Two Kiwi crew members from Akzo-Nobel are celebrating a home port victory after a nail-biting finish to an epic sixth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race into the City of Sails.
Justin Ferris and Brad Ferrand were on board the Dutch boat that finished just ahead of Scallywag after a gruelling 20-day voyage from Hong Kong to Auckland.
Team New Zealand's Blair Tuke surged into third place aboard Mapfre, while his Olympic cohort Peter Burling and Team Brunel finished up in sixth place.
Coming into the final 24 hours there was a ridge of high pressure off the north east coast which stalled the progress of the leading boats, allowing those behind to close what had appeared to be an insurmountable gap.
"It’s been a 6,500 mile match race, it’s unreal," said Azko-Nobel skipper Tienpont. "I've never sailed a race like this in my life."
"We've always been in each other's sights. They were always there. It's been neck and neck. Huge respect to Scallywag, they never stopped fighting and we never stopped defending. I'm so proud of our crew. They never flinched."
The next leg begins from Auckland to Itajai, Brazil begins March 18.
The fleet will contest an in-port race in Auckland on March 10.
MAPFRE (Spain) 39, Dong Feng (China) 34, SHK Scallywag (Hong Kong) 26, AkzoNobel (Netherlands) 23, Vestas 23 (USA/Denmark), Team Brunel (Netherlands) 20, Turn the Tide on Plastic (United Nations) 12.