The Volvo Ocean Race Rounds the World
“This couldn’t have been scripted better in Hollywood”
by Kat Bennett
A victorious Mike Sanderson and crew celebrate winning the Volvo Ocean Race, left. Pirates of the Caribbean is chased by ABN AMRO TWO to the finish of Leg 9 to Gothenburg.
On June 15, a wildly enthusiastic crowd in Rotterdam cheered as the six surviving boats took off for the last 400 miles of the 32,700-nautical-mile competition.
“We wore our arms out waving for two hours straight,” said Paul Cayard skipper of Pirates of the Caribbean.
In choppy seas and 12- to 14-knot winds, ABN AMRO ONE overshot the start and was forced to recross the line. Brunel started one man short, as Graeme Taylor stayed ashore, smitten by the same intestinal bug that weakened Brunel’s crew in Leg 8.
The fleet quickly split in search of the fastest course. Brasil 1, ABN 1 and ABN AMRO TWO raced toward the coastal shore while Pirates, Brunel and Ericcson took off for the open sea. After taking the lead so many times, ABN 1 slowed to last place when it lost the fairing to its keel.
Under low visibility, Brasil 1’s navigator was amazed when radar blips thought to be anchored ships turned out to be rows of wind turbines installed in the sea.
As conditions fluctuated, boats altered their courses to seek better breezes. Pirates headed toward the Danish Coast and passed Brasil 1. Nearly 16 miles ahead of the fleet and almost within sight of the mark, ABN 2 lost wind and was dead in the water. As the crew prayed for enough breeze to carry them to the finish, the Pirates came up from behind. Noting the position of the becalmed ship, Cayard was able to stay with the wind, pass ABN 2 and take the lead.
All was not over yet. Pirates and ABN 2 engaged in an intense gybing duel within sight of the line. Finally, Pirates scooted in to claim the last leg and second place overall in the 2005-2006 Volvo Around the World Race.
“This couldn’t have been scripted better by anyone in Hollywood,” Paul Cayard said on finishing.
Four minutes and 50 seconds later, ABN 2 finished in second place.
“I would love to come back and do another Volvo Ocean Race,” skipper Sebastien Josse said.
Brasil 1 arrived an hour later, taking third for the leg and third overall. Brunel finished in fourth followed by Ericcson in fifth place.
Later, ABN 1, the overall Volvo winner, crossed the line in last place. “It is a dream come true for us at ABN AMRO,” Mike Sanderson as he held aloft Fighting Finish, the Waterford Crystal winner’s trophy.
Then, as 120,000 cheering fans looked on, the shore crew threw skipper Mike Sanderson and the ABN 1 crew into the water.
The Volvo Committee announced more news: Starting in 2008, the Volvo Around the World Ocean Race will sail every three years, with stopovers on every continent, including the Far East, Middle East and the West Coast of the U.S.