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5 November 2005, 04:18 pm
Ericsson Wins Terrific Opening Race
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006
Sanxenxo, Galicia, Spain

The Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006 got underway in Sanxenxo, Galicia, Spain today with the Swedish entrant Ericsson winning a tremendous first in-port race just a few minutes ago. They only just got away with a start very close to the committee boat, but with John KOSTECKI (USA) calling the shots, headed out left, got the breeze and just walked away from the fleet.
nFollow the race with minute by minute updates…

1605 GMT

The finish gun goes, Ericsson crosses well in the lead after a tremendous race. It was a masterly performance which showed the rest of the fleet that, in very light winds at least, this Farr boat has the legs on the rest. For the rest, it was a solid light weather performance from Brasil 1 to take second, but the Spanish movistar will be disappointed at being rolled by the Pirates at the last mark before the finish, dropping them to fourth. As for the two Dutch ABN AMRO boats it can only be a serious worry that they were so poor in the light. Mike SANDERSON (NZL) must be hoping that they never meet these conditions again. Unofficial times are:

1. Ericsson
2. Brasil 1 - 2.40 behind
3. Pirates - 4.10 behind
4. Movistar - 4.55 behind

1600 GMT

At the second windward mark movistar and the Pirates came in behind Brasil 1, neck and neck, with movistar pre-hoisting their asymmetric in stops, but though they thought they were stealing a march, in fact Pirates carried their speed round the mark, came hard on the wind under mainsail and headsail and rolled over movistar. Then the Pirates set and, being to windward, served up vast amounts of dirty wind to the hapless Spanish boat. The Race committee has just announced a shorten course at the end of the downwind leg, so we will have a result in any moment.

1550 GMT

movistar has persevered with the massive headsail that we might have called a Code Zero if they were not prohibited by the Volvo Open 70 rule. Pirates have sailed this leg with a more conventional set-up of a headsail tacked to the bow, not the bowsprit. Pirates have eaten away at the lead movistar held over them during this leg and now are neck and neck with the Spanish boat. Brasil 1 is well in front of movistar and could have closed on Ericsson. Ericsson is already round the second windward mark and heading back downwind with their asymmetric tacked to the bowsprit - no spinnaker pole in use today.

1530 GMT

Textbook rounding from Ericsson, conservative, but effective. Five minutes behind, Brasil 1 comes to the mark, having misjudged their line; movistar sees a gap and tries to round inside. They do not quite make it and Brasil 1 staggers off up the windward leg having lost a lot of boat speed, but they have not lost enough to allow movistar to get past. Pirates are still fourth and the two ABN boats bring up the rear. We do not like to rub it in, but ABN AMRO ONE rounded the leeward mark some 12 minutes and 33 seconds behind. Ericsson started up the windward leg taking the left side and Brasil 1 followed suit. The headsail choice has changed from the first leg, with all boats now using huge headsails set from the bowsprit end to the masthead. These have to be furled when the boats tack, making the manoeuvre more than a little slow.

1515 GMT

Ericsson still leads by over four minutes, having extended their lead by virtually a minute. Brasil 1 has extended by almost a minute over movistar, but the wind looks as though it is dying slightly. ABN AMRO ONE has closed up on the leader by about half a minute, ABN AMRO TWO have fallen back by about 30 seconds. Will the Race Committee shorten the course? The sun is getting low and the mist is creeping in. Surely they can't manage the full 35 miles? Ericsson have a worry now; in light wind races such as these, the wind can shift hugely and die on one part of the course while building on another. Gains and losses can be huge, and until the finish gun goes, nothing is sure.

