TEAM ABN AMRO | VOLVO OCEAN RACE | In-port race Cape Town - South Africa
26 December 2005
ABN AMRO ONE won an impressive first place, followed far behind by the Spanish movistar, then ABN AMRO TWO. The winning boat, skippered by Mike Sanderson, now stands as overall race leader with 15 points. ABN AMRO TWO now has 13 points, only a half point behind Brasil 1, which is in second position overall.
The win was a nice feather in the cap for Sanderson and his crew because they came in last place in the previous inshore race in Spain. "We are very pleased. The key was sticking to the course. We maintained our concentration even though we were in the lead".
Sebastien Josse's crew aboard ABN AMRO TWO were in a jubilant mood as well. They were neck and neck with Pirates of the Caribbean and movistar for much of the race. "I am very happy with this result! We had a lot of wind," 35 knots at times.
A smoking day
The two crews had not only to contend with breezes approaching 70 km/hr, but also with breakages and other problems with sails and rigging. Most of the boats broke something, with the exception of ABN AMRO ONE, and will have to spend some hours before the restart on 2 January getting sails and equipment back into shape.
The race course also got the residue from a Christmas fire on Table Mountain which had been raging for days, as smoke kept filtering down into Table Bay where the race took place.
ABN AMRO TWO at one point broke their battens, which keep the sails tight and working efficiently, as well as ran aground when they got to close to a nearby island. The crew recovered quickly, although tactician Andrew Lewis said he could have made a couple of calls better he was pleased overall.
Navigator Simon Fisher of crew TWO said "it was pretty exciting out there going downwind at 38 knots! It was a great day, but I have to be honest and say I'm glad it's over." The race lasted over two and a half hours, and all the crews were tired as they pulled into port. Crew TWO was very excited at having done so well, particularly as they had much less experience than some of their competitors.
One sailor had to sit out the race: Mark Christensen of ABN AMRO ONE. He watched from shore due to an injury. "It was harder than I expected," he said. "The guys on board will be pleased. We feel very proud of what we have done on the boat and sails, showing what we are capable of."
Back at the dock...
The sailors were greeted with cheers and applause at the dock, as their anthems played. For ABN AMRO ONE, their anthem is "Black Betty" whilst for ABN AMRO TWO their anthem is "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes, signifying the seven nations represented on board.
Mike Sanderson said "hopefully we showed people how wet and wild these boats are. Add to that a few icebergs, sleep deprivation and we should get some great footage out of the Southern Ocean!" He credited his success partly to having a very flexible canting keel and a solid design by Argentinian Juan Kouyoumdjian.
A special Cape Christmas present
Sanderson had a special message for South Africa. "Cape Town has been wonderful to us, we have just loved being here. Thank you, Cape Town!"
In the official prize-giving ceremony Sanderson liberally sprayed the crowd with champagne. "We came into Cape Town first and second, and now first and third. What more could we ask for?"
Dutch skipper Bouwe Bekking of movistar, which took second place, took his hat off to the two ABN AMRO boats. "This race is won on crewwork, and ABN AMRO ONE had a flawless race today. We unfortunately made one mistake which cost us".
Looking to the future, Bekking said, "I think ABN AMRO ONE will be very competitive in this next leg. We have also realised how competitive ABN AMRO TWO is as well."
Port Log 58: Recharging the batteries
7 December 2005
It took less than 72 hours after landing to have the crew charged up and running again. Monday morning TEAM ABN AMRO (boat and shore crew) was reunited in full force at the base camp in Cape Town to start working for the next in-port race and the next leg.
Just like a Formula 1 team that takes apart cars immediately after each Grand Prix, since Saturday the two ABN AMRO boats were already out of the water and being stripped down. Speed is the name of the game in the Volvo Ocean Race.
The faster you are, the faster you have to be, the faster you are able to move, take decisions and the faster you will be. “The VOR is long, we need to improve constantly. If we don’t the others catch up” were
the opening words of Mike Sanderson, the skipper of ABN AMRO ONE and the winner of the first leg and overall leader of the toughest ocean race on earth.
It was the perfect opening for a debrief, the formal meeting of the crews on board ABN AMRO ONE and TWO. This meeting is to question performances, to obtain knowledge or intelligence gathered in the first “close to perfection” leg. It was the right time to talk about all the tasks on board, from mundane cooking and eating to extraordinary tactical choices.
The TEAM base camp in Cape Town
Men talking about future tests and recent experiences, conscious of the importance of keeping their bodies
in perfect condition to make the machine work even better. Everything was laid out, talked about, discussed when necessary and remembered with pleasure. Nothing was left untouched: maneuvers, watch system, navigation, sails, tools, spares, routines, competitors and new ideas were deeply ventilated. It is the TEAM ABN AMRO working at full speed to be ready for the next challenges.
Good mood and concrete actions
A first class atmosphere fills TEAM ABN AMRO’s singular pavilion at the Waterfront. It is the evidence of the team spirit, the joy and the efficiency that all of them have demonstrated. “Thank you again, guys” finished Mike Sanderson. “We are quick off the starting line again. We will soon be back in the water testing and learning at the same time and more than ever proudly flying the ABN AMRO flag once again!”