At Sea. Volvo Ocean Race: Can ABN AMRO 1 beat movistar to the scoring gate - see the 1600 positions
Positions 1000 Leg 5 Day 6
Photo: Positions 1000 Leg 5 Day 6 - click picture to enlarge
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Friday, 07 April 2006
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The tension is building as well as the breeze this afternoon as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet nears the important scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha. With only 64 nautical miles left, time is running out for the ABN AMRO ONE (Mike Sanderson) to steal Bouwe Bekking’s first place on movistar.

ABN AMRO ONE has the highest 24 hour run currently, sailing consistently faster than the leader in the reaching conditions. They have made up 12 nautical miles in the past twelve hours with only nine nautical miles separating them from the Spanish yacht. At 1600 GMT movistar’s speed over the ground was 12 knots compared to 16 knots on ABN AMRO ONE, but as all the teams know well, it only takes one bad cloud and your rival can sail straight past you. The result of this sprint to Fernando should be known by the 2200 GMT and it’s anyone’s guess.

In this drag race to the gate it’s all about pure speed, making all the teams analyse their sail combinations in the various wind speeds to get the best performance out of their yachts. While he looks keenly over his shoulder, Bouwe Bekking on movistar explained today his team’s plans for keeping up the pace with the help of some brand new sails, “Sails are our engine; we nearly have a complete new wardrobe for this leg so in good shape for the rest of the race.”

“We are happy with the sail choices we made for this leg so far, you always have to find the right balance. It seems that we are very slippery [fast] under 9 knots, and one of the reasons is the two sails specially developed for these conditions and actually for this leg. From Baltimore on we still have 6 slots left for new sails, from 24 allowed for the race. The planning has worked well.”

Sanderson is not only very positive about the weather for the rest of the leg, but is also pleased with their second position today as he admits that “Black Betty”, their yacht, can’t show off her full potential in the mid range reaching conditions. “It’s a really satisfying result considering most of the day was spent in 7 to 10 knots of wind. Although reaching, which is our strength, it wasn't fully powered up so we weren't showing off our horsepower. We should, however, get quite a lot of fully pressed up reaching coming up, not just in the south easterly trades between here and the Doldrums, but also once through the Doldrums into the north easterly trades as we head towards the Caribbean and then onto the East Coast of the US.”

Third placed Pirates of the Caribbean has not gained on the leaders in the past 24 hours, with Paul Cayard admitting it’s been a tough day being caught under a large cloud and stopping. Adding to this, the wind speed and direction is also not helpful for them as he says they do not have a sail for the conditions. “Sometimes it is "Horses for courses" out here with everyone having slightly different sails and each having their "sweet spot" and each inventory having its "holes" or areas that aren't covered so well. These sails are designed knowing the course and how many hours you will sail in all the conditions. You try to build your sails to achieve the best results in the conditions you expect to see most often and accept that you will be weak in some conditions.”

At the back of the fleet ABN AMRO TWO (Sebastien Josse) has lost another ten nautical miles and are now 32 miles behind Brasil 1 (Torben Grael) with Ericsson Racing Team (John Kostecki) making two nautical miles up in fourth.
Last Updated ( Friday, 07 April 2006 )
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