UPDATE: 11:15 a.m. - The all-female crew Team SCA, led by skipper Sam Davies, completed the fleet arrival into Newport this morning, finishing Leg 6 in 17 days and 20 hours. Team SCA finished six and a half hours after previous finisher, Team Alvimedica.
An arrivals press conference is scheduled this afternoon in the media center.
UPDATE: 4:20 a.m. - Team Alvimedica finished Leg 6 in fifth place this morning, completing the leg from Brazil in 17 days and 14 hours. The final two hours were excruciatingly slow for the "home town" crew as the sailors battled an ebb tide in winds around 3 knots.
Skippered by Charlie Enright of Rhode Island, Team Alvimedica retains fourth place on the overall leaderboard with 24 points. Although Alvimedica is tied with Mapfre on points, Team Alvimedica owns the tiebreaker in the In-Port Series.
Team SCA is the only crew remaining on the water. The all-female crew was within 40 nautical miles of Newport and expected to finish mid-morning.
UPDATE: 12:00 a.m. - The first four boats are all safely tucked away in Newport.
Dongfeng Race Team, skippered by Charles Caudrelier, and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker skipper, staged a thrilling finish for the thousands of spectators that turned out to watch from Fort Adams State Park, trading downwind tacks towards the finish line with a large spectator fleet accompanying. Ultimately, the red-hulled Dongfeng pulled out a 3-minute, 25-second victory to claim its first leg win since Leg 3.
Abu Dhabi's second place finish continues its run of placing on the podium in each leg of the race. Abu Dhabi leads the overall standings with the low score of 11 points, 6 points ahead of Dongfeng, which racked up 8 points on Leg 5 due to a broken mast.
Third place on the 5,010-nautical mile leg went to Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking skipper, which finished 50 minutes behind Abu Dhabi. Spanish entry Mapfre, skippered by Xabi Fernandez, placed fourth, about 38 minutes behind Brunel.
Team Alvimedica, skippered by Charlie Enright, is expected to be the next finisher. At midnight the crew was some 12 miles from the finish and making 10 knots boatspeed and could finish in about 90 minutes.
Team SCA, Sam Davies skipper, was 54 miles from the finish and expected to finish late in the morning.
UPDATE: 8:00 p.m. - Dongfeng Race Team is holding off Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing by the slimmest of margins as the two tussle for the lead on Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Abu Dhabi held a paper thin lead an hour ago, but now it's Dongfeng back in the lead. Both crews are about 12 nautical miles from the finish, racing just south of Point Judith. Boatspeeds are ranging between 5 and 8 knots, giving a predicted finish time at Fort Adams State Park of 10 p.m.
UPDATE: 7:00 p.m. - After temporarily losing the lead to Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Dongfeng Race Team is back in the lead on Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race as the two crews race in light winds to the east of Old Harbor on Block Island.
According to AIS tracking Dongfeng led Abu Dhabi by .2 nautical miles, some 19 miles from the finish off Fort Adams State Park in Newport. The boatspeeds had increased to 5-7 knots. But closing up from behind is Team Brunel, now 3.5 miles off the lead around 7 p.m.
It's looking like another 1.5 or 2 hours before the lead boats reach Newport, but they won't be far off each other and anything could happen as they enter the East Passage of Narragansett Bay.
UPDATE 6:00 p.m. - Dongfeng Race Team continues to fend off Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the race to the Leg 6 finish of the Volvo Ocean Race, but only just as the crews race some 2 nautical miles off of Southeast Light on Block Island about 20 miles from the finish off Newport Harbor.
The windspeed is falling the late afternoon and so are the boatspeeds, which are now down to 5 knots or less from 12 knots just two hours ago. Dongfeng is leading Abu Dhabi by less than .5 miles. The leader is predicted around 10 p.m.
Abu Dhabi and Dongfeng are placed 1st and 2nd, respectively, on the leaderboard, but are separated by 9 points. Dongfeng broke its mast on Leg 5 from New Zealand to Brazil, and needs to make up every point it can.
"I wish you could see Pascal's face right now," wrote Dongfeng onboard reporter Sam Greenfield, a Newporter. "He's sneering. He's glowering at Azzam with such cold, grim (disdain) that I wouldn't be surprised if she lit up and sank (into) the sea."
The blues band, Neil and the Vipers, begins playing at the Race Village at Fort Adams State Park at 7 p.m. Food and beverages are available. Hopefully the crews will finish during the concert that runs until 10 p.m.
UPDATE: 4:30 p.m. - With the Volvo Ocean Race fleet bearing down on Newport, organizers of the Race Village at Fort Adams State Park have scrapped the planned 7 p.m. closing and instead organized a killer party to welcome the sailors who've been at sea for more than 17 days.
The leaders, Dongfeng Race Team and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, are 32 nautical miles from the finish off the north end of Fort Adams State Park. They're separated by less than 1 mile and are estimated to finish around 10 p.m.
In honor of the possible photo finish a Neil & The Vipers is scheduled to play 7-10 p.m. and food and beverages are available for purchase from the Russell Morin Catering Caf_, Heineken Docks beer garden, Mount Gay Bar, and Moet & Chandon champagne garden. Video of the arrivals will be broadcast in the video dome.
UPDATE: 3:30 p.m. - Dongfeng Race Team and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing continue to slug it out for the lead as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet closes in on Newport. Current estimates have the two leaders arriving around 10 p.m. at the earliest. Both are within 50 nautical miles of the finish and doing about 12 knots. If they were to keep up that pace it's possible the finish time could move sooner by a few hours.
Continue to check back frequently for updates.
UPDATE: 9 a.m. - The past 24 hours have been swift for the six boats competing in the Volvo Ocean Race and the leader's estimated time of arrival is now expected tonight, between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. tomorrow morning.
The Volvo Ocean Race Newport Race Village at Fort Adams State Park will remain open past the scheduled 7 p.m. closing time to accommodate race fans and families of the sailors who will be on hand to welcome the weary sailors after a 5,000-nautical mile leg.
Based on this morning's position report of 8:40 a.m. EDT (12:40 p.m. UTC), Dongfeng Race Team, skippered by Frenchman Charles Caudrelier, led the fleet with 116 miles to the finish in Narragansett Bay off Fort Adams State Park.
Dongfeng's lead was far from safe. Close behind was overall race leader Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker of the U.K. Abu Dhabi was within sight of Dongfeng, just 2 miles in arrears, setting up the prospect of a photo finish.
"Right now we need to pull out all the secrets we've got," said Abu Dhabi's onboard reporter Matt Knighton of Chicago. "In the breezy downwind conditions of the darkness, they've (Dongfeng) managed to sail lower and faster towards the mark and extended to 3nm ahead. We've found at least 10 rabbits in this magic hat of ours this leg - we just need to find one more."
After the two leaders was Team Brunel, skippered by Bouwe Bekking, 127 miles from the finish, followed by Mapfre, Iker Martinez skipper, with 135 miles to the finish.
Team Alvimedica, skippered by Rhode Island's Charlie Enright, was fifth, 150 miles from the finish, and the all-female crew Team SCA, Sam Davies skipper, was sixth, 243 miles from the finish.
Admission to the Race Village is free and parking this evening is also free. Visitors can purchase food from the Russell Morin catering caf_ and beverages from the Heineken Docks beer garden, Mount Gay Bar, and Moet Champagne garden. Video of the arrivals will be broadcast in the video dome.
For boaters who plan to be on the water to escort the fleet to the finish, complimentary berthing is available at the Alofsin Pier adjacent to the Race Village.