Winner of the first in port race, Swedish entry Ericsson, has a psychological advantage and this will give the team a confidence boost as they line up for the start. This will be the British skipper Neal MCDONALD's fourth round the world race and he has put together a team of experienced sailors, all of whom have sailed at least once in this event.
Brazil's first entry in this event (second in the in port race), is led by five times Olympic medalist Torben GRAEL (BRA). Although GRAEL is a relative newcomer to offshore sailing, he is a definite cause for concern among his opponents. His Australian navigator, Adrienne CAHALAN, is certainly no stranger to offshore sailing, having circumnavigated the globe on several occasions.
CAHALAN has had her head in charts since she arrived in Sanxenxo and has been keeping a close eye on the weather patterns, 'there will be some very tactical points on this first leg, especially going north to south in the Atlantic, some of it will be boat speed related but much of it is tactical. For the first few days we may see a drag race but then a lot can happen and I am really looking forward to it.'
The very experienced team of Pirates of the Caribbean was one of the last to arrive in Sanxenxo. Skipper Paul CAYARD (USA), who won the race in 1997-1998 onboard EF Language, has surrounded himself with a highly skilled team.
It is predicted that 1,500 boats will watch the start, with many cheering on the home favourite movistar. Dutch skipper, Bouwe BEKKING, is one of the most talented sailors in the race having completed four round the world races. Already movistar has broken the 24 hour speed record, clocking up the most sea miles amongst the fleet.
After a disappointing performance during the inshore race, the two ABN AMRO teams will be hoping that the predicted breezy conditions at the start of the leg will suit their boats and help them get off to a quick start. Mike SANDERSON (NZL) skipper of ABN AMRO ONE commented, 'The forecast looks exciting and it will be interesting to see what pace everyone goes out at. It will be a very interesting first night and the trick will be to match the pace of the others.'
The young crew onboard ABN AMRO TWO, all aged between 21-31 are keen to get going. For many it will be their first round the world race but under the leadership of single handed sailor Sebastien JOSSE (FRA) they are guaranteed to be highly competitive.
Navigator Simon FISHER (GBR) said, 'Everyone on our boat is looking forward to getting out racing. I think we will have conditions that our boats will revel in.'
The final boat to the start line will be the Australian entry, Premier Challenge. On Friday morning the boat was renamed Sunergy and Friends after Dutch company Sunergy stepped in to provide some much needed funds for Grant WHARINGTON's (AUS) team. For months it has been touch and go as to whether WHARINGTON would make it to the start in Vigo.
Rotterdam based Benno WIERSMA, founder and shareholder of Sunergy, a company which specializes in solar-cell technology said, 'We have all been impressed by the drive and ambition of this crew to get ready against all odds. They are an incredibly professional and determined group of guys and have a strong and exceptionally well built boat. This mirrors our ambition to let the world know that solar energy is a must. We have to strive to achieve our goals.'
The first ocean leg of the Volvo Ocean Race gets underway at 1400 hours local time when HM King Juan Carlos I will fire the starting gun from the Swedish tall ship Götheborg.
Even though the fleet will disappear over the horizon quickly, their progress can be followed online at www.volvooceanrace.org and on television. Avid internet surfers can download Virtual Spectator and follow the race from their PC's. They will be able to watch and analyze the progress of each leg in six-hourly sections, with the ability to see the race unfold from onboard as well as from a global viewpoint.
For armchair sailors, unique television deals have been set up with partner broadcasters, enabling viewers all over the world to watch on a weekly basis.
ABN AMRO ONE
ABN AMRO TWO
Ericsson Racing Team
Pirates of the Caribbean
Sunergy and Friends
For a complete list of all the news about the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006 CLICK HERE.