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TEAM ABN AMRO | VOLVO OCEAN RACE | Leg 3 | Melbourne - Wellington

ABN AMRO ONE comes in second just nine seconds behind movistar

16 February 2006
In one of the closest reported finishes in Volvo history, ABN AMRO ONE came a close second to movistar, only nine seconds behind the race leader. In the leadup to the Wellington Bay after almost 1,500 miles, the boats were neck and neck with movistar leading for much of the distance close to shore. The day was bright and sunny with perfect conditions, and the docks were lined with spectators wondering what would happen next.

Skipper Mike Sanderson said he wasn’t disappointed really at losing out, and so closely, to movistar. He looked fairly relaxed coming into shore, considering the hot and heavy sailing just outside the bay. ABN AMRO ONE is still the race leader in terms of overall points. “movistar came up so quickly, one sched (six-hourly report) we had a 30 mile lead on them and then soon after we had them right behind us. movistar did a fantastic race, and had a big tactical duel.”

Navigator Stan Honey was typically optimistic. “That was great racing! It was one of the best races any of us had ever raced. I only wished we had come in on the other side.”

A bang-up finish
Despite at times patchy winds, ABN AMRO ONE and movistar waged a nonstop fight to best the other. They each changed sails multiple times, sought the best tides and wrung every bit of advantage out of the conditions.

Skipper Bouwe Bekking of movistar said on the dock, “I know it was only nine seconds, but a win is a win. It was very sweet. Sometimes they were a little bit quicker than us, but we just managed to hang on.” "We just got a chance to catch ABN AMRO ONE in light airs," said New Zealander Stu Ballantyne of movistar.

Bowman Justin Slattery said, “the last 12 hours movistar sailed a bit better, and they deserved to win.”

Sailor Mark Christensen, who had been forced to sit out Leg 2 due to an arm injury, was a bit disappointed personally. He said the forecasts weren’t always reliable and that made it hard to navigate. “The breeze just shut down completely at times, and filled in unfortunately from behind.” He said this was the point the crew sighted movistar and weren’t quite able to maintain their lead.

“Stan did an awesome job, but we just got to land at the wrong time,” said Christensen. “We can’t be disappointed, we did everything we could. We didn’t lose the leg because we are slower in light wind, but because there was no wind.”

Reactions
The New Zealand Army greeted movistar with a traditional haka Maori dance.

Emma Richards, fiancee of skipper Mike Sanderson, said "this is one of the most exciting race finishes I've ever seen!" She was the first to be hugged by Sanderson once on the dock, followed by his mother Geraldine of Auckland.

Shore technical director Ben Wright said the crews of ABN AMRO ONE and TWO will be busy restoring not only themselves but their boats as well. Under the Volvo rules, no shore crew members can board the boats here in the Wellington pit stop. There is bow pulpit (railing) damage on both boats and a little sail damage on ABN AMRO TWO. This will keep the sailors busy on Friday and Saturday before they depart again for Rio on Sunday 19 February. The sailors will need to lash the pulpit down with rope after stretching it first. "It won't look pretty, but it should be safer and stronger what it is now," said Wright. There are less than half the shore crew here for advice, given that only the sailors must be on shore.

The other major repair will be of Gerd Jan "Johnny" Poortman, who busted open his head and bruised his back on one of the daggerboards. The Volvo Medical Co-ordinator Timo Malinen will likely need to stitch him up a bit and make sure he has no infection before he heads out again on Sunday.

"As soon as he comes in, we'll take him off and look at him," said Malinen.

The managing director of TEAM ABN AMRO, Jan Berent Heukensfeldt Jansen, said “ it’s always hard if you lose your first pace lead by nine seconds, and if you final goal is to win this race. In a good race we need competition, and tough competition makes a great race. Isn’t that what we all want?”

Sanderson felt they ended up well. "We managed to fight to the end. When conditions were good, we went very fast. We managed to keep the boat in one piece, so that was important. Now it’s time to rest up for the next leg to Rio."

Repairing men and boats
The other major repair will be of Gerd Jan "Johnny" Poortman, who busted open his head and bruised his back on one of the daggerboards. The Volvo Medical Co-ordinator Timo Malinen will likely need to stitch him up a bit and make sure he has no infection before he heads out again on Sunday.

