All seven contenders for this year's Volvo Ocean Race are now on the water in preparation for the 5 November start

All seven contenders for this year’s Volvo Ocean Race are now on the water in preparation for the 5 November start in Sanxenxo, Galicia.

The two boats from the ABN AMRO stable are established in Sanxenxo where they are training against each other.

Movistar is also in Sanxenxo, which is her home port, and has had a big refit including a new mast, keel and bulb. These are major changes for a boat, especially one like this, which is so sensitive to the slightest change. The idea is to enhance the weight distribution and improve performance.

“These changes are a significant step forward in the boat’s development,” said skipper Bouwe Bekking. “They also mean that we have to re-calibrate many of the boat’s parameters. It is not just a question of putting in a new mast and bulb and carry on sailing. We now have to learn how to get the best out of these changes.”

Ericsson is now at her home base of Vigo and the team has just announced that 2001-02 winner, John Kostecki, will join the team as inshore tactician.

Lady Gabriella Windsor christened The Black Pearl in Southampton and Paul Cayard’s Pirates of the Caribbean team are now on their way to Spain heading for their base at Baiona, expecting to arrive around 18-19 September.

Brasil 1 has arrived in Cascais in Portugal sailing after 20 days of sailing across the Atlantic. The crossing was a success under difficult conditions and the crew experienced minimal problems.

Premier Challenge, Australia’s only entrant into the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06 will sail their all-Australian Volvo Open 70 racer out of Port Philip heads and on to New Zealand tomorrow, where it will meet a ship bound for the start line in Vigo, Spain in November 2005 and complete its qualifying passage for the race at the same time.

“We got our new mast in yesterday and the boat looks absolutely fantastic,” enthused Grant Wharington, head of the syndicate and skipper of the yacht.