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2 March 2006, 04:26 pm
Movistar Suffer As ABN AMRO ONE Take First At Scoring Gate
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

It has been a dramatic day amongst the Volvo Ocean Race fleet. At 0315 hours UTC, movistar reported that they were taking on large amounts of water, but have been able to manage the situation and the boat and the crew are now safe. As their contingency plans are moving into action, ABN AMRO ONE and then Pirates passed the scoring gate at Cape Horn and will start sailing north towards Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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Movistar skipper Bouwe BEKKING (NED) said in a radio interview at 0900 UTC today he and the crew were fine but devastated as they were predicting to get through the scoring gate at Cape Horn in second place, potentially picking up three points. As it stands they will be the last yacht through only receiving one point before heading into Ushuaïa, Argentina.

BEKKING's Account

BEKKING explained exactly what happened, 'We were sailing in 30 to 35 knots of breeze just with a jib top, small stay sail and one reef in the main. And then all of a sudden there were shouts from below, 'We have a huge amount of water coming in' and everyone was up. The rate of incoming flow was so fast, in a couple of minutes the generator box was already underwater, all the water tight hatches were closed and the levels were just rising and rising. We had to get the sails down quickly because the water was coming in so fast through the wetbox which keeps the canting keel system separated from the boat.

'So once the sails were down the other problem was we didn't have any electricity. So Chris [NICHOLSON (AUS)] dove down under water to connect the water pumps to the batteries and once that was done then, actually very quickly, the levels went down and a couple of thousand litres was out of the boat. We still have a lot of water inside but we are okay.

'With the amount of water we had, we all thought that we were going down. It was not very pretty inside. Spike [Peter DORIEAN (AUS)] is sitting next to me and shaking his head. We had all the safety gear on deck. Basically ready to abandon ship because although you never should abandon ship unless you have to, you must be prepared for it.

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It has been a difficult day for
movistar skipper Bouwe
© Pepe RIBES

'As soon as the water started to come in, Capey [Andrew CAPE (AUS)] sent a radio message and I went on deck just for a short period to drop the sails and when I came back down and saw how much water we had, I asked Race HQ if other boats could assist us. Because it was such a rate I really thought it was going to end up very badly and because some boats are behind us and they could have sailed past us and picked us up. But once the levels were down I said to race headquarters they could continue racing and that we didn't need assistance. Which is a nice thing because otherwise we could have been sitting their in a liferaft.'

He continued, 'They [the crew] are disappointed as we thought we may go round the Horn in second place and we would have gained some very valuable points. We feel that in every leg we have had issues, yet we know we have been sailing well.

'We are making a stop in Ushuaïa and we will have to make a huge reinforcement on the water tight compartment there and probably most likely to carry on from there to Rio.'

View From The Crew

In a phone interview Olympic gold medallist and crew member Xabier FERNANDEZ (ESP) related his feelings at the critical moments, 'It was tough! We had been celebrating our last night before crossing Cape Horn, and we were drawing in on ABN after overtaking Pirates.

'We were sailing at 30 to 35 knots of wind with the jib raised, and we were going fast but steady, and all was going well for us. I was out trimming on deck, and Stu [BANNATYNE (NZL)] was at the wheel when all of a sudden Pepe [RIBES (ESP)] burst out of the hatch saying that we had to stop and let down the mainsail because we were taking on water. It was coming through the keel box doors, and in just five minutes we were knee-deep in water. It was tricky, but we managed to get the situation under control with the pumps, and now we're back on course, going at about ten knots.'

Pedro CAMPOS (ESP), the movistar Team Manager took stock of the situation saying, 'This has been a big blow for us, but the main thing is that both boat and crew are safe. When we were in second place, drawing in on those in first, and approaching the scoring gate, we were forced to start again in many ways. After speaking to those onboard, the message that we want to come out of this, and this goes for the entire crew, is that we will keep on fighting, and treat every day as if it were the first.'

A Haven For Broken Yachts

Ushuaia is the capital of Argentina's province of Tierra del Fuego and is widely considered to be southernmost city in the world, populated by 50,000. It is also famous for being a haven for yachts broken on the treacherous seas around the Horn. In the 2001-2002 Volvo Ocean Race Gunnar KRANTZ's (SWE) SEB was dismasted on leg four and limped into Ushuaia under jury rig. Before that, in the 1997-1998 Whitbread Race, two yachts limped into the safe haven. First Lawrie SMITH's (GBR) Silk Cut with a broken mast motored in, then followed by Christine GUILLOU's (FRA) EF Education the ladies yacht, who lost the top of her rig, already on their way into Ushuaïa to fix a problematic spreader.

Movistar has approximately 269 nautical miles to Ushuaïa, at the yacht's current speed their arrival could be as early as 0100 UTC Saturday morning. The shore team have been in constant contact with them and are making plans for the repair. More news on the situation will surely follow in the next hours.

ABN AMRO Claim Max Points

Back on the race track, the front of the fleet is celebrating despite the drama of the past hours. Mike SANDERSON's (NZL) ABN AMRO ONE was the first to round Cape Horn at 1238 UTC, which is also the only scoring gate of leg four, picking up three and a half points. The relief of the Kiwi sailor was immense, 'It's been a tough couple of days. Pretty stressful. Over 30 knots of breeze these boats are a handful. If you are doing speeds of over 35 knots in the pitch black with short little sharp waves with three boats within 30 miles of each other and two within half a mile, which they were at one stage, it's just no fun, because of the level you have to push to try and hang onto your position. I'm relieved to turn the corner and be a little closer to land.

'Coming into Cape Horn it's been amazing to have the six boats pushing so hard and before the sked that we heard about movistar having an issue, I was expecting to see something go wrong. Whether you were in a Volvo 60 or in the Rolex Transatlantic Race, in those conditions with six boats, odds on someone will have a problem. Now you never wish it was as bad as what movistar had. But you are expecting someone to wipe out or someone to lose a chunk of miles.'

Paul CAYARD's (USA) the Black Pearl was the second yacht to pass the famous Cape Horn, the most southerly of the great capes, which marks the northern boundary of the Drake's Passage. The passage is the strait between South America and Antarctica. The lost souls skippered by CAYARD passed through at 1440 UTC picking up three points giving them a total 24.5 points.

Brasil 1 Set To Take Third

The next yacht to pass through the scoring gate will be Torben GRAEL's (BRA) Brasil 1, which is only 53 nautical miles away. They will be followed by Sebastien JOSSE's (FRA) ABN AMRO TWO and Neal MCDONALD's (GBR) Ericsson Racing Team, who have 13.5 miles separating them and around 130 miles to go. The results of this battle will be known by 2200 UTC.

Position Report At 1600 Hours UTC, 2 March 2006
Team Nation Skipper Latitude Longitude DTF DTL DTLC CMG SMG VMG ETA
ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 55 29.02S 65 46.20W 2203 0 0 54 21.2 16.9 10/03/2006
Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 55 52.01S 66 36.03W 2240 37 -9 74 20 16.8 10/03/2006
Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 56 9.01S 68 39.03W 2309 106 -1 91 21 16.5 10/03/2006
ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastian JOSSE (FRA) 56 43.04S 70 39.03W 2383 180 -2 84 21.1 16.3 10/03/2006
Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 56 52.00S 70 59.02W 2396 193 -1 84 21.3 16.2 11/03/2006
movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 56 24.02S 71 13.01W 2396 193 -73 67 9.2 16.2 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, Crewman trying to keep upright as waves wash over the decks on ABN AMRO ONE:© TEAM ABN AMRO
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