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22 February 2006, 09:13 am
Brasil 1 Go First
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

As the most northerly of the six VO 70s contesting leg four of the Volvo Ocean Race, Brasil 1 took the lead yesterday afternoon and continue this morning to hold an eleven mile advantage. However it is the more southerly Pirates of the Caribbean and ABN AMRO ONE who appear to be enjoying the best conditions, and with just 27 miles covering the entire fleet it looks like being an exciting 24 hours.
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Staying with the pack is the strategy that Mike SANDERSON's (NZL) ABN AMRO ONE has elected to follow after their expensive gybe earlier yesterday to position themselves to the south of the fleet. At first this move appeared terrible, instantly knocking them back to last in the fleet, but throughout the day yesterday they gained miles on their rivals, and they now lie fourth, only 14 miles behind Brasil 1 and recording the fastest speed in the fleet. Down in the south, SANDERSON reports beautiful, fast sailing in clear blue skies with flat water.

Depressing 24 Hours On ABN AMRO TWO

But for their Dutch team mates on Sebastien JOSSE's (FRA) ABN AMRO TWO, south is now not an option. They are committed to the north and if they were to cut their losses now and gybe south, they would cross behind the rest of the fleet. Yesterday they watched their lead dwindle and, having realized they were too far north, had no choice but to accept that the rest of the fleet was going to come rumbling up from behind.

'This brings on a range of emotions from panic to anger as you wish you could turn back the clock and make that sail change a little bit earlier and go with the fleet. It is easy to start making irrational decisions and start gybing and chasing south to get to the fleet, but in the nav station, we made an agreement to stick by our guns and not go roaring around the ocean in a blind panic,' explains Simon FISHER (GBR), navigator of ABN AMRO TWO. FISHER added, 'Luckily, with every sched [position report] that has come in, we have been pleasantly surprised how little we have in fact lost. With any luck the bleeding will soon stop and we can go back on the offensive again.'

Surprising, Torben GRAEL's (BRA) Brasil 1 made the same choice but now have their moment in the sun as they take over the lead.

The Race In The North

At daybreak this morning, Brasil 1 was 14 miles ahead of ABN AMRO TWO, with the much more southerly Pirates coming in between the two eleven miles behind the leader. As the more southerly VO 70s gain miles, a close race is developing between the two boats in the north. 'It is very exciting as we are all having a pretty extreme approach to the ice gate. We have chosen to stay north of the fleet to give us more options and some other boats have chosen a more southerly route. The wind will drop close to the ice gate so I think things will be shaken around in the fleet quite a lot. ABN AMRO TWO is on our bow, 1.5 miles and we can see her and they have a spinnaker up. At the moment we are two boats quite alone up here, to the north of the fleet,' Knut FROSTAD (NOR) from Brasil 1 reported to race HQ yesterday afternoon.

In the south, the battle still rages in the rest of fleet. Along with ABN AMRO ONE, Paul CAYARD's (USA) Pirates of the Caribbean now looks the best placed of the fleet, and has moved up into second, and was travelling a 19.8 knots at the 0400 hours UTC position report this morning, compared to Brasil 1's 17.0 knots. The slightly more northerly Ericsson is down in fourth, 21 miles back from the leader at 0400, with movistar virtually following in the tracks of the Pirates, 27 miles back and, for now, bringing up the rear of the fleet.

A Walk On The Wild Side

As the fleet fly east across the southern ocean, sightings of wildlife have been reported by every team with talk of giant squid, albatross and whales. No ice has been seen as yet but as the temperature drops down, food an essential fixture of the sailor's day, is moving to the front of people's minds.

Bouwe BEKKING (NED) on movistar, bringing up the rear, was surprised to see his crew freely giving their food to each other. 'This is the first time that I've actually seen people sharing their chocolate, power bars or chewing gum. In all other Volvo races the guys were holding on like hawks to their treats, and there was always trading going on, and even buying goods off one another for hard earned dollars. Food does a lot for the moral and the moral of our troops is good, and we're ready to take the battle on.'

Close Encounters

The first of the wildlife reports came in from ABN AMRO ONE relating their giant squid tale. The six foot squid attached itself to ABN AMRO ONE's rudder, forcing the sailors to cant the boat over even further to lift the windward rudder out of the water and allow the squid to untangle itself.

On the second Dutch yacht, ABN AMRO TWO, there was also a close encounter. FISHER explained the slightly scary situation, 'The whales that have come to investigate have been somewhat more remarkable on this trip. We have seen whales on other legs but only from a distance, in this part of the world they seem to have no qualms about getting up close and personal.

'Yesterday one travelled along side us about a boat length away for some time only to dive across our bow at the last moment and bump itself on the keel. This scared the living daylights out of Bicey [Nick BICE (AUS)] who is somewhat more wary when these magnificent creatures swim by and left me wondering how an earth I managed to run aground in 200m of water! Luckily the whale was un-phased by his encounter with our bulb and swam off quite happily, unaware of how easily he could have ended our race! Thankfully he didn't but I guess we now know who is boss round here!'

Neal MCDONALD (GBR), skipper of Ericsson Racing Team, also spoke of the many whales they have seen and the dangers of these beautiful creatures, 'We have seen two very large whales, close up. In fact one in particular was much closer than I'd have liked. Hit one of these at speed and neither party will be happy, although it is always great to see these creatures, so big, so quiet and seemingly unconcerned by our presence.'

The Pirates on the black and red boat were very upbeat yesterday and were talking about their onboard wildlife. The RATS (rapid action technical seamen) made up of Jules SALTER (GBR), Justin FERRIS (NZL) and Justin CLOUGHER (AUS), swung into action yesterday morning to fix the keel gauge string potentiometer which had broken its flexible attachment to the keel head. In a very tongue in cheek report they insisted that the gauge was essential in boat manoeuvring and special work should be carried out immediately. They finally fixed the problem and as CLOUGHER joked, 'Back online now, and the keel box is once again intact and we once again, happily have completely erroneous numbers displayed on deck. It's a real pleasure to be able to share these great experiences with y'all!'

Position Report At 0400 Hours UTC, 22 February 2006

Team Nation Skipper Latitude Longitude DTF DTL DTLC CMG SMG VMG ETA
Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 51 51.00S 159 47.02W 5782 0 0 90 17 15.2 10/03/2006
Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 53 59.01S 158 32.01W 5793 11 -1 99 19.8 15.1 10/03/2006
ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastian JOSSE (FRA) 52 27.03S 159 52.03W 5796 14 -3 99 17.7 15 10/03/2006
ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 54 17.02S 158 20.02W 5796 14 -4 103 20.5 15 10/03/2006
Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 53 33.02S 159 17.03W 5803 21 -13 103 17.4 14.9 10/03/2006
movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 53 57.03S 159 7.04W 5809 27 -5 104 19.8 14.8 10/03/2006

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, Brasil 1 have moved into the lead:© Oskar KIHLBORG
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