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22 May 2006, 11:03 am
Brunel Finishes Leg 7
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006
Portsmouth, Great Britain

Brunel has crossed the finish line at Gilkicker Point to take fifth place and three points in Leg 7. After a wild ride up the Solent this morning in winds of over 35 knots, poor visibility and rain
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After a tough leg that saw them destroy their headsail tack fitting, rip their mainsail, rip one wheel from the pedestal among many other serious problems, Brunel with Skipper Matt HUMPHRIES in charge crossed the finish like at Gilkicker point close to Portsmouth at 1016GMT and 32 seconds.

Humphries took over as skipper in New York when owner/skipper Grant WHARINGTON stepped off the boat with medical problems after the leg from Baltimore/Annapolis to New York. Matt had been a watch leader aboard, but with exceptional experience in this race was the ideal person to take over and to drive the boat hard and fast.

And hard and fast he drove it in the early stages of the race, staying with ABN AMRO ONE in strong wind conditions and mixing it with the rest of the fleet.

When the big winds hit the fleet, Brunel suffered gear breakages that slowed her progress and she slipped back down the rankings, but was still sailing as hand and as fast as they could.

In the past few days they have been sailing in winds of over 40 knots, fighting to stay ahead of a weather system that threatened even more wind. They went through the Lizard scoring gate just before midnight GMT yesterday and sailed the Channel in a straight line to the Needles, the Solent and the finish.

A series of extensive modifications to the Don Jones-designed boat were made after their arrival in Melbourne and, combined with crew changes to strengthen the team have certainly made a major difference. The team were hoping for record breaking conditions on Leg 7 across the Atlantic but it wasn't to be. They now have two legs left to make a mark. Given their performance on this leg, they still could do it.

ABN AMRO TWO have reported to Race Headquarters that they resumed racing at 0954.

Update 0919GMT Brunel has scorched up the English Channel in an arrow-straight line thanks to a wind from just west of south giving them the ideal course. At 0900GMT they were 4.5 Nautical miles from the Needles, some 20 miles from the finish and were sailing at 15 knots in 38 knots of wind.

Down in the far west of England ABN AMRO TWO has suspended racing at 0735GMT in the shelter of Falmouth Bay, just off the Helford River and movistar's crew has been taken off in RIBs and are safely ashore in Falmouth.

Despite the rough conditions, Will Oxley managed to send an email early this morning. As you will see from the final sentence he has some keyboard problems, but we edited most of the email to make it easier to read, 'We are very glad to hear that the crew of movistar are safely on board ABN AMRO TWO.

'Meanwhile we continue to do battle with the storm resulting from the low we sailed south to intersect some days ago now.

'We have watched the barometer fall from 1010 to 980 over about 40 hours as the low has intensified and closed on our path. We are on the favoured southern side and so have had some very fast sailing! We have a few problems on board which have meant that we cannot sail at full speed, but we have still managed to sail at an average of about 18-19 knots because it has been very important to stay in front of the worst of the storm.

It has been real survival conditions on board with nearly everyone in yellow survival suits. The boat is awash with water both above and below decks and driving is very difficult. We lost the windward wheel yesterday and so are steering to leeward. Woos and GT fashioned a temp repair but we are not sure it will hold out so it is only to be used if the port wheel goes.

Mitch had a courageous trip up the rig to put a chicken line on the main and the foredeck was awash with bodies as we had to drop the #3 jib in the early hours of the morning.

One watch constantly cleans up down below and supplies those on deck with sustenance while others catch a little sleep still dressed in their survival suits.

At this stage it looks like a fast run all the way in so long as we continue to stay ahead of the storm!

Life at the extreme!

Bytheway,asyou mighthavegathered thespacekey is notworking too well onthe keyboard!

Update 2325GMT Brunel has closed on the Lizard to within 32 miles and is sailing at 11 knots for the moment - they have been over 20 - in 29 knots of wind from 237 degrees. Following the scoring gate at the Lizard they then have 162 miles to the finish and should be there by 1300GMT tomorrow.

ABN AMRO TWO are 118 miles from the Lizard sailing at 23 knots. They met HMS Mersey at 1930GMT and then have been sailing in convoy with the Fishery Protection vessel since. For the moment, however, ABN AMRO TWO seems to be outrunning their escort which has a top speed of just 20 knots according to the Royal Navy web site; TWO is hitting mid 20s and perhaps running away despite their extra cargo.

Positions - Leg Seven

Pos Yacht Leg Points Scoring Gate Points Total Leg Points Finish Time Elapsed Time Pts Overall Position Overall
1 ABN AMRO ONE 7 3.5 10.5 20/05/2006 23:30:42 9d 06h 30m 42s 81 1
2 Ericsson Racing Team 6 3 9 21/05/2006 12:26:39 9d 19h 26m 39s 43.5 6
3 Pirates of the Caribbean 5 2.5 7.5 21/05/2006 12:54:20 9d 19h 54m 20s 55 2
4 Brasil 1 4 2 6 21/05/2006 14:30:57 9d 21h 30m 57s 48 3
5 Brunel 3 1.5 4.5 21/05/2006 10:16:32 10d 19h 45m 35s 7 7

Overall Leaderboard
(Up to and including Leg Six)

Pos Team Nation Skipper Pts
1 ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 70.5
2 Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 47.5
3 movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 47
4= ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastien JOSSE (FRA) 42
4= Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 42
6 Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 34.5
7 Brunel AUS Matthew HUMPHRIES (GBR) 2.5

For a complete list of all the news about the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006 CLICK HERE.

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Brunel charges up the Channel © Brunel
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