Volume 14, Issue 22 ~ June 1 - June 7, 2006

Following the Volvo Ocean Race

Leg 8: Six Boats Continue to Gothenburg

by Kat Bennnett

With ABN AMRO ONE unbeatably ahead as Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race begins, the battle for second and third place intensifies. Movistar is out of the competition, her team ashore and the ship presumed lost. While she may still be afloat, hope for recovery now depends on the insurance companies.

With only 12 points separating Brasil 1, Ericsson, the Pirates and ABN AMRO Two, any one of these four is positioned to grab the second and third podium places beside ABN1.

For the in-port at Portland, England, on the heels of the tragedies of Leg 7, conditions shifted from sun to storms; from gusts of 40 knots to a six-knot breeze.

Dee Caffari rode along with ABN1 for the in-port race. She had earned her place after sailing into history as the first woman to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe non-stop against prevailing winds and currents. She brought good luck to the Dutch boat, which snatched first place from Pirates, which came in second, less than four minutes later, despite a torn spinnaker. Brasil 1 followed for third with the rest of the boats less than seven minutes behind.

ABN2 chose to race in port to honor their lost comrade, Hans Horrevoet. The crew believed his spirit would watch over them, but they were nonetheless surprised when a pigeon landed in their cockpit — where Horrevoet had been swept overboard — just after the starting gun. The bird rode along for the entire wave-bashing race, flying off only when the finishing cannon sounded their fourth place, less than three minutes after Brasil 1.

Replacing the lost sailor on ABN2 is Gerd Poortman, who was, ironically, replaced by Horrevoet after his own injury.

Ericsson lost ground when the boat’s dagger board dropped, sheering off the board stopper. The crew managed to pull the board up, only to rip the spinnaker halfway through the race. Still they finished fifth, one minute and 50 seconds after ABN2. Brunel took sixth place crossing the line a single boat length behind Ericsson.

On June 2, the racers start Leg 8 with a 1,500-nautical-mile race around the British Isles before they peel of toward Rotterdam. Crews are expected to finish by June 7, provided they can wriggle their way through the commercial boats and oil rigs crowding narrow sailing channels flanked by wide sandbars. This leg is too short to allow the crews a full rest cycle, so fatigue will dog them.

Fleet standings at the end of Leg 7

1: ABN AMRO One (Netherlands), 84.5 points

2: Pirates of the Carribbean (USA), 59.5 points

3: Brasil 1 (Brazil), 52 points

4: ABN AMRO Two (Netherlands), 48.5 points

5: Movistar (Spain), 48 points

6: Ericsson (Sweden), 45 points

7: Brunel (Australia), 8 points

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