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27 February 2006, 10:46 am
Welcome To The Deep South
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet is careering south at breakneck speeds, with ABN AMRO ONE are back at the front and enjoying being the most southerly of the VO 70s, careering along at over 22 knots and pulling out another eleven miles on second place Pirates in the last six hours. However for skipper Mike SANDERSON (NZL) the question of what to do next is by no means straightforward.
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With ABN AMRO ONE the furthest boat south, SANDERSON is in a dilemma: 'How hard to push? What are the other guys doing? Is going as fast as movistar was in the last sked [position report] good enough to hang on? Wait a minute, we don't have to beat them in this leg, nor the other teams either, we just have to keep this thing in one piece… but there are 3.5 bonus points waiting at Cape Horn for the leader.. those points would make our lives a little easier.. but what if we push too hard and break?'

Bouwe BEKKING's (NED) movistar is reveling in the true southern ocean conditions. They covered 140.8 miles in one six hour period, averaging 25.5 knots. 'Just ripping the miles, this is what we love to do,' wrote an elated BEKKING in the early hours of this morning.

Tough Time For Ericsson

Neal MCDONALD's (GBR) Ericsson Racing Team managed a Chinese gybe and remarkably recovered the boat without breaking any gear. In the 2001-2002 event, SEB lost her mast in the same situation. No one was hurt on Ericsson and the team sorted out the boat and brought her back up to speed in two hours, but it cost them many miles and they are now behind Brasil 1 and losing to the leading three boats.

'It's been the hardest 24 hours of the race for all of us, and the brutal facts are that, with 2000 miles to Cape Horn, this sort of drama is far from over,' wrote Steve HAYLES (GBR), Ericsson's navigator.

Problems For ABN AMRO TWO And Brasil 1

Sebastien JOSSE's (FRA) ABN AMRO TWO has continuing problems with their mainsail, which ripped two days ago. Yesterday, after a brief period of sunshine and lighter breeze, the crew attempted to repair the metre-long hole in the mainsail, but less than 24 hours after successfully making the repair, holes are opening up elsewhere and they are now sailing with two reefs in until the weather improves enough to attempt another repair. 'The outlook doesn't look good for the sail,' wrote navigator Simon FISHER (GBR). 'Right now, it may as well be made of newspaper - at least we would have something to read,' he concluded.

There is chaos below on Brasil 1. Norwegian watch leader, Knut FROSTAD (NOR), says that a call to the health and food authorities might be a good idea. 'Can someone please remind me, in four years from now, that I don't really need to do this anymore. I do really like a big, warm, nice bed and dry clothes, and I do love nice food…. it's true, I do! Why are you laughing and thinking 'idiot, you said this four years ago.''

The most southerly yacht in the fleet is leader, ABN AMRO ONE, with the second Dutch boat, ABN AMRO TWO 145 nautical miles to the north. Movistar is nearest to ABN AMRO ONE, with Paul CAYARD's (USA) Pirates of the Caribbean to windward of her and Ericsson Racing Team is behind these two. Brasil 1 sails a similar course to ABN AMRO TWO, but is in fourth place.

The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times

If you are sailing towards the front of the fleet, as Pirates of the Caribbean is, then you could be having the best of times. 'It is still easy sailing, 20-25 knots of wind and 20-22 knots of boat speed,' wrote skipper CAYARD yesterday. But as the Pirates approached the longitude of San Francisco, CAYARD was reminded of home. 'I always think about home when I get to this point on this leg and we approach the 122 longitude line, the longitude of San Francisco. I think a little more about my family on this day. I miss them more on this day.'If you are sailing at the back of the fleet, as ABN AMRO TWO is, having lost many miles to the rest of the fleet trying to get pass an ice gate, then it is probably the worst of times, although their consolation prize is hitting the mythical 40 knots of boat speed barrier. Navigator FISHER describes what it was like.

'At some point last night [Saturday night], no doubt careering down a wave with the driver unable to see where he was going, we topped out at 40.6 knots. Guided by only a few numbers on the back face of the mast, it is like some sort of crazy roller coaster, only there are no tracks and you are in control.

'As you accelerate down a wave, the spray starts coming at you hard. You hear it beating against your visor and you put your head down to avoid the worst of it. When you look up, you cannot see the numbers, just a blur of lights. You hope for the next wave of spray to clear your visor and that you're on track as you come to the bottom of the wave. By now you are ducking down, knowing the bottom of the wave is imminent and you are praying you are not going to land too hard.

'Before you crash into the bottom, you catch a glimpse of your course, you're OK, on track, speed 30 something, then bang! The wave comes charging back at you, you grip the wheel hoping you don't get washed off again. Then it's over, you dust yourself off and set off to repeat the whole cycle again.'

The difference in the conditions between the leading pack and the chasing pack is because the boats that came through the second ice waypoint at the back of the fleet did not have to gybe to starboard as they were being picked up by the north westerly breeze on the leading edge of the cold front and riding it hard. The leaders are now trying to line up in the correct place along the cold front and ride it all the way to Cape Horn. According to CAYARD, there should be more wind to the northwest, so the boats behind them should start to compress on the leaders.

Position Report At 1000 Hours UTC, 27 February 2006

Team Nation Skipper Latitude Longitude DTF DTL DTLC CMG SMG VMG ETA
ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 56 44.01S 114 39.02W 3806 0 0 111 22.4 15.5 10/03/2006
Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 55 42.01S 114 46.01W 3830 24 -11 106 20.6 15.4 10/03/2006
movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 56 13.09S 115 19.01W 3837 31 -14 111 19.9 15.3 10/03/2006
Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 54 14.02S 116 12.06W 3909 103 -15 114 19.8 15 10/03/2006
Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 54 52.03S 118 2.20W 3952 146 -23 110 18.5 14.8 11/03/2006
ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastian JOSSE (FRA) 53 31.02S 118 26.02W 3999 193 -24 118 18.3 14.5 11/03/2006

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 Three)

Pos Team Nation Skipper Pts
3 movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 25
5 Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 21.5
4 Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 20
6 Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 16.5
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 ABN AMRO ONE boys in good spirits:© TEAM ABN AMRO
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