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9 December 2005, 04:12 pm
Drama On The High Seas And Back On Land
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006
Cape Town, South Africa

With the arrival celebrations now a distant memory, its business as usual in South African on the Cape Town dockside as shore crews tend to the battle scars from a ruelling and highly competitive first leg in the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006.
The victory spoils went to Dutch entrant ABN AMRO ONE who sailed into Cape Town 19 days after they set out from the start port of Vigo, Spain. A jubilant Mike SANDERSON (NZL) steered the boat across the finish line at 1324 UTC on the 1 December to take victory in the leg and beat their stable mates onboard ABN AMRO TWO by a little over six and a half hours.

After a tough time during the In Port race in Spain, where they could only manage one point for a sixth place finish, SANDERSON was delighted that Black Betty was able to add a further 10.5 to her overall points' tally for the leg and scoring gate win. 'The boat did an amazing job and was just on fire. We battled bad weather, broke the boat on the first night and even had a fire on board - we quite literally had everything.'

ABN AMRO TWO exceeded all expectations when they crossed the line just before 2000 UTC that same day, to take second place and with it the respect of their 'big brothers' on ABN AMRO ONE. 'It has just been a terrific experience having ABN TWO hot on our heels during the entire tune-up session and during the race,' commented Stan HONEY (USA), navigator on ABN AMRO ONE.

For the team on Brasil 1 it was a question of so near, yet so far as leg one navigator Adrienne CAHALAN (AUS) explained, 'We didn't stop the whole way on this leg and then it has taken seven hours to do the last 20 miles.' The Brazilian boat, under the direction of multiple Olympic medallist Torben GRAEL, finally glided across the finish line on the 2 December just before 0500 UTC and a third place was good enough for GRAEL. 'This leg was extremely good news for us and it is definitely important to be placed second overall at this stage,' he said.

A day later saw the Swedish entry Ericsson limp into port after skipper Neal MCDONALD (GBR) reported keel problems a few days' earlier. According to MCDONALD, Ericsson was 'at about 70% of her capacity'. Despite having to throttle back, a fourth place finish in the leg, sees Ericsson equal second overall with Brasil 1, although in the skipper's eyes, there is definitely room for improvement. 'I am disappointed. If we hadn't lost a spinnaker and had hydraulic problems with the keel, we would have been fighting for a place on the podium.'

Five days after the first boat had finished the Australian entry ING Real Estate Brunel (formerly Brunel Sunergy) was greeted in to port. For Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) and his team this was some achievement, given the number of hurdles they had to clear just to get the boat to the start line in Spain. Navigator Campbell FIELD (NZL, who kept fans highly entertained with his regular email dispatches from the high seas, summed up the feeling in the camp. 'It is a huge relief to finish and we are very happy to get here and in good shape. The boat went well and everyone sailed really well. Obviously we would have liked to have done better but we kept the boat together and got a fifth place and points on the board.'

Five of the seven boats which started the race are undergoing preparations for the start of the second leg, and the two that suffered damage in the storm in the first few days at sea (movistar and Pirates of the Caribbean) are also well on their way to recovery. The Spanish entry is on route to Cape Town aboard a diverted Wallenius Wilhelmsen freighter and is due in on the 14 December. Much of the repair work to the boat has been completed in Britain and Spain, and with the crew's arrival in Cape Town, Skipper Bouwe BEKKING (NED) is counting down the days until they can get her onto the water.

The shore crew of The Pirates of the Caribbean team have been working non stop since their boat was flown into the country. Skipper Paul CAYARD (USA) explained, 'We are pushing hard to wind up the major work by Sunday and put the Pearl back in the water. Our plan is to go for a harbour sail on Monday to make sure everything works and then go for an offshore sail on Tuesday-Thursday. We want to put the boat through a thorough check out in all conditions before leaving for Melbourne.'

Teams have also been making crucial selection decisions on which crew to take for leg two, notoriously one of the hardest and most physical legs in the race.

The Brazilians were the first team to announce a change, with the slightly surprising departure of navigator CAHALAN from the crew. CAHALAN will be replaced by Dutch sailor Marcel VAN TRIEST who sailed with GRAEL in the 1997-1998 race onboard Innovation Kvaerner.

GRAEL explained the decision, 'This change has nothing to do with the results of the first leg or with Adrienne's performance; both were excellent. We just require someone who is more appropriate for the strong wind conditions that we will encounter. The reasons for this change were not technical but physical.

'Marcel is a very experienced navigator, especially in the Southern Ocean, our big challenge in the next leg. Furthermore, he is physically very strong, something that's important for the crew.'

Anthony MERRINGTON (AUS) joins the Pirates crew as replacement for Sweden's Freddy LÖÖF who decided to withdraw from the team to focus on his Olympic ambitions. CAYARD explained his new selection. 'Anthony first joined the shore crew in early October in Spain. Anthony has more than 120,000 offshore nautical miles of experience and is a veteran of the Volvo Ocean Race, having sailing with SEB in 2001-2002.'

While the shore teams have been left with a long list of repairs, modifications and job lists, the sailing team members are getting some well deserved rest. So what does the offshore sailor do to relax? Whilst most people would take time off lying in the sunshine and reading a good book, these guys are adrenaline junkies, and the order of the day is shark diving, game fishing and sky diving. Oh, and there's always Table Mountain to climb.

Leg One Finish Report

Pos Team Nation Skipper Leg Pts Arrival Time Leg Time
1 ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 10.5 01/12/2005 - 1324 UTC 019d 00h 24m 02s
2 ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastian JOSSE (FRA) 8 01/12/2005 - 1956 UTC 019d 06h 56m 34s
3 Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 7.5 02/12/2005 - 0458 UTC 019d 15h 58m 48s
4 Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 7 03/12/2005 - 0547 UTC 020d 16h 47m 38s
5 Sunergy and Friends AUS Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) 4.5 06/12/2005 - 1251 UTC 024d 01h 33m 55s
6 movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 1 - -
7 Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 1 - -

Current Leaderboard

Pos Team Nation Skippers Pts
1 ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 11.5
2 Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 10.5
2 Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 10.5
4 ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastien JOSSE (FRA) 9.5
5 ING Real Estate Brunel AUS Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) 4.5
6 Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 3.5
7 movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 3

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

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, ABN AMRO ONE won leg one in style:© Jon Nash
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