"As soon as he comes in, we'll take him off and look at him," said Malinen.

The managing director of TEAM ABN AMRO, Jan Berent Heukensfeldt Jansen, said “ it’s always hard if you lose your first pace lead by nine seconds, and if you final goal is to win this race. In a good race we need competition, and tough competition makes a great race. Isn’t that what we all want?”

Sanderson felt they ended up well. "We managed to fight to the end. When conditions were good, we went very fast. We managed to keep the boat in one piece, so that was important. Now it’s time to rest up for the next leg to Rio."


© TEAM ABN AMRO - www.abnamro.com/team

Report 53 - Thriller under the Moon

14 February 2006, 22:00 UTC

From Wellington by TEAM ABN AMRO Brazilian correspondent Carlos 'Lua' Mauro
Leg 3 of the Volvo Ocean Race is proving to be rich in thrilling moments. Due to the conditions of wind and sea, and the shortness of the Melbourne to Wellington passage, the boats have been sailing closer together and giving an unforgettable spectacle.

ABN AMRO ONE, the evasive leader, is playing once more the main role also in the drama department. The boat is watching its leadership vanish, as it is the first boat to get to the light winds.

After just about three days of competition, and with just 247miles to go to Wellington, movistar and now Pirates (navigating on a more northerly route than the Dutch ABN AMRO ONE) have approached the leader and are now separated by respectively 20 and 59 miles. ABN AMRO ONE is not sitting passively, and has reacted slowly, moving form his southern road. It is in search of a better angle to negotiate Cape Farewell at the north tip of New Zealand’s South Island.

Brasil1, ABN AMRO TWO and Ericsson, with what apparently seem to be sail-related tribulations, appear to have missed the “weather front train” and can only wait for something go off the rails in front of them.

One more nighttime battle under a full moon is ahead of the three leading boats. Curiously, this is ABN AMRO ONE or 'Black Betty,' the black-hulled movistar and the Black Pearl. This is one more black cloud to test Mike Sanderson’s strength.


© TEAM ABN AMRO - www.abnamro.com/team


Log 87 Skipper Mike Sanderson: Bam-a-lamming to Wellington

13 February 2006, 09:33 UTC

If you love sports and great events, then you will love the city of Melbourne, they really know how to hold an event and the Melbourne stopover was no exception, just things happening all the time to get everyone down there to get a close look at the boats.

For the first time as far as I am aware in the race's history there was a big platform set up so that the visitors to the Race Village could come and see the teams working on their boats when they where out of the water. And then the docks that the boats were later on were nice and large as well, so there was no problem when there where the big numbers visiting to be able to get right down and get a good look.
I do hope that the Melbourne stopover is used by the next places that we visit in the race as a success story that they would like to compare with, a big thanks to Peter and his team there from all of us at TEAM ABN AMRO.

From slow to bam…
Getting out of Port Philip Bay was always going to be a little exciting, at start time we had a lovely 12 knot norwesterly. But we all knew that was short term, and that it would take the northerly to get killed off by Melbourne's famous sea breeze to get us out of there.

So it was sail nicely for an hour or so, everyone taking their turn getting a little streak of breeze and then drift around for a few hours, working feverishly for every little inch until, bam, in came the southerly sea breeze with the wind speed going from two to 20 knots very quickly..

We changed straight from our biggest light airs genoa straight to our Number 4 jib and away we went. With these being pretty nice ABN AMRO ONE "Black Betty" conditions we worked our way to the front of the pack quite quickly, and had a nice little lead of probably a mile by the time we met the steep wind against tide seas at Port Philip Bay's very narrow entrance.

Once through there, we tacked onto starboard and started bearing away for New Zealand, big breeze, big waves and boat speeds often up over the 30 knot mark. For sure it was Wellington here we come!!!!
The night was all a bit like that, had to do a few sail changes to weave our way through the islands of Bass Strait, but for the last 12 hours or so have been broad reaching changing between our reaching code 0 and our fractional gennaker, and it looks like it could be a mixture of that all the way to Cook Strait.

