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11 March 2006, 08:38 am
ABN AMRO ONE Win Leg Four
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Mike SANDERSON's (NZL) ABN AMRO ONE drifted across the finish line in Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil today at 00:18:23 local time (03:18:23 UTC) after 20 days, 1 hour, 48 minutes and 3 seconds at sea to claim first place in the Volvo Ocean Race leg four.
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The team of professionals sailing ABN AMRO ONE, remained focussed and foot perfect throughout the whole of this, the longest leg of the Volvo Ocean Race at 6,700 nautical miles. They collected 3.5 points for passing the Cape Horn scoring gate first, and seven points for the leg win, bringing their total now to 49 points, putting them solidly at the top of the overall scoreboard.

An ecstatic but tired skipper, SANDERSON reached the dock and said, 'It was a really tough leg, but it was amazing, the guys did a fantastic job. It was unbelievable and I'd thank the whole team.

'It was a very stressful leg and the leg that I was most worried about. It was really hard work mentally, but it was exhilarating, it was fast and we reached some great speeds. It was like taking a 49er across the Atlantic, it was really full on and it was just a question of hard you could get away with pushing boat.'

'Essence Of The Race'

Navigator Stan HONEY (USA), the man that SANDERSON says it is an honour to work with, said, 'This leg is the essence of the race. It takes you half way round the world and past Cape Horn and it is one of the reasons why I am taking part. The other reasons are to sail round the world and to sail with these guys.'

The last stages of this leg have predominantly featured light airs, something for which this Juan KOUYOUMDJIAN-designed yacht is not optimised and it has given SANDERSON his fair share of worries as he watched his lead decrease and increase with the fickle and unstable breeze.

Tactical Move Pays Off

Although this team has consistently been at the top of pack for most of this leg, they made a bold tactical decision to take a short term loss to make a long term gain and, late on day two, they gybed to the south of the fleet, losing 43 nautical miles and moving from first place to fifth. This was the day when they also encountered a six foot giant squid which attached itself to their windward rudder but was eventually untangled.

Life was very stressful onboard for the next two days as the tactic of going south rather than opting for a more northerly route with their sister ship ABN AMRO TWO played out. But within 24 hours of making the decision, they moved up into fourth place and reported high speeds and flat water.

By 1000 UTC on day four, ABN AMRO ONE was back in her familiar first position but quickly slipped to third as the fleet split when they headed north to round the two ice gates which kept the fleet the fleet north of iceberg territory.

Day five, 23 February, ended with the black boat in second place just behind movistar but by day six they had grappled their way back into the lead and really did not look back from then.

In Quick Succession

After 6,700 nautical miles of racing, the battle for the second and third podium positions raged until the very last moment. In the last hours of the leg, Paul CAYARD (USA) and Pirates of the Caribbean team regained second position to cross the line at 07:06:50 UTC (04:06:50 local time) followed just 30 minutes later by the young guns on ABN AMRO TWO led by Frenchman Sebastien JOSSE.

Local heroes, Brasil 1 skippered by multiple Olympic medallist, Torben GRAEL (BRA), missed a podium position in Rio de Janeiro, their home port, by the slimmest of margins, finishing 25 minutes behind the Dutch boat.

Overnight Drama

At 2200 UTC last night, the drama was played out as Pirates of the Caribbean stalled in a light patch of wind and Brasil 1 swept pass to take second place with a one mile advantage. ABN AMRO TWO was just nine miles behind. But by 0318 UTC, and the finish of leg winner, ABN AMRO ONE, the Pirates had regained control, pushing the Brazilians back to third place. In the next four hours, the young team of ABN AMRO TWO took it one step further and deposed Brasil 1 of a place on the podium.

As CAYARD and his crew crossed the finish line, ABN AMRO TWO was just four miles behind her and Brasil 1, a further two. At 0736 UTC, the white Dutch yacht claimed third, and Brasil 1 missed out on her place in the sun by three nautical miles, finally finishing in fourth place at 0755 UTC.

CAYARD Happy

CAYARD reflected, 'Second is a good finish. It was a long six hours and we had everything thrown upon us. It really tested our selves, our boat and our whole campaign. I am really pleased with the consistency of results. We always said it would take us to Rio before we were up to pace.'

ABN AMRO TWO's Lucas BRUN (BRA) commented, 'The experience of being the first Brazilian to hit home shores is absolutely amazing and I really did not expect this. It has been a very hard trip and just have got here would be good. Not to have sailed in the other legs and then to finally sail this one and sail home was a dream come true.'

Knut FROSTAD (NOR) from Brasil 1 said, 'We pushed the boat very hard and always knew we were the team who had a lot to learn. There was a lot of mixed emotion as we crossed the finish line especially for the Brazilians whose goal was better than fourth.'

Position Report At 0800 Hours UTC, 11 March 2006
Team Nation Skipper Latitude Longitude DTF DTL DTLC CMG SMG VMG ETA
ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN
Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN
ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastian JOSSE (FRA) FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN
Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN FIN
Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 24 0.03S 43 52.07W 77 0 79 38 11.2 14.1 11/03/2006 - 1336 UTC
movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 38 43.01S 48 18.04W 985 908 79 45 12 12.2 15/03/2006 - 1025 UTC
Brunel AUS Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS DNS

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 Four Scoring Gate - not yet ratified)

Pos Team Nation Skipper Pts
1 ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 42
2 ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastien JOSSE (FRA) 30
3 movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 26
5 Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 24.5
4 Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 22.5
6 Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 18
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, Mike SANDERSON celebrates another leg victory:© David BRANIGAN
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