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ABN Amro One arriving in Melbourne

Volvo Ocean Race • Leg 2

Hat trick for Sanderson in Melbourne

ABN Amro One wins leg two in Australia and leads the race with 29 points

samedi 21 janvier 2006Redaction SSS [Source RP]

After 18 days, 22 hours, 8 minutes and 40 seconds at sea, Mike Sanderson (NZ) and his exhausted crew on the black Dutch boat, ABN AMRO ONE, made it a hat trick today by winning three stages of the Volvo Ocean Race in a row ; leg one, the Cape Town in-port race and leg two from Cape Town to Melbourne, Australia.

ABN Amro One arriving in Melbourne

After passing through Port Phillip Heads, ABN AMRO ONE crossed the finish line off Williamstown, Melbourne, to complete the 6,400 nautical mile leg at 09.08.40 GMT (20.08.40 local time) and now leads the Volvo Ocean Race with 29 points, five points clear of Sebastien Josse (FR) with ABN AMRO TWO, provided they maintain their second position on this leg.

Sanderson, clearly relieved at completing this, the first three of the challenging southern ocean legs in the event, said,

“I am really relieved. It has been a very stressful last 18 hours, but that is nothing compared with the leg as a whole. I have never known anything like it.

“The guys have done an amazing job and I am so happy for the whole team. An ABN AMRO first and second is huge. It was huge on the first leg and even more so on this one, considering the toughness of the leg.

“I have enjoyed being in Melbourne already - just crossing the finish line was a huge relief and I am so pleased that we are here in one piece.

“I am over the moon. We have worked bloody hard for this and we are all just stoked.”

As ABN AMRO ONE makes her way up the Yarra River, to perform a limbo under the Bolte Bridge before arriving at the Waterfront City Race Village, Docklands, Melbourne’s newest waterside location, huge crowds have gathered to watch her progress live from two massive super-screens. The arrival ceremony will be followed by a spectacular fireworks display. Today is the official day of opening of the Waterfront Race Village, which also includes the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival featuring famous British Chef, Rick Stein.

ABN AMRO ONE took the lead on day four, January 5, racing south as the wind increased to 28 knots, just the conditions this boat revels in. Sanderson reported speeds of 27 knots as the boat tore downwind with the crew trying throttle back and keep the boat in one piece. “I am very conscious of this leg, as I promised the boys and myself that we would tone it back,” wrote Sanderson.

On day 9, January 10, ABN AMRO ONE arrived at the first scoring gate on this leg, set at the Kerguelen Islands and claimed the first set of points on offer, adding 3.5 to their growing tally. The crew then turned her bows away from the second scoring gate at Eclipse Island in order to head back south again in search of strong breeze.

As they streaked away on edge of a cold front, Sanderson was sick with worry, “I know this could be the windiest night of the leg and we are doing a lot to throttle back. It’s like thinking you’re safe on your bike without brakes because there are no hills, and then you turn a corner in the middle of a pitch black night and remember you live in San Francisco.” The onboard sewing machine was put to good use when they blew to pieces their big spinnaker, but it was only a few hours before the sail was back in the air, almost as good as new.

On the approach to the second scoring gate at Eclipse Island, 1.5 miles off Albany on the south western tip of Australia, ABN AMRO ONE became caught in a high pressure ridge and the crew watched dismally as their margin rapidly disappeared and the chasing pack rode up fast behind them on the old weather system.

By day 13, January 14, Sanderson’s buffer was just 57 nautical miles as he carefully picked his way through the ridge of high pressure. “We think we have picked the best spot to go through,” he explained and added, “I have always had this feeling, even when the lead was at its biggest, that we would be seeing these other guys [ABN AMRO TWO and movistar] again before reaching Eclipse... I hope I am wrong.”

Sanderson’s worst fears were realised when on day 14, ABN AMRO TWO overtook the black boat briefly and the leading three boats were separated by only 26 miles.

ABN AMRO ONE regained the lead, just in time to round the second scoring gate in first place, with ABN AMRO TWO hot on their heels, and set off to windward on the long beat to the finish, 1300 miles away. “What a relief,” wrote Sanderson. “I am not sure how many more of those big losses my nerves could take. To have gone from 390 nautical miles ahead to seven miles behind, slowly and painfully, has been one of my toughest times in a Volvo race.”

The black boat continued to pull away steadily from the opposition. Although the final hours of almost no wind were a frustrating and nail-biting time for the crew, they finally crossed the finish line at 09:08:40 after 18 days, 22 hours, 8 minutes and 40 seconds at sea.

At the time of finishing, ABN AMRO TWO was 31 nautical miles behind ABN AMRO TWO with an average speed of 8.4 knots. Her estimated time of arrival is 1315 GMT today. Movistar (Bouwe Bekking) is expected tonight at around 1922, provided she is able to maintain her current speed of 8 knots.

• Ranking in Melbourne

- 1 ABN Amro One - Mike Sanderson arrived on 21/01/06 at 09:08:40 after 018d 22h 08m 40s

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