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9 March 2006, 10:45 am
Breeze At Last Sees ABN AMRO ONE Extend Lead
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

The breeze is up for the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, but for how long? Overnight, the wind picked up to 22 knots making it unpleasant in the lumpy seas for the teams struggling to reach Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the finish of leg four. ABN AMRO ONE has built on their lead, with 74 miles now separating them from second place Pirates.
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'There's nothing quite like bashing upwind into a lumpy sea when it is really hot and you have to have the boat all shut up,' says Mike SANDERSON (NZL), skipper of the leading boat.

'The Volvo Open 70 was not made to go fast upwind, and that is exactly what the crews are having to do today,' says Volvo Ocean Race meteorologist, Chris BEDFORD. Add to that a short and steep chop, the final approach to Rio is fast becoming a bone-jarring affair.

BEDFORD says there is still every indication that the breeze will shut down in the closing miles to Rio. If this does occur, the fleet will quickly compress, giving a welcome opportunity for the following boats to catch the leaders and giving SANDERSON something to worry about. 'It's not clear if there will be an obvious lane through these light winds at the finish,' says BEDFORD, adding, 'It could all come down to little bit of luck as random puffs and shifts will decide who goes forward and who is left behind.'

Order Unchanged

The order remains unchanged today, but the whole fleet has made gains and SANDERSON is watching the opposition carefully, 'We know we have an 80 mile [now reduced to 74 miles] gap back to the Pirates and if the conditions were to be plain sailing, that would be a pretty comfortable lead, but as we know only too well after losing a 30 mile lead with 90 miles to go to the finish, just as in the last leg into Wellington, this one is far from over.'

Torben GRAEL's (BRA) Brasil 1 is breathing down the neck of ABN AMRO TWO, only four miles behind and just over the horizon. They will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to be on the podium at the finish of the leg in their home port of Rio. ABN AMRO TWO is responding, attacking each manoeuvre with the full aggression of an inshore move. The stack of spare sails is flying quickly from one side of the boat to the other in the hope that they might gain an extra few miles. Neal MCDONALD's (GBR) Ericsson Racing Team is just 39 nautical miles behind Brasil 1, but sailing at almost the same speed.

Slow Going On Movistar

Progress on Bouwe BEKKING's (NED) movistar has been painfully slow as they sail north in search of warmer weather as the wind is coming from the direction the team wants to go. The surprising thing seems to be the boat's performance with the keel locked in the middle. Somebody onboard movistar was heard to comment yesterday that this fixed keel concept might actually catch on someday. .

The highlight of the remaining part of this leg for the Spanish team will be the day that Pepe RIBES (ESP) allows them to break into the leg of cured ham kindly given to the team by a Spanish icebreaker while they were in Ushuaia, Argentina. 'I am told,' writes Mikey JOUBERT (RSA), 'This is a very special gift to have received. We are also told by Pepe that there is a special ceremony required when opening and cutting it for the first time. He is keeping us all in mouth watering suspense when, every morning, he announces that 'tomorrow will be the day'. If he does not hurry up, he will wake up to find a large piece missing and some very content people on deck.'

Position Report At 1000 Hours UTC, 9 March 2006

Team Nation Skipper Latitude Longitude DTF DTL DTLC CMG SMG VMG ETA
ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 28 38.02S 44 35.01W 353 0 0 46 11 14.9 10/03/2006 - 2325 UTC
Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 29 34.01S 45 53.01W 427 74 6 39 11.1 14.7 11/03/2006 - 0649 UTC
ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastian JOSSE (FRA) 30 11.30S 45 46.01W 459 106 4 40 10.8 14.7 11/03/2006 - 1011 UTC
Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 30 14.02S 45 50.02W 463 110 6 38 11.1 14.6 11/03/2006 - 1038 UTC
Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 30 53.01S 45 56.09W 502 149 5 29 10.6 14.6 11/03/2006 - 1443 UTC
movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 47 33.15S 55 59.03W 1602 1249 -8 5 8.8 12.1 15/03/2006 - 1828 UTC

DTF: Distance To Finish
DTL: Distance To Leader
DTLC: Distance To Leader Change; the difference between the distance from the boat to the leader taken at the time of the last six hour poll, and the distance from the boat to the leader at the previous poll
CMG: Course Made Good; the average course steered over the period of the past six hours up to the time of the last poll
SMG: Speed Made Good
VMG: Velocity Made Good; the average velocity of the boat towards the finish over the entire leg
ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival

Overall Leaderboard
(Up to and including Leg Four Scoring Gate - not yet ratified)

Pos Team Nation Skipper Pts
3 movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 26
5 Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 24.5
4 Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 22.5
6 Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 18
7 ING Real Estate Brunel AUS Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) 11.5

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

Lizzie GREEN (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The Black Pearl sails gently towards Rio:© Justin CLOUGHER
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