After a difficult first 24 hours ABN AMRO TWO finds the pace

13 February 2006: ABN AMRO TWO endured a gruelling first 24 hours at sea as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet makes the sprint across the Tasman Sea from Melbourne to Wellington. While ABN AMRO ONE skipper Mike Sanderson leads the fleet to his native New Zealand, the kids on ABN AMRO TWO encountered a number of frustrating setbacks. As Simon Fisher the navigator onboard concluded, “I think it would be fair to say that our first 24 hours at sea has been nothing short of horrendous.  Sometimes you feel you just can’t get a break.”


Bowman Gerd Jan Poortman suffered a nasty injury as he was swept down the boat by a powerful wave and sent crashing violently into the daggerboard. The Dutchman was left with head wounds and some heavy bruising. A being stitched up by onboard medic George Peet, Gerd Jan is resting until fully recovered. As Simon Fisher noted, “The force of the water is quite unbelievable. It is little surprise that Gerd Jan took a beating when just 30 minutes later the bow came out of a wave with the pulpit seriously bent.”


ABN AMRO TWO herself has been taking a beating too. A rip developed around the clew in her mainsail yesterday afternoon forcing Seb Josse to sail reefed, although Australian Luke Molloy was fortunately able to fix the damage. They also then lost all their power in the middle of the night. “We shook a bolt on the negative rail loose,” explains Fisher of what they found after they had broken out the torch.  


Despite all the problems, ABN AMRO TWO is starting to fight its way back into this leg and now lies ahead of Brasil 1 and Ericsson, chasing the leaders hard as they lie in fourth only four miles behind Pirates. As Simon Fisher concludes of the last 12 hours, “To be honest it has been pretty much plain sailing today – 20 knots of wind, downwind with nice waves so not too bad. Pirates have been next to us all day and Ericsson just behind so that has made for some very close racing and no doubt managed to squeeze out a little more performance from every one as you always work that little bit harder when the competition is in sight.” 


Mike Sanderson reports that all is well aboard ABN AMRO ONE, so far. “It was really just a matter of settling down into it and getting back to being used to roaring along at 30 knots of boats speed. Once we got into the swing of it again it was great. We came straight out of the heads and it suddenly built to 30 pretty quick and there were some pretty exciting waves outside of the heads. So it was game on, straight in it,” he says.


The fleet remains closely bunched which Sanderson recognises as great news for the race, “we are 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?”


The ETA into Wellington is still up for grabs the routing showing a finish as early as Wednesday morning. However most believe a Wednesday afternoon the most likely option.