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2 March 2006, 10:06 am
STOP PRESS: Movistar Takes On Water
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

At 0315 hours UTC today, skipper Bouwe BEKKING (NED) reported that movistar was taking on water at a high rate and requested that the boats nearest to movistar, Brasil 1 and Ericsson Racing Team should standby to offer immediate assistance. They were sailing in 30-35 knots of breeze with a jib top, small staysail and one reef in the mainsail, 242 nautical miles from the scoring gate at Cape Horn.
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BEKKING's claim a couple of days ago that situations change quickly in the Southern Ocean has been made to look prophetic as movistar went from second place, and charging along at more than 30 knots, to the risk of sinking early this morning.

The crew of the Spanish boat have the situation under control and now the boat plans to round the scoring gate at Cape Horn before docking for repairs in Southern Argentina.

Keel Bomb Doors Pinpointed

It is thought the leak started shortly after 0300 when the boat sustained damage to the keel bomb doors which normally prevent water entering the keel box. The pressure, generated by the speed they were travelling, forced cracks in the box allowing water to pour into the yacht, at one point reaching knee height in the entire mid-section of the boat. The lid of the keel box never completely separated.

BEKKING immediately ordered all grab bags and emergency lockers to be moved up on deck for a possible evacuation, and at 0332 emailed the race office to request the boats behind them in the fleet - Ericsson, ABN AMRO TWO and Brasil 1 - be placed on standby for a possible rescue operation.

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Movistar skipper Bouwe
BEKKING has plenty to think
about
© movistar
The skipper sent a flurry of further emails requiring assistance, but shortly after 0400 he revealed that while the water was still coming in, the watertight bulkheads had not been breached, and by 0433, in another email, he explained the water level was reducing and the other boats were stood down from any rescue attempt.

At 0700 BEKKING confirmed the boat had abandoned plans to head directly for the port of Ushuaia, the world's most southern city at the tip of Argentina, which would have involved sailing into a headwind, and will now round the scoring gate at Cape Horn before returning to that port for the repairs.

This is a similar problem to those encountered by the Pirates on the second leg. Then Paul CAYARD (USA) made the decision to dock for repairs in Albany, near Australia, incurring a two hour penalty before racing on to claim fourth place.

BEKKING's Report

In the last few moments BEKKING sent this email from the boat.

'We are sinking. Everybody up,' commanded BEKKING as the water poured into the boat around the keel box. 'Slow the boat down, the water is coming in very fast, and close the water tight hatches,' was the command.

The water was coming in from around the top of the keel box. Within minutes the sailors were knee deep in water. The water tight hatches were closed immediately and safety gear and grab bags moved onto deck. The sail area was reduced to only the stay sail and the yacht slowed down, as the crew frantically pumped.

'A Sailor's Nightmare'

BEKKING's report leaves nothing to the imagination, 'A sailor's nightmare is sinking, and this looked like a pretty serious situation. If we had rats onboard they would have jumped off by now.

'We mobilized some people on deck to drop all the sails, and when I went downstairs again, I got a real shock. The generator box was already completely underwater, and the water had spread now through the entire mid compartment, and was close to washing over the main engine box as well. And what a mess inside, sails, sleeping bags, food bags, you can't name it, were floating around. In the mean time Spike [Peter DORIEAN (AUS)] had collected all the safety gear and put it on deck, just to be sure.

'Capey [Andrew CAPE (AUS)] had already informed race headquarters. After seeing the amount of water, I decided to ask headquarters if other boats could assist. Water and electricity don't like each other too much, so the circuit breakers were popping off all the time.

'With the personal torches on it looked like a scene that Hitchcock could only dream of. Now Chris [NICHOLSON (AUS)] was diving underwater to connect the two emergency high capacity bilge pumps directly to the batteries, as that was the only way of assuring power and running of the pumps. What else do you do? Bail of course, like mad, but I felt it was like watching television where somebody is using one small water hose to protect his house against a raging bushfire. Even though we knew we were on the losing hand, strangely enough you don't give up.

