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28 June 2005, 03:03 pm
ABN AMRO TWO Victorious
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Route De L'Equateur 2005
Pointe-Noire, Congo

Sébastien JOSSE (FRA) and the eleven crew members of the ABN-AMRO VOR 60 monohull crossed the finish line in Pointe-Noire, Congo on today at 02:30:01 hours GMT, winning the first edition of the Route de l'Equateur.
Competing against four other boats, including two V60's and two V50's, the team finished the 4,500 plus mile Route de l'Equateur race from Marseille, France to Pointe-Noire race in 22 days, 16 hours, 30 minutes and 1 second. Despite having less collective ocean racing experience, Team ABN AMRO TWO maintained a solid lead throughout the race.

This team is the first time an open selection process which started on an internet site has been used to determine a young, relatively inexperienced crew for a Volvo Ocean Race. The crew, including two American sailors George PEET and Andrew LEWIS, sailed the 60 foot V60 boat formerly known as the Tyco. Brad JACKSON, David ENDEAN and Jan DEKKER of the ABN AMRO ONE all sailed on board this Team Tyco boat during the last Volvo Ocean Race.

'For me personally, this trip was quite a learning curve,' said LEWIS. 'Before this, my longest trip was one and a half days of sailing; now it was three weeks, but it was a great experience for me. I was in charge of the food, and while we did have to ration at the end, we ate pretty well.'

With less than six months until the start of the Volvo Ocean Race, the crew used this time on the water getting to know and trust one another. For the eight young crew selected during an open selection process, this race was their first time across the equator. In the yachting world, this event is something of a rite of passage. This trip was no exception.

'The past three weeks were good, the last days were not so great since we had no wind,' said PEET. 'It is strange to know that you are in 24 hours range, but that it still takes three days to cover that distance. We were lucky in the beginning with a big breeze out of the Mediterranean. As for King Neptune at the equator, you really had to be on board to understand. He was quite tame to me though.'

The Volvo Ocean Race is a seven month long competition, covering more than 31,000 nautical miles. The teams will be at sea for up to 30 days at a time, so trust, communication and teamwork are a key factor for success.

Twelve young high potential professional sailors between the ages of 21 and 30 who have yet to sail around the world together, but have extensive sailing experience with smaller boats, make up the team for ABN AMRO TWO. Two sailors will not sail the entire race. Most of the sailors, including PEET and LEWIS, were selected from a worldwide competition. This was launched in November 2004 on the ABN AMRO website and received more than 1,800 submissions.

After four separate qualifying competitions - one for the Netherlands, one for Brazil, one for the United States and one for 'the rest of the world' - a total of 20 candidates travelled to Portugal for the final crew competition and eight made the cut this March. An additional four core crew members are more experienced offshore sailors who have also not sailed the Volvo Ocean Race before.

Kimberley Collins (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Winners ABN AMRO (right) along with Brest Nauticí:© Event Media
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