first overall victory in the nine-month race.
Team Brunel emerged with a narrow lead entering the final few miles at dawn and, despite a drop in the wind, held off Spanish boat MAPFRE for a victory in the 2,800-nautical-mile stage from Newport, Rhode Island to Lisbon.
The result consolidated Team Brunel's overall position in third, six points behind overall leader Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, which finished fifth in the stage.
In between is China's Dongfeng, which finished fourth in the leg and trails the Abu Dhabi yacht by five points.
"We sailed a tremendous leg but just at the end when there was no wind, it was getting a bit gnarly," Bekking said. "However, we pulled it off."
Dongfeng's French skipper Charles Caudrelier blamed himself after a sloppy tack manoeuver for its fourth-place finish in a leg it led for long periods.
"I'm feeling very bad, very upset and very sad," he said. "Most of all, I'm upset with myself because my crew did a great job and I made a huge mistake. We really missed a chance in this leg."
The all-female crew of Team SCA from Sweden finished sixth, about three hours after the leaders.
The fleet will be joined in the eighth leg from Lisbon to Lorient, France on June 7 by Team Vestas Wind. The Danish boat was rebuilt after crashing into an Indian Ocean reef on Nov. 29 during the second leg and arrived by truck early Wednesday in Lisbon.
The race's final two legs take the seven boats to Lorient and then Gothenburg, Sweden, the latter via a short stop in The Hague, Netherlands.