Boatmail- The Last Waltz for the VOR 2005/06

Stan Honey on deck of ABN AMRO ONE, Leg 9 to Gothenburg
www.abnamro.com/team
From: ABN AMRO TWO QFB LEG NINE DAY 3
Sent: 17 June 2006 08:01
Hi There,

In the final stages of this race we are once more left drifting around in little if no wind. It is a nervous time here on ABN AMRO TWO as we ghost through the water at the head of the fleet. We are all praying that we have enough breeze to carry us over the finish. Simeon (Tienpont) is up the rig looking for breeze, in fact for the first time in this race despite being a bowman. At 105 kilos it is no mean feat hauling his bulk up the thirty metre mast!!

The last 24 hours have been good to us, each sched being a little more positive than the last, egging the boys onward towards the finish. We have been free from park ups having always had more breeze than the forecast as we sailed around the tip of Denmark. However, trickier times are now upon us. With only 4 knots of wind the going is getting very, very slow.

Despite the calm conditions and the slow pace of the boat there is little time to reflect upon what we have accomplished in the last eight months. That can all come later. There is the odd joke about - this is the last time we will do this or that, knowing tonight it will all be over. But for the time being the race is still very much alive for us here and not nearly over yet. We have yet to secure our position and even get to the line in the dying breeze...

Cheers, For now,

Simon Fisher - navigator

From: BRUNEL QFB LEG NINE DAY 2 (2)
Sent: 16 June 2006 20:17
Very slow going out here. We are crawling up the coast under a code 2 chute, staysail and full main. ABN2 and Brasil have done well out of the shifts and the better breeze inshore and have built up a reasonable lead. In the light running conditions we just had to watch as Pirates hauled us in. Pretty painful. The boys are joking that we have the right boat for the Global Challenge as she seems to go best upwind!! Speaking from experience though, they are entirely wrong and the 72' steel boats built by the Challenge Business are ideal for their job!

I notice how much use is made of wind power here in Europe. There have been wind fields all the way up the coast. In fact we sailed though a new wind field under construction off the Dutch coast. Europe is far ahead of Australia and the US in this area and we really should follow their lead. In Australia there are serious attempts at building more windmills but the NIMBY (Not in My backyard) principle is alive and well in Australia and this is hindering efforts.

Just ran the latest routing. Very slow!! We will still be out here on Sunday unless the RC shorten the course. It seems inevitable they will.. the question is where?? No one wants a total lottery for the last race so let’s hope we finish before we lose the wind totally!

Cheers,
Will Oxley - navigator

From: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN QFB LEG NINE DAY 2 (2)
Sent: 16 June 2006 17:38
After getting punished by the right, we finally bit the bullet hard and went into the right corner. We left Ericsson and ABN1 and actually sailed on the un-favored board by 20 degrees for an hour.

The reward is that we have caught up and just recently passed Brunel and now Brasil is the boat in front of us. We are in a position that works for us for now.

That was an extremely frustrating episode this morning, one without much reason, but we are past that hurdle.

The wind is nothing at all like the forecasts. In fact, it is about 180 degrees out and has been for most of this short race.

For now, we look good on ABN1 and Ericsson and ABN2 has done a very nice job. However, this is definitely one of those races that will not be over until the Fat Lady sings.

I think the wind is going to completely collapse up here at the next corner in about 40 miles. The little bit of wind we had today was created by the Danish coast and now that is evaporating.

It could be a long night without much wind. I suppose it will be the last night of this race.

Paul Cayard - SKIPPER

From: ABN AMRO TWO QFB LEG NINE DAY 2
Sent: 16 June 2006 13:56
Hi There,

For our final dash in this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race we are once again tip toeing around in light airs as opposed to charging about like we did many months ago in the south. Once again though we have a close race and this time there is even more to fight for. For us this is our last chance saloon to secure fourth place. If we finish ahead of Ericsson then all good, if not we have to settle for fifth. Right now we are all fighting our hardest to make sure it is the former of the two! This light air battle up into the Baltic may not be perfect ABN AMRO TWO conditions, we all prefer blasting around in 30 knots and playing to our boats strengths, but right now there is no longer time for excuses. We are looking beyond the limitations of our boat and doing all we can to secure a good position. So far, so good but I'd hate to speak to soon.

Right now we have lost the fleet in the fog but the last position report brought good news. However, having had a brief snapshot of the fleet I am forced to wait another six long hours. The weather too is confusing, all our weather models are way of the mark so once again we are forced to use our best judgement and hope we might outsmart the rest. For sure the grey hairs are coming out once more, adding to the ones I've gained over the last eight months. I'm sitting patiently, waiting nervously for some indication of gain or loss.

However, this leg is already better than the last! There maybe no sun, fog, drizzle and sometimes even rain not too mention little breeze, but this time there's food. Lots and lots of food. With no danger of rationing in the next two days we are all set to eat like kings! This alone is enough to keep us all smiling...

Cheers,

Simon Fisher - navigator

From: ABN AMRO ONE QFB LEG NINE DAY 2
Sent: 16 June 2006 11:15
We always knew that the Rotterdam stop-over would be big for us, Home port, in our home country, it was going to be busy. The reality is though, that it far out weighed our expectation. The amount of public support and enthusiasm for the Volvo Ocean Race was huge. Whenever we went anywhere with the boats there where hundreds of spectator boats, and there was a constant crowd at the race village which then rose too football stadium numbers for arrivals and departures.. very, very cool. Thank you Rotterdam and the Netherlands for a wonderful time, just such a shame that it was not for a bit longer, it all seemed to come and go very quickly.

The stopover went well for us from a race standpoint on ABN AMRO 1 as well. Second for the leg after a record slow trip from Portsmouth, was a result that we where very happy with and maybe the biggest surprise of any of the podium finishes so far in the race. But the most exciting day was the day that we won the in-port race, even though it was the afternoon of the Dutch's first game of the Soccer world Cup. There where hundreds of boats out on the water and people lining the shore all the way up and down the 20 mile strip of the river.

We led from start to finish in conditions that where well under our optimum so it was a very satisfying result, and a great treat to give to our home crowd.

This leg hasn't been going so well. We were a little over anxious to get a good start and were over the line apparently when the gun went, so had to go back which cost us a few minutes. But then all day yesterday the boat just didn't feel itself, the conditions should have been great for us, normally w are just a bullet in a good 13 to 15 knot beat, we now know why though, since it's final inspection in the water we must have picked up or hit something in the water which has knocked off the fairing between the steel and the carbon part of our keel, it's not structural and we have no risk of it causing any more damage, but it is for sure slowing us down, what a huge relief that we don't need a result in this leg to still win ove
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