'Then the shout, PUMPS ARE RUNNING. Now we maybe have a chance to beat the incoming flow rate, and get the level down.

'To all our big relief, this was the case. Slowly but surely, the levels went down and we got the situation under control. We have made an emergency fix on the leaking box, and the incoming flow is minimal. I'm proud of the boys, they did well, not just in this emergency situation, but also in the way that they have sailed movistar so magnificently up to that moment. We are now heading for Ushuaia [Argentina] to look at damage.'

Heading To Ushuaia

BEKKING said in a radio interview this morning that the team is planning to make a stop in Ushuaia where they will have to make a huge reinforcement to the keel box and then carry on from there to Rio de Janeiro, however since then it has been decided to carry on to the scoring gate at Cape Horn first.

Elsewhere in the fleet, Mike SANDERSON's (NZL) ABN AMRO ONE leads the chase towards Cape Horn, 62 nautical miles ahead. CAYARD's Pirates of the Caribbean is in second place, 28 miles behind SANDERSON, followed by Torben GRAEL's (BRA) Brasil 1, Sebastien JOSSE's (FRA) ABN AMRO TWO and, bringing up the rear, Neal MCDONALD's (GBR) Ericsson Racing Team.

Icon Of The Race

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Inhospitable conditions on
ABN AMRO ONE
© TEAM ABN AMRO

Last night, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet was preparing to enter some of the most hazardous waters in the world, a place where the Southern Ocean is at its shallowest and the winds funnel at 40 knots. This is the exit of the Southern Ocean and the experience can be dramatic or benign, but whatever weather the wind gods decide to throw at the fleet this time, leaving the desolate wastes of Southern Ocean via Cape Horn to port, means many things to many people.

'Turning the corner at Cape Horn is a big psychological change,' reflected Pirates skipper CAYARD. 'In some ways you look forward to it because a lot of the difficult conditions are behind you, I know for me, it's also quite a sentimental moment, because the round the world race is really about sailing in the Southern Ocean and when you turn that corner, you turn your back on some of the best sailing that this available on the planet and it is the best sailing that I have ever done. And you never know if you will ever come back again. This could quite possibly be my last time. That is a huge icon of the race.'

THE Landmark

According to MCDONALD, skipper of Ericsson Racing Team, 'Of all the landmarks, you would have to say that Cape Horn is THE one. It marks leaving the southern ocean and that is something people remember.'

'It's the Everest of sailing for a crew, like a graduation, another notch of experience to add to your belt and things that you have lived.' Added Ericsson's Guillermo ALTADILL (ESP), who will be rounding Cape Horn for his sixth time.

As the teams approach the massive Cape, ahead of leader ABN AMRO ONE, a huge storm is brewing behind them. The front runners should reach the Cape ahead of it, but the back markers are anxious, 'We think we will get around the Cape before it hits us, but if it does, then we really have to be on our guard, just for our own safety apart from the race. We're taking the middle road right now and firming up our final approach plan at some time later today,' said MCDONALD yesterday.

Position Report At 1000 Hours UTC, 2 March 2006
Team Nation Skipper Latitude Longitude DTF DTL DTLC CMG SMG VMG ETA
ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 56 43.01S 68 50.01W 2330 0 0 74 21.7 16.8 10/03/2006
Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 56 25.20S 70 3.02W 2358 28 5 69 22.1 16.7 10/03/2006
Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 56 7.03S 72 25.01W 2435 105 -13 77 19.6 16.4 10/03/2006
movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 56 46.03S 72 45.01W 2450 120 -81 68 7.9 16.4 10/03/2006
ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastian JOSSE (FRA) 56 56.08S 74 29.03W 2508 178 -12 75 19.5 16.2 11/03/2006
Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 57 4.03S 74 53.02W 2522 192 -10 78 19.6 16.1 11/03/2006
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 Three)

Pos Team Nation Skipper Pts
1 ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 38.5
2 ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastien JOSSE (FRA) 28
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, Disaster has struck for movistar:© Pepe RIBES
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