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Volume 14, Issue 11 ~ March 16 - March 22, 2006

Riding with the Volvo Ocean Race

Landing: Rio de Janeiro

by Kat Bennnett

After the Volvo Ocean Race’s wild ride on the Southern Ocean, it seemed that nothing could be more exciting —least of all sailing in light air. But as the boats sailed up the South American Coast, they closed in on each other in a fierce contest. Positions shifted so often that no one could sleep. Squall after squall smacked the racers with pouring rain so heavy they could not see.

ABN AMRO ONE maintained the lead, sliding into first place to complete 6,700 nautical miles in 20 days, one hour and 40 minutes.

The other boats followed close. Despite losing its main spinnaker, Brasil1 slipped past the stalled Pirates of the Caribbean, moving into position for second place. But Pirates grabbed the wind to nose past Brasil1 and snag second place.

ABN AMRO TWO also swept past Brasil1 to take third in memorial tribute to Nikita, Capt. Mike Sanderson’s Labrador retriever, claimed by cancer days earlier.

Brasil1 missed a podium spot by 25 minutes, but gliding in for fourth place the crew received every bit the hero’s welcome as their countrymen welcomed them home.

The crew on Ericsson was disappointed with fifth place, but Capt. Neal MacDonald focused on the positive. “Cape Horn was absolutely spectacular,” he wrote. “It was like the books that you read when you are a child. We had blue skies and massive waves.”

Movistar, arriving last, is expected to reach Rio before you read this.

The Tampere, the container ship carrying Brunel to Baltimore, makes several ports of call before sailing through the Panama Canal April 12. This puts Brunel’s expected arrival around April 22, in time to greet its fellow racers.

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