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27 February 2006, 04:20 pm
Bring On The Horn
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

Today the Volvo Ocean Race crews push further into the Southern Ocean, on their charge to Cape Horn approximately 1,400 nautical miles to the east, the first and only scoring gate of leg four. ABN AMRO ONE have continued to pull away slightly at the front and now hold a 28 mile lead over the Pirates.
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The crews are much happier now to see miles dropping away at near record breaking rates after the long slog to the ice gates. Sailors have been opening up their hearts in the past few days giving frank reports of what their lives are like out there in the huge waves, icy cold and thick fog.

For the young crew onboard Sebastien JOSSE's (FRA) ABN AMRO TWO life has been particularly hard, with rips in their main sail giving them even more problems. Having fixed a large tear 24 hours ago, other holes are opening up, forcing them to sail with two reefs in, as they battle with the elements. Navigator Simon FISHER (GBR) describes his environment at the back of the fleet by 208 nautical miles, 'We are certainly in the South now, the temperature is now icy cold, the sky is grey and brooding and the waves get steadily bigger each hour. The power of the wind is surprising given the wind strength making two reefs a viable option. At least we are going fast.

'Welcome to the deep South... Bring on the Horn!'

Ericsson's Troubles Continue

Neal MCDONALD's (GBR) Ericsson Racing Team is also having problems at the back, Chinese gybing Ericsson last night. No one was hurt and all they were left with was an awful mess and luckily no broken gear. Navigator Steve HAYLES (GBR) gave a vivid account of how the potentially race ruining event happened, just as they thought they had avoided the drama, 'We got going downwind but could not get the sails trimmed on quick enough which means they have a tendency to make the boat lean the opposite way to normal. When it does this it wants to turn dangerously to leeward and as we hit the bottom of the first wave you could feel that we were going to go out the wrong way.

'The scariest part was looking up at the boom which was pointing nearly vertical by now and knowing that within seconds the mainsail would gybe uncontrollably. The sail, the ropes attached to it and, more worryingly, the boom come across with such phenomenal power that anyone in the way would be lucky to survive.

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It has been an eventful 24
hours on Ericsson
© Richard MASON

'The problem is magnified massively by the fact that our canting keel is no longer helping to keep us upright, but actually contributing to heeling us over. Combined with tons of kit now on the wrong side, the boat lays over to about 70 degrees and the mess on deck is completely indescribable; everything is on the wrong side, the mainsail is pinned against the runner and every single rope is a tangled heap of spaghetti in the cockpit which is now full of tons of water.'

After two hours the crew had sorted out the mess and they resumed hurtling towards Cape Horn. HAYLES ended the report aptly, 'A day like today will be hard to forget and although I know we will laugh about it one day, right now it sits as a reminder of how close to edge we are. Suddenly, Life at the extreme doesn't seem like just a catchy slogan.'

ABN AMRO ONE Back In Front

Back on the race track Mike SANDERSON's (NZL) ABN AMRO ONE took the lead from the Paul CAYARD's (USA) Pirates of the Caribbean at 1830 hours UTC yesterday. The Dutch boat has managed to extend the lead to currently 28 nautical miles. With Bouwe BEKKING's (NED) movistar bringing up third, a mere ten nautical miles behind the Pirates.

When BEKKING was asked today what life was like out there, he cheerfully explained the mood was very positive onboard and thinks the race will restart after the Cape, so their two hour penalty is all but forgotten. When asked about wildlife the reply was pretty clear, 'We have no seen nothing. No whales, no albatross, no nothing, there's a lot of fog. It's really really boring in that sense. There's nothing to see. There is no sun, no stars, it's just grey grey grey!'

Weather Ahead

With the large low to the south of the fleet dominating the weather, the boats could be faced with winds of 30, 40, 50 even possibly 60 knots in the next few days as they reach towards Cape Horn. Jennifer LILY assistant race meteorologist explains, 'The focus will go towards crew safety and de-powering the boats, to keep things from breaking. With the front likely to pass the boats before they pass Cape Horn, snow or ice could accumulate on the decks with temperatures near freezing, In addition, the wet conditions combined with the high winds speeds will leave the teams struggling in temperatures that feel colder than -20˚C, given the wind chill. All these factors only add complications to an already very difficult environment.'

Position Report At 1600 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 54.02S 111 9.02W 3693 0 0 95 19.2 15.6 10/03/2006
Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 55 53.04S 111 27.04W 3721 28 -4 95 18.8 15.5 10/03/2006
movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 56 34.10S 112 10.03W 3731 38 -7 101 17.8 15.4 10/03/2006
Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 54 47.01S 113 17.02W 3803 110 -7 108 17.8 15.1 10/03/2006
Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 55 17.04S 114 57.01W 3845 152 -6 103 18.1 14.9 11/03/2006
ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastian JOSSE (FRA) 54 22.02S 116 4.00W 3901 208 -15 121 16.4 14.6 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, Movistar are looking good in third:© movistar
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