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8 May 2006, 08:24 am
Record Spectator Fleet Witnesses Annapolis Restart
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

A record number of spectator craft, estimated at 3,500 by the U.S. Coastguard, lined Chesapeake Bay today to farewell the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006 fleet for the start of the sixth leg of the race up the east coast of the USA from Annapolis to New York.
No ALT tag specifiedThousands more fans took up vantage points on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge where traffic also came to a standstill. The figure surpassed the 2,000 spectator boats assembled for the start of the race in Vigo, Spain in November last year.

Brasil 1, skippered by Torben GRAEL (BRA) led the pack away from the start line with movistar, the winner of the Baltimore In Port race under the leadership of Bouwe BEKKING (NED), in hot pursuit.

As the boats headed upwind to a rounding mark just before the Bay Bridge they forced their way into the massive spectator fleet as they headed for the favoured right hand side of the course.

Brasil 1 and Sebastien JOSSE's (FRA) ABN AMRO TWO were the first to calve their way through the fleet and for Brasil 1 the risky move was profitable as they sneaked out ahead of movistar and local heroes Pirates of the Caribbean.

Brasil 1 Lead The Way

GRAEL and his team were the first to round and set their spinnaker, hotly pursued by movistar, who turned just over a minute later, with Paul CAYARD's (USA) Pirates of the Caribbean 45 seconds behind.

As the fleet headed downwind back towards the start, Pirates of the Caribbean made some good gains and overtook movistar to move up to second place just behind Brasil 1.

Behind the lead three boats a separate battle raged as Ericsson with skipper Neal MCDONALD (GBR) back in charge and new navigator Mark RUDIGER (USA) onboard, battled it out with ABN AMRO ONE and ABN AMRO TWO.

Through the start gate, the final mark before the fleet head out to the entrance of the Chesapeake, Brasil 1 still held the lead followed by Pirates of the Caribbean and movistar. ABN AMRO TWO passed through in fourth place just in front of their sister ship and overall race leaders ABN AMRO ONE, who was struggling at the breeze dropped below eight knots.

After a promising start Brunel crossed through the starting gate in seventh place just under a minute after ABN AMRO ONE.

Tough Race To Come

Judging by the tough battle at the start, the fleet will be racing hard all the way throughout the 400 nautical mile journey to New York.

The fleet is expected to arrive into the Big Apple late into the evening of Monday 8 May or in the early hours the next day. The boats will spend two complete days in North Cove Marina before departing on the Transatlantic crossing to Portsmouth, Great Britain on 11 May.

Focus Is Critical

RUDIGER, the new navigator onboard Ericsson, said that there is not much of a passing lane once the fleet gets to New York and he thinks that it is possible that fleet may cross the finish line in the same order as it exited the Chesapeake Bay. The next few hours are critical as the teams focus on pushing their boats as hard as possible.

The arrival in New York, poses all sorts of challenges including lots of narrow channels that the fleet must keep within, along with fishing boats, barges, tug boats, police guards, not to mention the shoals which must be avoided and the skyscrapers which will disrupt the wind.

But last night, in an increasingly familiar pattern, the movistar crew broke the important piece of gear which drives their two main winches, necessitating the transfer of the spinnaker sheet to the mainsheet winch in every manoeuvre. 'The forecast is still for 25 knots later during the night; hopefully we can lay through and not have to tack in big seas,' skipper BEKKING said last night.

Wind Picks Up

Over the last three hours, the wind speed has picked up to 30 knots and settled in an east north easterly direction as the fleet exit Chesapeake Bay, giving ABN AMRO ONE and ABN AMRO TWO the conditions they love best. This has resulted in an increase of speed and 30-35 nm runs in the preceding three hours. Pirates of the Caribbean and ABN AMRO ONE are currently the most easterly boats, with the boys onboard ABN AMRO TWO tacking within the last hour to join them on the eastern flank.

Movistar has moved up the leaderboard from fourth to first having posted the best three hour run of the fleet at 35 nm. Hot on her heels however is ABN AMRO ONE who at last have the conditions they excel in. Black Betty is just 2 nm behind the Spanish boat, having stormed through the fleet from fifth position at the 0400 UTC sched. Ericsson have dropped from second to fourth having posted the second lowest three hour run of 31 nm, allowing Brasil 1 to maintain her position in third.

The surprise is Pirates of the Caribbean. Having been in first place before exiting the Chesapeake Bay, the Black Pearl has dropped to fifth place, with the lowest three hour run of the fleet at 28 nm. Skipper CAYARD must be hoping that his easterly course with ABN AMRO ONE will pay off, and not result in a further slip down the leaderboard.

ABN AMRO TWO have maintained their position over Brunel, but having tacked east to join her sister boat runs the risk of losing ground to the Australian entry. Brunel - although not having made any progress up the leaderboard for the time being, had the fastest boat speed of 12.3 knots at the time of the position sched. Could the increase of wind speed provide more surprises in the fleet?

Position Report At 0700 Hours UTC, 8 May 2006

Team Nation Skipper Latitude Longitude DTF DTL DTLC CMG SMG VMG ETA
movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 37 9.02N 75 47.03W 240 0 2 116 6.1 10.1 09/05/2006
ABN AMRO ONE NED Mike SANDERSON (NZL) 37 4.03N 75 40.01W 242 2 1 125 8.6 10 09/05/2006
Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 37 5.01N 75 46.05W 243 3 -1 126 6.7 9.9 09/05/2006
Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 37 4.01N 75 44.02W 243 3 -2 120 7.4 9.9 09/05/2006
Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 37 1.03N 75 42.03W 246 6 -6 123 8.5 9.7 09/05/2006
ABN AMRO TWO NED Sebastien JOSSE (FRA) 37 1.01N 75 45.02W 246 6 0 139 8.9 9.7 09/05/2006
Brunel AUS Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) 36 54.01N 75 45.06W 252 12 -1 148 12.3 9.3 09/05/2006

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 Baltimore In Port Race)

Pos Team Nation Skipper Pts
2 movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 44
3 Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 41.5
5 Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 37
6 Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 30.5
7 Brunel AUS Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) 0.5

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

Sacha OSWALD (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Chesapeake Bay was packed with spectator boats watching the seven Volvo Open 70s at the start of leg six:© Oskar KIHLBORG
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