There were a few grumpy sea dogs complaining about how unfair the finish to the last leg of the Volvo Ocean Race in Newport was when we saw the lead change in the last 500m due to thick fog, a strong current and no wind.

Well, that's just part of ocean racing. Back in the days of the huge sailing clippers that delivered tea and other goods around the world, sailors didn't stop when they crossed an imaginary line out at sea. They couldn't count a 'win' until they were safely docked up and the goods had fetched a good price at the markets.

You could say Mapfre got the best price in the last leg. It was an astonishing victory, especially given their troubles through the Doldrums where they lost huge ground and also had to sail most of the leg with a mechanical breakdown because of a problem with their keel.

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They never gave up and it proved the proverb that, the harder you work the luckier you get.

Points are incredibly tight, with Mapfre only three points ahead of Dongfeng Race Team, I believe they are again the favourites to take home the overall trophy.

Fans pack the shore at Fort Adams to watch the race at the Volvo Ocean Race's Gurney's Resorts In-Port Race on May 19, 2018 in Newport, Rhode Island. Photo / Getty Images
Fans pack the shore at Fort Adams to watch the race at the Volvo Ocean Race's Gurney's Resorts In-Port Race on May 19, 2018 in Newport, Rhode Island. Photo / Getty Images

They are hungry for victory, especially after all their troubles over the last couple of legs that also included a ripped mainsail, and it would be amazing to see Blair Tuke achieve an unprecedented triple crown of Olympic gold, America's Cup victory and the Volvo Ocean Race.

Although Peter Burling's Team Brunel are still in with an outside chance, nine points behind Mapfre, it's really coming down to the grudge match between the two red boats, Mapfre and Dongfeng Race Team.

There are interesting subplots at play. Mapfre skipper Xabi Fernandez has never won it in five times of trying and Charles Caudrelier has also never won it as a skipper and he knows he has a massive opportunity this time around with a sponsor who spared no expense in the pursuit of victory.

Either way, it's going to be historic.

The next leg to Cardiff is going to be pivotal, especially with double points on offer. I've sailed across the North Atlantic a number of times and it can be awesome, but it can also be cruel.

Team Brunel, who took first place, sails by the Claiborne Pell Bridge and Rose Island Lighthouse. Photo / Getty Images
Team Brunel, who took first place, sails by the Claiborne Pell Bridge and Rose Island Lighthouse. Photo / Getty Images

Anyone who thinks they've 'made it' as a sailor because they've been through the Southern Ocean needs to maintain their concentration for the final stretch because it's a stretch of water that deserves the utmost respect.

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Most of my troubles when sailing around the world have been in the North Atlantic rather than the Southern Ocean and it's where I dismasted in a storm on last year's Vendee Globe.

It's going to be a 3500 nautical mile sleigh ride, with plenty of low-pressure systems racing across from North America to northern Europe, and whoever can hook onto one of these and stay there the longest will win. Conversely, anyone who falls off the back will be left behind meaning we could see a much bigger spread in the boats than the nail-bitingly close finish in Newport.

Interestingly, the fleet will be sailing over where the Titanic sank. There won't be any ice this time because of global warming but this leg could still sink a team's hopes.

Conrad Colman was the first Kiwi to sail in the Vendee Globe solo, non-stop round the world race.