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18 November 2005, 02:31 pm
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

"The guys have got the boat just 'on fire'. We are seeing speeds of up to 25 knots in just 17 knots of wind," wrote Dutch team ABN AMRO ONE's elated skipper, Mike SANDERSON (NZL) late last night. It is payback time for this team as their pre-race plan begins to show dividends and Torben GRAEL's (BRA) Brasil 1, their nearest rival, is now 78 miles behind them, losing out 15 nm in the last six hours.
The second Dutch boat, ABN AMRO TWO skippered by Sebastien JOSSE (FRA), now averaging the slowest speed of the leading three, finds herself 86 nm behind her team mates, while Neal MCDONALD (GBR) and Ericsson is only managing to average 15.1 knots and now brings up the rear of the leading four, 93 nm adrift.

Sunergy and Friends are now sailing in a completely different wind pattern with the breeze at less than ten knots, leaving them 868 nm behind ABN AMRO ONE following their pitstop in Madeira to repair the boat.

With the boat speeds nearly matching, and, in the case of ABN AMRO ONE, exceeding, the wind speeds over the last 24 hours, the leading pack of four is quickly making its way through the trade winds. Conditions yesterday were as good as they get, with flat seas, sun, and wind speeds in the high teens. Still, no one is sitting back and enjoying the ride, as decisions made now will have a big impact on the next few days.

Over the last 24 hours the east/west split of the fleet has narrowed dramatically as the boats all struggle to choose the best lane to cross the doldrums - the light wind zone which lies between the current positions of the boats and the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha. The northern edge of the doldrums is still sitting at about seven degrees north (between 26W-31W, the yachts longitude), so speeds will decrease once the boats arrive at the doldrums in the next day or so.

Position Report At 1000 Hours UTC, 18 November 2005

Team Nation Skipper Latitude Longitude DTF DTL DTLC CMG SMG VMG ETA
ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 11 29.50N 30 04.22W 4291 0 0 172 19.2 15.1 No Data
Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 12 46.05N 29 42.02W 4369 78 -15 179 16 14.5 No Data
ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastian JOSSE (FRA) 12 58.19N 30 12.04W 4377 86 -19 174 15.6 14.5 No Data
Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 13 02.33N 29 50.33W 4384 93 -22 175 15.1 14.4 No Data
Sunergy and Friends AUS Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) 25 34.14N 26 23.37W 5159 868 -76 197 5.7 8.9 No Data
movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 37 07.38N 08 31.48W 6157 1866 -110 0 0 1.8 No Data
Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 38 41.32N 09 24.56W 6213 1922 -110 0 0 1.4 No Data
Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, ABN AMRO ONE are putting the hammer down at the head of the race:© Jon Nash
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