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24 February 2006, 04:46 pm
Brasil 1 First Past Ice Gate
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

The teams in leg four of the Volvo Ocean Race have been playing a game of ocean poker for the past few frustrating days and finally the waiting is over. The yachts have all found wind in the past day and are getting up to normal Southern Ocean speeds, with Brasil 1's more northerly route paying off as they swept first past the ice gate at 1510 hours UTC today.
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The spirits of most of the crews has improved greatly today as they see an end of the slog to the ice gate. The question on everyone's lips was whether the Brazilians would beat the rest of the teams to the gate and new breeze? Or would their more northerly route prove a dud?

The answer was to vindicate skipper Torben GRAEL (BRA) and navigator Marcel VAN TRIESTE (NED). Brasil 1 are the most northerly of all the yachts and, although they are technically the second furthest yacht from Rio de Janeiro, their northerly option seems to have paid off. After passing the ice gate they have reached the new northerly breeze first and are the fastest yacht sailing at 18 knots. Crew member Kiko PELLICANO (BRA) gave an insight into the feelings onboard after the light wind days, 'Everyone knows that this is not what we usually get around here so we're preparing for strong winds ahead. In 20 hours we will get downwind sailing with up to 55 knots of wind. Everything will change.'

Thinking Back

Yesterday Steve HAYLES (GBR), the navigator on Ericsson Racing Team almost forgot his own 33rd birthday. He wrote a heartfelt report about remembering his 21st Birthday in exactly the same position, sitting at the nav station of a Volvo Ocean 60 rounding Cape Horn. 'There are lots of good things to be doing on your 21st birthday rather than being bounced around in the ocean, thousands of miles away from the nearest land but the truth is that it would not have mattered how cold it got or how broken our boat was. You could not have stopped me from being here on that birthday or any other. It's hard to describe the addiction you have for something that, for a large percentage of the time, you don't really get much enjoyment from.

'This is an amazing event, at the pinnacle of a fantastic sport and if I could be granted one wish today it would be to secure the future of this race for many years to come so that thousands of youngsters can aspire to be out here and a very lucky few will experience it first hand.'

As Bouwe BEKKING's (NED) movistar move up north towards the ice gate in tight formation with Mike SANDERSON's (NZL) ABN AMRO ONE and Paul CAYARD (USA) on the Black Pearl, BEKKING describes his crew as happy campers, with the best of everything, sleeping bags, wet weather gear and boots. They have been here in the Southern Ocean before, last year when they delivered their yacht to Spain from Australia and as so they have learnt from the great experience.

Their good mood has not even been affected by the minor damage they have endured through slamming into big waves in thick fog today. The lashing which holds the mainsheet turning block snapped as well as the big snap shackle (rated for eight tons) which holds the tack of the jib in place. Resulting in the sail blowing out of the headstay foil and damaging the luff rope. After a couple of hectic minutes the crew had everything under control again and were back up to speed.

Pirates Slip Up

Erle WILLIAMS (NZL) onboard the Pirate ship also had a bit of a surprise today when he started slipping around the leeward bilge in hydraulic fluid. The leak was found to be from the spare oil tank and thankfully it was quickly mopped up by WILLIAMS and skipper CAYARD, only to find the radar bracket was coming away from the mast which required Justin CLOUGHER (AUS) to go up and retrieve it. Pirates skipper, Capt'n CAYARD runs a tight ship, 'It is amazing how much goes on onboard, apart from the racing. There is constant maintenance programme and there is the race. That is why you have to be very disciplined and stay ahead of the game with both the sailing, like sail changes, etc, as well as the maintenance. If you get behind, things snowball and you have a real mess.'

Back on the race course Pirates will probably be the second boat to get through the ice gate by just clipping the very eastern end, only 14 nautical miles away, with the rest of the southern pack following very quickly. The young guns onboard Sebastien JOSSE's (FRA) ABN AMRO TWO unfortunately have found themselves in the area between the two tactical routes. They did not go far enough north to get the new breeze so are still stuck in light upwind conditions at the back of the fleet.

The next land mark will be the second ice gate which stands in between the yachts and their move south to pick up the strong westerlies that will take them round Cape Horn. Before this point though, the large polar low to the north of them will re-intensify, becoming the dominant weather influence for the whole fleet. As a result, strong (over 40 knots) west northwesterly winds will develop north of the ice gates, making for some fast sailing.

Position Report At 1600 Hours UTC, 24 February 2006
Team Nation Skipper Latitude Longitude DTF DTL DTLC CMG SMG VMG ETA
Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 48 15.01S 143 26.01W 5101 0 0 45 12 13.5 11/03/2006
ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 48 17.03S 143 38.02W 5109 8 -6 44 13 13.4 11/03/2006
movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 48 21.03S 143 48.02W 5115 14 -10 46 13.6 13.4 11/03/2006
Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 48 37.01S 144 40.01W 5149 48 -23 45 13.4 13.1 11/03/2006
Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 47 1.04S 147 33.00W 5276 175 -52 87 17.8 12.2 11/03/2006
ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastian JOSSE (FRA) 48 34.02S 148 30.03W 5300 199 -62 75 14.3 12 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, Brasil 1 are flying:© Oskar KIHLBORG
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