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1 March 2002, 02:26 pm
Surf's Up
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Volvo Ocean Race
Rio de Janeiro

While the shore teams beaver away in the never-ending heat, preparing the race boats for the next leg of the Volvo Ocean Race to Miami, the race crews have been resting and relaxing.

Some have returned home, but those remaining in the city of Rio de Janeiro have been out and about and making the most of this lively city.

Ask any group of people to name their dream destination and Rio de Janeiro will figure in most of them. It has everything, exotic carnivals, beautiful women on the beautiful Copacabana beach, throbbing Latin music, sunshine, wooded mountains leading down to tight coves and long stretches of beach bordering an azure blue sky, and it is of course, the perfect place to relax after racing through the Southern Ocean in the cold and the ice.

Probably the most famous landmark of all in Rio is the figure of Christ the Redeemer, and nothing can prepare you for the sight of the welcoming arms of the statue, set high above the city. A modern, Swiss-made, cogwheel railway takes half an hour to climb the mountain almost to the top, and once you get there, the statue in soapstone mosaic in the finest art nouveau style, is reached via a flight of steps. This was the first destination for most of the Rio-bound crews on their first day off.

Next on the agenda, and at the uncivilized hour of 7am, while the city was just waking, an expectant group of crewmembers gathered outside the media center in the Marina da Gloria. Team members from News Corp, Assa Abloy, Amer Sports Too and Tyco were going surfing, and they were going to learn how to do it properly!

It is impossible to ignore the 96 kilometres of beaches when staying in Rio de Janeiro, as they are an integral part of the city's life. Copacabana, the most famous of them all, is the perfect place for people watching, and for the residents of Rio, it is their playground, their gym, their meeting place and their eating and drinking place.
Our team however, was headed for Macumba Beach, where they met with Rico de Souza. Rico is a famous 'old school' Brazilian surfer who nowadays runs a surf school. Some of the crews had surfed before but for Liz Wardley from Amer Sports Too, it was her first attempt.

Rico had a brief chat with everyone; made it all sound easy, and then handed out long boards, short boards and one minimalibu board and everyone plunged into the sea. The local media out numbered the surfing team, anxious to find out how these top professional sailors like to relax when they are not onboard a race boat and pushing the limits.
The surf was not big and perfect for the newcomers to get to grips with the sport that is so big in Brazil. Local surfers were out in force, some of them arriving at the beach at 5am and our team spent some time chatting to them and learning techniques.

Food is always a subject for discussion while the Volvo Ocean Race boats are at sea. Either the lack of it, or the endlessly similar taste. Even Paul Cayard couldn't make the pasta onboard Amer Sports One taste much better although he added a drop or two of olive oil. Rio de Janeiro, in direct contrast, must seem like true paradise to the crews who have survived on this tasteless, freeze dried food for days on end while they raced from Auckland to Brazil. In Rio, nothing can compare with the famous barbecue, or churrasco, traditionally from the south of Brazil, and a true dining adventure.

A seemingly endless variety of every cut of meat imaginable, cooked and served on spits and accompanied by a spectacular buffet of exotic salads and fruits continues to arrive at your table until you finally give in, and turn the card at your setting from green to red, indicating that you cannot eat another thing - for the moment anyway. Precede this with a famous caipirinha, an intoxicating mix of local sugar cane liquor - the local 'firewater', chopped limes, sugar and ice and you will be ready to dance the night away.

The crews will be enjoying their last caipirinhas on Thursday next week, at the prize giving for leg four, the last party before the restart of the race on Saturday March 9th, to Miami. Any reason is reason enough for a party in Rio, and anything and everything is an excuse to dance.
Volvo Ocean Race Press/News Editor
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