DongFeng Race Team picked a good time to find their first leg win of the Volvo Ocean Race.
In a three-way tie for first place heading into the final leg from Gothenburg, Sweden, to the Hague in the Netherlands, the Chinese boat were rewarded for taking an early risk to win the overall title.
Around the midway point of the leg, the fleet were forced to make a decision of which way to sail around an exclusion zone. DongFeng went east down the longer route hugging the coastline, while the other contenders in Blair Tuke's MAPFRE and Peter Burling's Team Brunel went west.
Early it looked as though Daryl Wislang's DongFeng had made the wrong call as they fell over 50 nautical miles behind MAPFRE and Brunel. However, the closer they got to the Hague, the smaller the gap became.
Ahead of the final turning mark, DongFeng had more or less drawn level with MAPFRE, who were leading the western bunch, but were sailing at a better angle to catch the breeze.
Taking the long route, while more miles, allowed them to catch the breeze and not have to worry about gybing around the final mark before heading to the finish, as they approached it straight on.
Risky as it was, it proved to be the right call for DongFeng, with skipper Charles Caudrelier steering them home to their first leg win and the Volvo Ocean Race title.
"Left the leg win to the last leg when it all counted," Wislang said.
"Obviously it's an amazing feeling coming into The Hague and winning the final leg and taking the overall title. It was such a close race in this leg, as it has been the whole way through."
"It was amazing to be 12 miles from the finish and see the other boats on the horizon and know that you're crossing them. An amazing feeling."
With the win, Wislang secured his second-straight overall title, having won it with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the 2014-15 edition. Fellow Kiwi Stu Bannatyne was also onboard DongFeng, and while he didn't sail every leg, he was there with the team in the one that mattered in the end.
Burling and Tuke, in their first Volvo Ocean Races, fell just short of claiming the elusive triple crown of sailing, as they looked to add the title to their 2016 Olympic gold and 2017 America's Cup titles.