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2 December 2005, 09:13 am
GRAEL stars for Brazil
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006
Cape Town, South Africa

The very first entry in the Volvo Ocean Race from Brazil finished leg one to Cape Town in the early hours of this morning at 0458 GMT, after spending most of the night almost becalmed. Brasil 1 with Torben GRAEL in charge, and Australia's Adrienne CAHALAN navigating, now lies in joint second place with Ericsson (Neal MCDONALD) who will finish late tonight or early tomorrow morning.

With 10.5 points on the table, both these boats are only one point adrift of ABN AMRO ONE (Mike SANDERSON) who leads overall with 11.5 points.

Skipper, Torben GRAEL, said, 'It was an extremely good race and it is very important for us to be in second place overall. The boat is in good shape and I am very pleased with the performance.' Navigator Adrienne CAHALAN added, 'We are very pleased with the result. It was a really tough race and everyone fought hard for podium positions and it was not over until the end. It was a very enjoyable but hard leg. I can't believe it has taken nearly seven hours to do the last 20 miles. We were quite relieved because even though we knew Ericsson was a long way behind, they could have appeared over the horizon at any time.''

Brasil 1's crew is made up of some of Brasil's best Olympic and offshore sailors. Skipper, Torben GRAEL, is the most successful Olympic sailor of recent years with a haul of five Olympic medals. However, the Volvo Ocean Race is an entirely different challenge and one that he has taken on with aplomb.

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The Brasil 1 crew begin celebrations in Cape Town.
Torben GRAEL - centre
© Event Media
This team also counts the only female sailor in the race this time, Australia's Adrienne CAHALAN, and as the navigator, CAHALAN is one of the most senior of the 10-strong crew.

Moving from third position into first early on day four, Brasil 1 held the lead on to it until 2200 GMT on day five before ABN AMRO ONE stole it back again. Rounding the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha in third position, Brasil 1 spent most of rest of the leg in close combat with ABN AMRO TWO (Sebastien JOSSE) and Ericsson (Neal MCDONALD) regularly swapping positions, and much of the time within eye contact.

On day 11, 22 November ABN AMRO ONE pushed south and Brasil 1 chose to take a more north easterly route. Excitement began to build as they started to steadily reduce the leader's advantage, closing quickly to within 37 nautical miles. On day 14, Brasil 1 moved into the lead, but was still 74 nm to the north of ABN AMRO ONE and 59 nm to the east and much closer to the windless centre of the South Atlantic High. The pecking order was finally established when ABN AMRO ONE regained the lead on day 14, 25 November, and held it to the end, with ABN AMRO TWO surging south in their wake.

However, after 6,400 nautical miles and nearly 20 days of racing, the first three boats still finished within hours of each other, confirming that this is just the first chapter in a long and dramatic race which will unfold over the coming months.

Event Media (As Amended by ISAF), Image: Brasil 1 en route to Cape Town © Oskar Kihlborg
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