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15 November 2005, 10:03 am
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

No one could have asked for a more dramatic start to the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006. After the hectic weekend the crews are finally seeing lighter winds and more hospitable conditions to really show off what they are capable of.

Its fast and its tactical with Brasil 1 (Torben GRAEL), ABN AMRO ONE (Mike SANDERSON) and Ericsson (Neal MCDONALD) at the front of the fleet battling it out for the lead. At 2200 last night the young guns on ABN AMRO TWO were in the lead by eight miles showing how Sebastien JOSSE and Simon FISHER (navigator) are making a formidable team, as the wind has dropped, they have slipped to fourth position, 24 nautical miles behind the Brazilian team.

The last 24 hours have been exciting at times, pretty damn scary at others, said navigator Simon FISHER. The atmosphere is good, albeit very wet and uncomfortable on board. Inevitably some of this water finds its way downstairs and as I type water is splashing up around my ankles. All in all this has been an awesome 24 hours for us, were pretty stoked to have been at the head of the fleet for this part of the race in such difficult conditions. Adrenaline is running high and the crew is happy to be on the water after such a long lead up to the race!

But it was all change by 0400 yesterday morning as Brasil 1 moved from third position to first, overtaking the youngsters yacht and ABN AMRO ONE (Mike SANDERSON) to take a one nautical mile lead which they were still clinging onto yesterday at 1600. At 1000 ABN AMRO ONE had a boost and moved into second, showing the boys who are the bosses, despite having their own problems.

Skipper Mike SANDERSON, reported a small fire at 1200 GMT yesterday, explaining that a bolt had dropped into the battery box and lodged between a battery terminal and the carbon fibre structure. Carbon fibre is conductive and the resulting short circuit took out the wiring and systems in navigation, communications and the media station. Once the fire was controlled, navigator Stan HONEY, managed to re-wire the damaged areas. Mike is understandably pleased to be back in contact with the world and also reported that the crew are working to repair the steering station.

Ericsson (Neal MCDONALD) the early leader has been in fourth for the past 24 hours but are gradually clawing their way back despite having one of their sails dragging in the water 30 hours ago and then having halyards and various sheets caught around their appendages ever since. They have finally, in the last few hours, been able to slow Ericsson down, as the conditions begin to improve, and have managed to get Jason CARRINGTON and Richard MASON over the side of the boat to cut away the sheets and untangle themselves. Over a six hour period they moved from fourth to third position, relegating ABN AMRO TWO.

As for the three yachts bringing up the rear, all is well as can be expected. Both Pirates of the Caribbean (Paul CAYARD) and movistar (Bouwe BEKKING) have officially suspended racing and in the last hour, movistar docked at Portimao in Portugal. In a radio interview yesterday morning BEKKING spoke about their contingency plan.

From (Portimao) there several options are open. Stick the boat on a truck, and drive it to the nearest big port for shipping it to Cape Town. Or do the repairs locally, which will mean flying in a big building team, and with the danger of not making it in time to Cape Town.

He followed with the obvious disappointment that he and his crew are feeling at the moment, Well so much for that, the boat with the most miles has gone to port. I am not the happiest person right now, scratching my head, why this could have happened after all these miles. Have we been pushing to hard? Yes of course we were pushing hard, but we have done that before. We were fully under control, sail changes in time and just sailing faster than the others, because we knew the limits of this boat and ourselves.

Sunergy and Friends (Grant WHARINGTON) is 250 miles behind the leaders and will stop in Madeira to repair their gooseneck. The crew tried valiantly to repair it and avoid the pit stop but yesterday afternoon the jury gooseneck failed forcing their hand. Other than that the crew is well and in good spirits despite the setback and sea sickness!

Glenn Bourke, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06 commented today on the dramatic events of the past few days.

The past few days have been very hard for some of the teams with the horrendous conditions out in the Atlantic. The points system introduced for the first time in 1997-98 went some way towards offering the opportunity of allowing a team, who has had problems, to still finish the race in a podium position.

This time we decided to weigh the majority of the points towards the end of the race as historically the boats tend to have breakdowns during the earlier legs. That was our logic and while its a pity we have three breakdowns in this leg, I have no doubt these boats will still be a big factor in our race. It is probably a blessing in disguise that these problems have happened early in the race and not in the inhospitable Southern Ocean thousands of miles from land.

I have to commend the great sportsmanship of Bouwe BEKKING (movistar) who, during this period, kept all the other teams fully informed of their problems in order that they not meet the same fate.

Cruising at 20 knots - 2200hrs 14 November 2005

Its all on at the front of the pack as the leading four are now enjoying close racing in more favourable conditions. In fact Mike SANDERSON (ABN AMRO ONE) says it would almost be beautiful sailing out there if we werent all so dead tired.

The crew has been working all afternoon to clear up the boat and get her back up to 100% after yesterdays gales. Dave ENDEAN, who strained his knee after taking a heavy wave while up on the bow is moving around the boat better today, having been attended to by the two medics onboard, Jan DEKKER and Justin SLATTERY, who have strapped it up in a knee brace. They are cruising along doing 20 knots with their biggest gennaker and staysail up.

Brasil 1 (Torben GRAEL) still leads the fleet, one nm ahead of ABN AMRO ONE, but ABN AMRO TWO (Sebastien JOSSE) has relegated Ericsson (Neal MCDONALD) to fourth position, 18 nm behind Brasil 1.

The Black Pearl (Paul CAYARD) has arrived safely in Cascais, Portugal, and Paul CAYARD has issued the following statement:

We are fully committed to returning to the Volvo Ocean Race as soon as possible. The shore team has arrived with our tools, clothes, containers and has set up an infrastructure so we are functional. Engineers from Farr Yacht Design as well as boat builders from Green Marine are on the way to our base. Later today or tomorrow morning we will conduct a full structural inspection. Following those results, we will make a decision on what needs to be done and then create a schedule for repairs in order to rejoin the race. Options are to return to leg one should the repairs be quickly feasible, or ship the boat to Cape Town and then reincorporate in leg two.

Over the past five months, Pirates of the Caribbean has assembled a strong and capable team and we have achieved a lot. Despite the challenges we have just faced, I am confident we have the ideal sailing and shore team to get us back in competition as quickly as possible.

This is probably just the first of many setbacks the competitors in this race will face. How well each rebounds will most likely have a determinant impact on the results. To that end, the Pirates are still racing even here at the dock. I know others have suffered damage at this stage and the Pirates wish them well.

Position Report At 0400 Gmt This Morning

Yacht

Latitude

Longitude

DTF

CMG

SMG

DTL

1

BRA1

30 37.57N

025 39.69W

5464

243

15.4

0

2

ABN1

30 53.84N

026 28.75W

5472

249

16.1

8

3

ABN2

30 58.10N

026 23.95W

5477

247

16.1

13

4

ERIC

30 55.24N

025 57.51W

5478

239

15.4

14

5

SUNF

33 03.51N

016 18.81W

5756

196

9

292

6

MOVI

37 07.22N

008 31.59W

6157

0

0

693

7

POTC

38 41.54N

009 24.95W

6213

0

0

749

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF) image: © Event Media
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