From a marathon to a sprint
Life on board is a little different for this Leg, bottom line is that we almost have to sprint this one. Hard to think of a 1,500 mile race as a sprint, but with the forecast it could well be a just a bit over three days, so that is more like a normal Fastnet or Sydney-Hobart race. So even though we are sticking to our watch rotations the boys are living in their wet weather gear 24 hours a day and we are just cat napping, so that we can be on deck in a heartbeat.

Having some awesome racing with movistar just a couple of miles away and all the fleet is in fact pretty close, as the in-port race showed, this race is really starting to hot up…

Talk soon.

Cheers,

Mike Sanderson


ABN AMRO TEAM

© TEAM ABN AMRO | © Jon Nash - www.abnamro.com/team


Preparing to pounce 04:00 UTC

13 February 2006 0400 UTC

From Melbourne by TEAM ABN AMRO Brazilian correspondent Carlos 'Lua' Mauro

After the completion of the first 24 hours of racing, Leg 4 now gives a hint of what is to happen. All of the competitors are waiting to find the best moment to pounce back in this fight. There continues to be practically the same difference from the most northerly and southerly positioned boats, as from the first to sixth placed vessels.

Movistar continues in front followed by ABN AMRO ONE, three miles behind now. Brasil 1 has gained two spots and gone into third, with Pirates losing one spot and falling into fourth. ABN AMRO TWO has gone one up and now holds fifth, with Ericsson losing two spots and closing in 6th. Looks like the southern positions held by these last three boats has been returning less dividends than those that the three “northerners” are enjoying, composed of (in this order) Brasil 1, movistar and ABN AMRO ONE.

The first 24 hours (in spite of the less breezy situation inside Port Phillip Bay) have produced more than 350 miles of progress for each boat in the fleet. The differences between them are still very little and will probably continue to be so until the end of this exciting leg.

The choice of sails, routes and how aggressive to sail will determine who will make the next attack move. And where and when.

© TEAM ABN AMRO - www.abnamro.com/team

ABN AMRO TEAM

© TEAM ABN AMRO | © Jon Nash - www.abnamro.com/team


A navigator prepares for Leg 3: Stan Honey on racing a short-haul leg

ABN AMRO ONE Navigator Stan Honey

11 February 2006
The preparations a team undergoes are no less strenuous for a short-haul leg like the one coming on 12 February from Melbourne to Wellington, than they are for the subsequent leg to Rio de Janeiro.

In a way, the shorter-haul race combines many of the aspects of the in-port race as well as the normal ocean race leg. The time is abbreviated, so every tactical decision carries great weight and the observance of weather patterns is as calculated as those of an OFFSHORE race. This leg, which will be about four to five days in length, is long enough that the crews of ABN AMRO ONE and TWO will have a normal watch system and maintain their normal level of caution and conservatism when making navigational decisions.

Getting ready
The navigators of TEAM ABN AMRO Simon Fisher and Stan Honey work day and night to prepare, with the help of the navigational consultant Mike Quilter [link to the story about him here] and weather team headed by Ken Campbell of Commandersweather.com.

For navigator Stan Honey of ABN AMRO ONE, getting ready is serious business. Every decision made has consequences hours and days down the road. And with a leg which may only be around four to five days long, each decision is key. There will be little time to make up for an error.

Learning from the frustrations of Leg 2
For the TEAM navigators, part of their in-port process is looking back at what did or didn’t work for them the last leg. For both navigators, this is their first Volvo Ocean Race, even though they have extensive offshore racing experience.

Honey said that high pressure ridges had a significant impact in Leg 2, and also might be a feature of Leg 3, particularly towards the end. "We got a ride on a trough early on in leg 2 which gave us a big lead, but we knew that we were going to eventually get lighter air than the boats behind us as we approached a ridge in front. We knew ahead of time that we would lose the big lead, but it was still frustrating as it happened. On the way to Eclipse Island we had to cross a very broad ridge that stretched clear across the course."

"We tried to stuff our way through it, but positioned ourselves to the west, so if we couldn’t get through the ridge we would get the new breeze soonest. It was frustrating to be 400 miles ahead, then only to be 20 ahead at Eclipse Island. You know it will happen, but it’s still frustrating."

