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Volvo Ocean Race Leg Three Report
Melbourne to New Zealand

Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2006

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As a busy day of passionate racing comes to an end for the fleet in the Tasman Sea, the sailors in the Volvo Ocean Race haven’t forgotten their loved ones ashore. With only 360 nautical miles to the finish, every team is working hard on predicting the weather pattern for the potentially long sprint through Cook Strait separating the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

Jennifer Lilly, the Assistant Race Meteorologist predicts the fleet will bunch up again before the finish in Wellington, currently expected in the early hours of Thursday morning local time. Once in Cook Strait the weather will be determined by local conditions. The wind will veer to a northwesterly breeze as it flows into the Strait and may come up against the southeasterly winds blowing around Wellington. Jennifer adds, “These two opposing breezes will collide somewhere in the vicinity of Cape Jackson at the middle of Cook Strait and some 40 miles from the finish. This will result in variable conditions before the boats can break through to the lighter southeasterly breezes expected outside Wellington harbour in the closing miles of the leg.”

In addition the navigators need to be aware of the complicated tidal currents and very localized wind features, as they make their way through to Wellington. Andrew Cape, navigator onboard movistar (Bouwe Bekking) spoke today of the team clawing their way back at ABN AMRO ONE (Mike Sanderson) before the finish. “There are a lot of tricks to come with the top of the South Island in Cook Strait and the finish in Wellington harbour so I wouldn’t bet on anything. There could be a mix up; we’ll see how it goes. We are confident that we can hang on and make better.”

“The boat is holding up really well. We haven’t had to hold back at all, we’ve been able to let her rip. We are pushing as hard as we can. As this is a short leg if we break anything now we can fix it later (in Wellington). But we haven’t had any problems with any of the gear or the sails, it’s all been good.”

ABN AMRO ONE has extended it’s lead slowly over all the fleet except Ericsson (Neal McDonald) who is bringing up the rear. Mike Sanderson also thinks the boats will bunch up as the winds go light but, as the race leader, he has a lot more to lose. “Unfortunately once again with the fleet not far behind us it is going to be anyone's race into Wellington. I know that my mate Stu Ballantyne on movistar, who is a good local Wellington boy, will be doing everything possible to beat the five Kiwis on ABN AMRO ONE into their home stop over. Fingers crossed for Black Betty. Anyway, we need too get in quickly! Brad Jackson’s (AKA Skunk) feet stink.

On the race track during the past 24 hours the positions have stayed the same bar Brasil 1 (Torben Grael) leapfrogging ABN AMRO TWO (Sebastien Josse). The Brazilians were 10 nautical miles behind at 0400 GMT but by the 1000 GMT position report they had passed and are now exactly 10 miles ahead of the young guns.

Due to the steep short waves in the Tasman Sea, the Volvo 70’s are ploughing into them sending vast amounts of water over the bow making life very hard for the bowmen of the race. Movistar’s bowmen Pepe Ribes and Noel Drennan have both been bruised joining ABN AMRO TWO’s Gerd Jan Poortman and now Andy Meiklejohn of Brasil 1.

Brasil 1’s skipper Torben Grael has also been in the firing line, being knocked sideways whist helming he injured his thumb. Other than this the crew on the Brazilian boat are very positive, “Our conditions here are very wet but so far everything is well with Brasil 1. The good part about facing these giant waves is that is has given us back a lot of confidence in the structural part of the boat.”

On a more personal note, despite the swashbuckling Pirates onboard The Black Pearl (Paul Cayard) losing out on movistar in the past day, they still took time out to remember the Pirate ladies waiting for their arrival in the pit stop. Pirate Captain Paul sent this message out, “First of all, Happy Valentines Day from all the Pirates to all their Sweethearts! We got your cards today. Nice job organizing that ladies! We are thinking of you too!” Proving Pirates are romantic too.



We have been on starboard tack with the big spinnaker up for the past 24
hours which has made for some smooth and quick sailing. The wind speed
has been between 20-30 knots for the past 8 hours.

We have a wind more to the west than we expected from our weather so we
have had to gybe onto port just about an hour ago. This will let some
pressure off Movistar but it is the right thing to do relative to the fleet.

