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Volvo crews prepare to sail for Rio

by Volvo/Sacha Oswald on 18 Feb 2006
Brasil1 opens up and dries out in prepartion for the restart from Wellington Adrian Rumney
It was all go on the final day before the Volvo Ocean Race fleet departs as Ericsson finished leg three, Pirates of the Caribbean made a last minute crew change and movistar returned to the water.

After suspending racing at the end of leg three to make repairs to the boat, Ericsson, skippered by British sailor Neal McDonald, finally crossed the finish line on Wellington Bay two days after the winning boat of the leg - movistar.

Although Ericsson has spent the last 24 hours tied up on Queen’s Wharf, next to the other Volvo Open 70’s, she had not actually finished leg three and therefore could not be awarded finishing points. As the stop in Wellington is a pit-stop, shore crew members are not permitted onboard unless the teams wish to incur a two-hour time penalty. As Ericsson’s leg points could not be affected because it was the last boat to finish, the team made the call to carry out their repairs on leg three to prevent them having to take a two hour time penalty for leg four.

McDonald said: 'We had an opportunity to fix a wiring problem that we had. It was an issue and we needed professional help to get it fixed, which we have now done. We desperately need points on this leg and we have a lot of work to do. We are up against some incredibly good teams and we have to try and get some points and sail hard. It is really important for us as a team to do that.'

It was a busy day for the leg winners on movistar. After celebrating their first leg victory in the race, the boat was hauled out to repair damage to the bottom of the boat. movistar is the only boat to decide to take the two hour time penalty and will start leg four at 1630 (local), two hours after the rest of the fleet have departed.

As if getting ready for the longest leg is not hard enough, Paul Cayard (USA), Skipper of Pirates of the Caribbean, suffered disappointment as team member Curtis Blewett (CAN) bowed out of leg four due to injury. Shore member Jeremy Smith (NZ) steps up to the role and will join the Pirates for the next leg.

Blewett, who had taken time out from Alinghi to race with the team and will return as planned to the America’s Cup in March, commented: 'I am very disappointed because we were a late entry to the race and it has taken a lot of work to get The Black Pearl working well. We finally reached that point in Melbourne and gained a great deal on leg three.'

The skippers were wished on their way today by Conservation Minister Chris Carter, who presented each of the skippers with a copy of the book Subantarctic New Zealand before the skippers signed a pledge to support the Save the Albatross campaign which has been adopted by the Volvo Ocean Race.

Leg four takes the teams 6,700 nautical miles through the Southern Ocean, via Cape Horn, to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The fleet will start from a line in the vicinity of Lambton Harbour, Port Nicholson, before racing around two marks in the harbour and then heading off out to sea and over the horizon.

To prevent the fleet heading too far South in the Southern Ocean and risk colliding with icebergs, two ice gates have been inserted into the course which the teams will have to pass north of at some point. The fleet are expected to arrive into Rio de Janeiro on the 9th March.

During the entire leg there is an opportunity to pick up ten and a half points. The lead boat around Cape Horn will pick up three and a half points as the Horn provides a spectacular scoring gate. The leg winner will add a further seven points to their overall score.

Although ABN AMRO ONE has a lead of ten and a half points it is by no means a comfortable one as there is still plenty of the race left to sail. With eight points separating second and fifth place, the Southern Ocean will provide an exciting battle ground for the fleet.

Mike Sanderson, skipper of ABN AMRO ONE commented: 'We are really looking forward to getting into the next leg although not so much the physical side. The leg has been playing havoc with our minds as it is a big one for us. If we can sail a solid leg again then maybe it’s going to be the turning point in the race for our team.'

Listen the restart live at www.volvooceanrace.org.

Current Leaderboard - [position/team name/skipper/race points to date]

1. TEAM ABN AMRO ONE, Mike Sanderson (NZL) 38.5 pts
2. TEAM ABN AMRO TWO, Sebastien Josse (FRA) 28 pts
3. Movistar, Bouwe Bekking (NED) 25 pts
4. Pirates of the Caribbean, Paul Cayard (USA) 21.5 pts
5. Brasil 1, Torben Grael (BRA) 20 pts
6. Ericsson Racing Team, Neal McDonald (GBR) 16.5 pts

Crew lists for leg four
(Wellington, New Zealand – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 6,700 nm)

ABN AMRO ONE
Mike Sanderson (NZ) – Skipper
Stan Honey (USA) – Navigator
Brad Jackson (NZ)
Mark Christensen (NZ)
Tony Mutter (NZ)
Sidney Gavignet (FRA)
David Endean (NZ)
Jan Dekker (RSA)
Robert Greenhalgh (GBR)
Justin Slattery (IRL)

ABN AMRO TWO
Sebastien Josse (FRA) – Skipper
Simon Fisher (GBR) – Navigator
Andrew Lewis (USA)
George Peet (USA)
Lucas Brun (BRA) [replaces Gerd Jan Poortman (NED)]
Hans Horrevoets (NED)
Luke Molloy (AUS)
Nick Bice (AUS)
Scott Beavis (NZ)
Simeon Tienpont (NED)

Brasil 1
Torben Grael (BRA) – Skipper
Marcel van Triest (NED) – Navigator
André Fonseca (BRA)
Andy Meiklejohn (NZ)
Henrique Pellicano (BRA)
João Signorini (BRA)
Horacio Carabelli (BRA)
Roberto Bermudez (ESP)
Stuart Wilson (NZ)
Knut Frostad (NOR)

Ericsson Racing Team
Neal McDonald (GBR) – Skipper
Steve Hayles (GBR) – Navigator
Damien Foxall (IRL)
David Rolfe (NZ)
Guillermo Altadill (ESP)
Jason Carrington (GBR)
Magnus Woxen (SWE)
Richard Mason (NZ)
Thomas Braidwood (AUS)
Timothy Powell (GBR)

movistar
Bouwe Bekking (NED) – Skipper
Andrew Cape (AUS) – Navigator
Chris Nicholson (AUS)
Jonathan Swain (USA)
Mike Joubert (RSA)
Noel Drennan (IRL)
Pepe Ribes (ESP)
Peter Doriean (AUS)
Stu Bannatyne (NZ)
Xabier Fernandez (ESP)

Pirates of the Caribbean
Paul Cayard (USA) – Skipper
Jules Salter (GBR) – Navigator
Craig Satterthwaite (NZ)
Jeremy Smith (NZ) [replaces Curtis Blewett (CAN)]
Erle William (NZ)
Anthony Merrington (AUS)
Justin Clougher (AUS)
Justin Ferris (NZ)
Rodney Ardern (NZ)
Dirk de Ridder (NED)
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