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8 December 2005, 04:59 pm
BEKKING Plays The Waiting Game
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006
Cape Town, South Africa

Bouwe BEKKING (NED) is in Cape Town, South Africa waiting for the newly repaired VO 70 movistar to arrive so that he can get back to the fray. BEKKING and the crew of the Spanish entrant are left with the feeling they have unfinished business waiting for them.
BEKKING (NED) will leave Cape Town today and head off to a game reserve where he will inevitably garner yet more tips on survival to add to those he picked up during the 300 tortuous miles he and his crew on movistar completed in the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.

His boat, which is currently on a ship slicing through the Atlantic, arrives next week and BEKKING will be mightily relieved to get back on the helm, having spent the past three weeks mostly on the phone.

It has been a difficult time, BEKKING admits, seeing the fleet sprint down at breakneck speeds to Cape Town while movistar's shore crew in Portugal carried out the repairs to the keel ram support structure, the rudder, canard and headfoil following the incident 15 hours into the race, when falling off a massive wave, they heard an 'enormous crack' and knew immediately they had broken something.

At first, they thought the boat had suffered structural damage from the impact, but when the boat was taken out of the water, they found part of the rudder and the daggerboard were missing suggesting an impact with something in the water - a container, a whale, some other flotsam.

Whatever it was, the upshot was a retirement from the leg and an indescribable sense of disappointment.

'It was pretty hard,' said movistar's steely skipper.

'Everyone was quiet when it happened and when the breeze died down, we started to talk about how we had sailed during the first 15 hours. Slowly and surely, all the good things that had happened came out.

'Shit happens, we decided, and we just have to carry on and make the best of this. We thought about starting again in the leg, but we knew in our hearts that it would be difficult to finish the first leg, which is why we sent the guys home. There was no point having the guys hanging around and getting more grumpy so it was better in my opinion if they were at home with their families and doing all plenty of fitness work so they are fit and rested when they arrive here.

'We knew we had damage on the boat and we knew it was not our mistake because we were sailing well. No one was angry about it. There haven't been any angry words at all though obviously we were a little upset.

'Everything was looking really good for us. We were highly motivated and very satisfied with how the programme was going, and that was reflected in the media coverage.'

BEKKING kept in close contact with developments in the first leg and admits he was mystified by the slow progress of the Farr boats compared to Juan KOUYOUMDJIAN's ABN AMRO boats.

'I expected the ABN AMRO boats to do well and they sailed them very nicely, but I was surprised that the Farr boats didn't manage to sail more than 500 miles in a day.

'We don't know why they were slower and that is one of the questions you have to ask yourself. It may be because they really throttled down after what happened to us, but we will have to see what happens in the next leg. The amount that we sailed away from the other Farr boats in those first few hours was surprising to us. We were 35 miles ahead of Ericsson, but we will see in the next leg whether the ABN AMRO boats really are faster than us.

'It is impossible to say whether we could have won that leg. We knew the first 48 hours would be very important and that the ones who got a stretch over everyone else were always likely to do well overall. But that is history.'

BEKKING refutes the accusation that he and his ambitious crew were over revving movistar during those opening hours.

'We may have been pushing hard compared to the other guys on that first night, but we had confidence in our gear and the crew and we had sailed many times before like that. We knew we were ready for the race, as were ABN AMRO ONE so we were going for it.

'We weren't pushing her too hard. If we had pushed her too hard, she would have broken down. We took the spinnaker down just before our collision and swapped it for a smaller sail. We had the right sail combination on so we were more than capable of doing it which is why it came as a surprise. Some people say we should have taken more sail down, but it is a yacht race and we were comfortable with the way we were sailing. It was not like something went wrong. We were in control. I don't believe there was anything we could have done.'

movistar arrives in Cape Town on 14 December. As soon as she arrives, she will go into the water and spend the next few days testing the robustness of the repairs and the sail plan which has already been designed for the next leg.

They will be keen to pick up points for the In Port race on Boxing Day to add to their current tally of three points. Despite the early setback, BEKKING is convinced movistar has the performance to carry off the Volvo title. It all hinges on the next leg, which is shaping up to be a classic.

For a complete list of all the news about the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006 CLICK HERE.

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Leg one came to a rapid conclusion for movistar:© MoviStar Sailing
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