1500 GMT

With Ericsson off in the distance it is the battle for the minor places that holds the attention. Torben GRAEL (BRA) and Brasil 1 have pulled out some distance on movistar, about ten boat lengths, and Pirates have dropped back after having had problems with their asymmetric spinnaker. Brasil seem to be very swift off the wind, but it is very close and there is still a long way to go. The boats are gybing now at the wind mark. Still bringing up the back are the two ABN boats. Worrying? The official timings for the boats at the first mark are: 1, Ericsson 15:45 00 2, Brasil 1 15:49 00 3, Movistar 15:50 00 4, Pirates 15:50 30 5, ABN 2 15:54 6, ABN 1 15:56

1443 GMT

Ericsson hit the port layline to the windward mark - coming to the mark from way out to the right of the course - they make a superb spinnaker hoist and head down the reaching leg well in front. movistar have made a comeback on the latter stages of the leg, but are prevented from tacking by one of the police boats which allows Brasil 1 to come round in second. The time difference between first and second is an amazing five minutes and four seconds over Brasil 1, who are just twelve seconds in front of third, Pirates come to the mark on port tack and cannot get in front of movistar. ABN AMRO ONE are still having a dire race, they look like being six or seven minutes behind the leader.

1430 GMT

Ericsson is coming back towards the middle of the course, while GRAEL and Brasil 1 went miles off to the left but is now coming back towards the middle. ABN AMRO ONE is having a shocker, they might have daggerboard problems, but this boat, certainly optimized for heavier weather, is the big surprise in being so slow. Paul CAYARD (USA) is dogging movistar and perhaps assessing their set-up, but now with Ericsson about half a mile in the lead, Brasil 1 has tacked on top of movistar to defend their second position. It looks as though KOSTECKI's tactics, Tim POWELL's (GBR) steering and Neal MACDONALD's (GBR) captaincy is doing the business.

1425 GMT

Ericsson leads the fleet, having sailed out on their own to the left side, while a small battle bnetween Brasil 1, movistar and Pirates takes place up the middle of the course. ABN AMRO ONE and TWO. Ericsson have at last tacked back towards the rest of the fleet which is about a mile away.

1215 GMT

ABN AMRO ONE is setting a huge sail from the end of their bowsprit, but do not seem to make any progress. Ericsson has made up the ground they lost at the start. Brasil 1 have gone off on their own, but it is movistar at the moment.

1410 GMT

The five minute signal has been fired and the boats are lining up for the start. It is still very light winds, and the two ABN AMRO boats are looking very sticky in the light conditions. They are after all optimized for light winds. CAYARD tipped GRAEL to win, but who knows! ABN's boats and the Pirates are on the starboard end of the line, the others on Port.

1400 GMT

The story goes that they have broken the start cannon aboard the start vessel Gothenburg, causing yet another delay. But things are getting underway any moment now. The race is on! Probable start at 1415 GMT.

1340 GMT

What wind there is seems to be stabilizing now so the Race Committee are fiddling about with buoys and things, preparing to set a start line.

Out on the water the spectator fleet is growing by the minute, but their habit of getting up close and personal is causing problems. Just now, a small ferry, intent on getting a good glimpse of King Juan Carlos of Spain, almost finished the challenge of movistar before it started, only quick action preventing a somewhat embarrassing incident.

According to our intrepid reporter, out there in the thick of things, it is bedlam!

1245 GMT

The postponement flag still flies from the yardarm on the replica ship Gothenburg, the spectators are taking advantage of the best weather Sanxenxo has seen for weeks, BUT THERE'S NO WIND!

Spectators have taken to the water in just about everything that floats. There are big yachts, small yachts, things that our reporter Riath refers to as barges; powerboats, RIBS, jet skis, even people paddling about in rubber dinghies. BUT THERE'S NO WIND!

Aboard the six Volvo Open 70s - Australia's Premier Challenge have decided not to race - the crews are lounging on the decks taking the sun, spotting Spanish beauties; those with celebrities on board have exhausted all their stories of derring-do - apart from, one suspects, CAYARD who doubtless will still be regaling Infanta Doña Cristina with some of his more suitable tales of sailing and racing. BUT THERE'S NO WIND!

1200 GMT

Thousands of spectators line the vantage points around the shore at Sanxenxo, over 500 boats are afloat, six Volvo Open 70s are ready to race - but there's no wind.

The Race Committee aboard the replica ship Gothenburg have instigated an indefinite postponement and everybody sits in the sun waiting for the new wind to fill in as forecast.

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

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Ericsson rounds the mark on the way to victory in the first in port race in Sanxenxo:© Patrick Anderson
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