Volume 14, Issue 26 ~ June 29 - July 5, 2006

Concluding the Volvo Ocean Race

2005-’06 ends; planning for 2008-’09 begins

by Kat Bennett

In a spectacular cross between an Olympic procession and a football half-time show, the Volvo Ocean Race ended with a parade of musicians and dancers representing each port, leading the teams, starting with first placing ABN AMRO ONE. There were Flamenco dancers from Spain, cheerleaders from the United States, Australian aborigines and Maori warriors chanting ka mate’ ka mate’, ka ora ka ora — ’Tis death ’tis death, ’tis life, ’tis life — a fitting mantra for the 2005-2006 race.

This was a race that touched life and death. Such a race is never far from death. These are men who face danger, death and life with all its wild glory and quiet beauty. Five sailors have died in the 32-year history of the Volvo/Whitbread, with Hans Horrevoets, washed overboard from ABN AMRO TWO on Leg 6, the fifth.

It is a race about life as well. To every port came wives and sweethearts with their children, the generations of sailors to come.

Over the months of the race, these Olympians of the sea won honors for their achievements, ingenuity and daring. Brasil 1 earned a trophy from ocean transport giant Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics for success in recovering broken rigging and in recycling leaking hydraulic fluid, thus setting standards for cleaner, healthier oceans.

ABN2 won the Gant trophy for the fastest 24-hour run — 562.96 nautical miles — and the $1,000 media award, presented by Olympic medalist and racing icon Pelle Petterson, for their outstanding emails and photography. Best of all the honors must have been the Seamanship award from Movistar for their rescue when their boat had to be abandoned.

Fellow racers from ABN1 took home honors for winning the most in-port races — and, of course, the Waterford crystal trophy first-place round-the-world trophy.

After Pirates of the Caribbean took their second-place trophy and Brasil 1 their third, all teams turned to recognize Mark Christensen, the only person to have crewed on three winning Volvo/Whitbread races (EF Language, Illibruck and ABN1). Then Brasil 1 skipper Torben Grael jumped up on the stage to present Mike Sanderson, skipper of ABN 1, with a paper key. Sanderson held the key to the ocean, Torben said, but must race again in 2008 to keep it.

What’s Next

“I just want to go again,” said Justin Clougher, bowman for Pirates of the Caribbean, as the race finished in Gothenburg.

“Most of us will be going on to the America’s Cup,” said ABN2 navigator Simon Fisher. “But it’s not quite the same.”

“’Tis the sailing we live for,” said Andrew Lewis of ABN2.

These racers will get the opportunity to sail Volvo sooner than expected now that the next race has been scheduled to start in 2008 in Alicante, Spain. The Spanish starting port guarantees another Spanish ship, perhaps a new Movistar, to race.

Perhaps the Volvo 2008 will see the first Asian entry with the new possibility of a trans-Pacific leg.

Perhaps there will again be an all-woman crew.

Some of the Volvo 70s will keep on sailing. ABN 1 and ABN 2 are scheduled for numerous regattas, including, for ABN 2, the Chicago-Mackinac Race and the 180th Cowes Week. Started in the U.K. in 1826, Cowes will host over 35 classes of boats from around the world this August. Brunel has entered the Gosford to Lord Howe race at the end of October to prepare for the 2006 Rolex Sydney Hobart race, an Australia-New Zealand competition at the World Cup level.

Some — ABN1 and Ericsson — have already signed on for the next Volvo Round the World race.

What We Take Away

This Volvo Ocean Race lives on not only in memory but also in two documentary formats: Life at the Extreme — a film featuring on-board footage shot as the boats sailed, stalled or foundered — and a full-color book summarizing the most intense, frustrating and beautiful moments of this year’s event.

This week, the Disney movie Pirates of the Caribbean, Legend of the Black Pearl comes to the screen.

Yet the experience goes beyond entertainment. Annapolis is a small city, and sailing touches us all. Shopkeepers, reporters and locals remembered Hans Horrevoets. At Viking Marine Supplies, Travis Melott met Hans and his family when they came in for supplies. “They were happy,” he recalled. “It seems strange knowing he was here and now he’s gone.”

When Pirates of the Caribbean skipper Paul Cayard noticed a shy midshipman, he stepped forward and shook the naval student’s hand. The children of crew dashed about City Dock while family and friends shopped and mingled. Over 1.3 billion people around the world watched the Volvo Race on television; here in Annapolis, we not only saw the race but touched it and felt it in our hearts.

“Remember, the richest people on the planet are the ones with the best experiences,” Cayard said. From this race, we are richer.

Kat Bennett has reported to Bay Weekly readers on the Volvo Ocean Race for the past 17 weeks. Kat has participated in Annapolis racing, including CBYRA Race week and the Leukemia Cup Regatta, and is the proud possessor of a hard-earned Mount Gay Cap.

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