Looking forward
Honey says that Leg 3 is located in a latitude where there are moving systems, "but the leg is short enough that we can make a good forecast for it. We will sail it like AN ocean race. Four days is a long enough leg, where if you’re not careful you can burn people out if we push too hard. There also isn’t enough time in Wellington to fix major broken items."

Honey says its a pleasure working with Si Fi on shore, although they have absolutely no communications whilst on the water as competitors. "Si Fi is doing a terrific job. It’s clear we think a lot alike, our routes are quite similar. A part of that is we work closely before the legs begin. So we start races with the same understanding of the issues and tactics and as a result have taken very similar courses. He’s doing a great job on the media stuff too! It’s great he’s become the people’s navigator."

Getting out of Melbourne
Once the boats get out of Port Philip Bay and the sea breezes, they will hit the Bass Strait currents and a post frontal southwesterly. Wellington is about just over three degrees further south in latitude than Melbourne,s o the course is nearly east across the Tasman sea.

"We are now busy modeling now. For a 20 day leg, for example, you can only analyse the first three or four days before your start. For a leg that is this short you have a reasonable idea what the weather will be like the whole leg."

The forecast on 12 February, according to the latest reports, will be about 20-25 knots of post frontal southwesterly outside of the bay, and 5-10 knots of northerly gradient breeze or a light southerly sea breeze in the bay.

The ice gates and the good sense of Volvo
"Ice gates worked out well in Leg 2", says Honey. "Nobody really wants to go running into ice on these boats. People appreciated what the race organisers did, and they did a nice job of choosing the locations of the ice gates. The current draft ice gates for leg 4 seem to be similarly well thought out."


© TEAM ABN AMRO www.abnamro.com/team


ABN AMRO ONE wins the Melbourne in-port race!

4 February 2006
After a grueling two hour and twenty minute in-port race in which the finish was up for grabs right up until the very end, ABN AMRO ONE pulled into first place victorious.

Technical sailing director Roy Heiner said "it was a great day for spectators to watch!" At every mark the boats semed to be in a different position as they battled for supremacy.

In second place came Pirates of the Caribbean, third was movistar and fourth was Ericsson Racing Team.

ABN AMRO TWO had a bad start in which they had to turn around and start again for shooting the gun, and never quite recovered their equilibrium. They came in sixth position overall.

Crew ONE sailor Mark Christensen, who was not onboard due to an arm injury from the start of the race, said "we outmaneuvered and outpositioned the others."

The consensus was the race was tough, tricky and exciting. It was a good day for the onboard tacticians, who had their mettle tested as much as the boats and sailors.

The major disappointment of the day was for Brasil 1, which overcame the odds to race at all after their rigging broke and had to be helped along by the shore crew of TEAM ABN AMRO. They had the best start of all the campaigns.

In-port race tactician Tomasso Chieffi onboard ABN AMRO ONE was pleased overall, although he said it was a dogfight the whole time.

"We learned in medium conditions, you have to play good tactics to start with like today, pushing crew too hard at times. We'll keep it clean. At the end we still won the race! We couldn't have been that bad!"

Sidney Gavignet was smiling ear to ear. "I was not surprised Brasil 1 was in the lead. They did a very good race. That was fun!"

Mike Sanderson echoed the sentiment when he said "that must have been a fun race to watch!"

ABN AMRO ONE now sports the yellow Race Leader and green In Port Race Winner flags.

Crew ONE also had a special guest on board, Australian America's Cup legend John Bertrand.

Tactician Andrew Lewis of crew TWO said "we were just lucky we got out of that start. It was tough!"

Second placed Paul Cayard said they had put in 1,000 hours into their boat in the last eight days, given its keel problems during Leg 2. "These are very complicated boats to sail."

Now the boats have the restart to prepare for 12 February when they head to Wellington, New Zealand.

The standings
The as-yet-unratified findings are as follows:
1.ABN AMRO ONE: 2 hr 28 min 12 sec
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: + 1 min 31 sec
3. Movistar: + 1 min 44 sec
4. Ericsson Racing Team: + 1 min 59 sec
5. Brasil 1: + 5 min 8 sec
6. ABN AMRO TWO: + 6 min 53 sec
7. Brunel: + 12 min 48 sec

ABN AMRO TEAM

© TEAM ABN AMRO | © Jon Nash - www.abnamro.com/team