We won’t be on this tack long as we expect the wind to come back in from the
SSW tonight. This little gybe will give us a good angle to Cape Farewell,
which is the northwest tip of the South Island of New Zealand.

While this wind direction and subsequent gybe will let the pressure off
Movistar, we have made nice gains on Brasil and Ericsson today and this
will let us consolidate.

Gybing in 27-30 knots is not a piece of cake with these boats so I was
happy when we completed the first one without incident and now I am
thinking about the one we will have to do in about 1.5 hours. Gybing involves
first moving about 1.5 tones of sails and food and gear, some of it on
centerline, some of it to leeward so it is to windward after the maneuver.

When you go into the gybe, it is more difficult to keep your speed up because you
have lost a lot of your righting moment. However, the alternative, leaving
all the sails and gear stacked on the old windward side would be really bad
if you broached in the gybe and all the gear ended up in the water. There
would be a lot of damage and you would probably loose the sails and all
the lifelines. So hopefully, we will have a nice little light spot when it is
time to pull off the next one.

ABN AMRO 1 is just plain faster than the rest of us in these conditions.
It has seemed that they had an edge for the past 24 hours but it was very
apparent as they just sailed right by Movistar to take the lead and kept
on going. Nice to have speed. It makes everything else easier..not
finished,just easier.

We have 485 miles to Cape Farewell and then another 125 after that. We
expect the wind to hold up pretty good tonight and tomorrow so we should
be going around Cape Farwell before sunset tomorrow. Then into Cook Strait.
Not sure yet what we will have there but it doesn't look like the 40-50
knots that were forecast when we started the leg so that is good.

Going to put some water on for dinner and then get the latest weather at
0600 GMT. We will probably gybe shortly after confirming the latest

Have a nice day, especially all you Pirates ladies! And I mean all of
them; the ones in Burbank, the ones in the Bahamas filming Dead Man's Chest,
all the Disney ladies all over the world, and all the ladies who work for all
of our great partners. And even if I did not mention you, and you support
some other team, I hope you have a great Valentines Day!

Paul Cayard - Skipper


Ohh yes.. We are in the Tasman; my first offshore trip was across the
Tasman. It was on a delivery of a 45 foot race yacht to Sydney, I was 19
years old and a pretty green dinghy sailor at the time. The one thing
that I often remembered about that trip was being disappointed at how
shifty it was and also how short and steep the waves are when sailing
offshore, but now after all the miles I have done I now realise that is
just what it's often like in the Tasman sea.....

Running downwind in short steep waves doesn't suit our boat. We have a
big powerful transom which gives us our good reaching speed, but it means
downwind if the waves are steep, we can be a little bow down into them.
This has meant that often the boat goes roaring down a wave and then plows
straight into the back of the wave in front, shovelling tons of water over
the boat at once, as well as putting a lot of load on the gear. All in
all not ideal and pretty extreme sailing conditions, but that is a price
that we knew we where going to pay for an edge power reaching, and so far
in the first two legs, it has seemed pretty good. Just hope we can hang
on to the pace in the next leg to Rio when we could get a lot of hard
running, if the waves are their normal long and flowing Southern Ocean
waves then we will be just fine, as I say too much, "time will tell".

Been a tough day in the office here today for Stan (Honey) and I.
Basically the wind isn't doing what the forecasts keep telling us they
should, that makes it pretty tough for us to come up with a solid game
plan, as we have to try and work out why it's not doing what they think it
should be in the Met offices around the World.

But Stan is the man, and he has been working tirelessly at trying to come
up with a solution. We think we have nailed it, but will only be able to
confirm that if we can get to the top of the South Island of New Zealand

The last 100 miles into Wellington is looking really tricky, with very
light airs forecast in Cook Strait. Unfortunately once again, with the
fleet not far behind us it is going to be anyone's race into Wellington. I
know that my mate Stu Ballantyne on movistar, who is a good local
Wellington boy, will be doing everything possible to beat the five Kiwis
on ABN AMRO ONE into their home stop over.

Fingers crossed for Black Betty. Anyway, we need too get in quickly !!!
Brad Jackson's ( AKA Skunk's) feet stink..
Talk soon
Mike Sanderson - skipper

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