Volume 14, Issue 17 ~ April 27 - May 3, 2006

Riding with the Volvo Ocean Race

In Baltimore, Sailors and Ships Get Seaworthy

New changes mean new chances for the Volvo crews in Baltimore. First is the reappearance of Brunel, bringing the seven original competitors back together again. This Australian contender arrived by freighter Monday, April 24, after an unscheduled delay. As soon as Brunel cleared customs, her shore team and sailing crew worked day and night for 48 hours to ready her for the in-port race on April 29 in Annapolis.

In the few days before the start of the in-port race, the keel and mast had to be fitted, modifications below the waterline fine-tuned, twin daggerboard cases fitted with their new boards and many new sails tried for the first time. Then the boat must pass inspection by the Volvo Ocean Race Chief Measurer James Dadd before taking its place on display at the docks at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Brunel’s dropped points prevent her from taking a winning position, but she can steal much-needed points from the other boats, which steps up the pressure on everyone.

She’s not the only boat experiencing changes. Ericsson’s new skipper, John Kostecki, may leave the race to honor previous commitments to Michael Illbruck’s Transpac 52 Campaign. Kostecki said the decision about whether he will be allowed to finish more of the race will be made in days. If not, then management must decide whether they will select a third captain or reinstate Neal MacDonald, currently crewing as watch captain.

The Volvo boats are out of the water, but that does not mean that everyone is kicking back and relaxing. ABN AMRO TWO crews are busy repairing leaking stanchions as well as prepping for potential damages in crossing the Atlantic. Rotterdam does not have haul-out facilities, so ABN AMRO TWO is setting up the boat to make repairs in the water. Jan Poortman, their bowman for Leg 3, had suffered a broken coccyx and lower vertebrae when a wave slammed him across the deck. In Baltimore, he is working hard to return to the race.

There is no lounging around for the crew of Movistar, either. Capt. Bouwe Bekking credits training and fitness for Movistar’s lack of injuries. Bekking starts with a recovery cool-down for his crew during their first four days in port, then he adds weight training, charting each man’s progress.

“Our fitness has actually gone up through the race when usually it goes away,” he said, noting that he is five percent fitter than at the start of the race.

Get Involved in Volvo

• Meet and Greet sailors of ABN AMRO ONE and ABN AMRO TWO in two ways at the Baltimore Harbor Gala: I Sea You! VIP reception 7-11pm Thurs., April 27, Maryland Science Center, Baltimore: $250, includes May 4 10:30am brunch with the crew and spectator cruise at noon for the parade of sail ($200 May 4 only): 410-327-9812 x38; www.bestbuddiesmaryland.org.

• High school and college sailors are invited to register for a forum with Volvo Ocean Race crew members at 2pm April 30 at the Baltimore Trade Center. To register, e-mail name, school and contact phone number to info@oceanracechesapeake.org.

• The Volvo Ocean Race Prize Giving Ceremony for Leg 5 and in-port race prizes includes a reception and concert by Grammy winner John Legend. 7:30pm, Sun., April 30, at the Hippodrome Theatre, 12 North Eutaw St., Baltimore: $100: www.ticketmaster.com.

• The Annual Chesapeake Bay Bridge Walk coincides with the re-start of the Volvo Ocean Race, 9am Sunday, May 7. Gov. Robert Ehrlich kicks off the 4.5-mile walk, weather permitting. Walkers this year may glimpse the race as the boats begin Leg 6 to Rotterdam: 877-BAYSPAN 410-229-7726.

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