Mike Sanderson and crew including Dee Caffari win sixth VOR In Port race 29/5/06

Just two days after his wedding to Emma Richards, Mike Sanderson and his crew aboard ABN AMRO 1 have won the Volvo Ocean Race In port race at Portsmouth making this the team’s fourth In Port race win.

Sanderson and team who clinched the overall VOR title last Sunday by winning Leg 7 of the race decided that, despite the VOR overall victory with two legs still to go, they would to continue to race and complete the series which includes today’s In Port race.

In contrast to last weekend’s bone-shaking weather for the finish of Leg 7 which not only resulted in numerous amounts of gear failure but forced team movistar to abandon ship with serious ongoing keel problems, competing teams were today able to enjoy a relatively quiet start for their windward/leeward race set in the vicinity of Nab Tower.

With just over a three-mile beat in a 15-18 knt north-westerly breeze towards Bembridge Ledge, conditions couldn’t have been better but it didn’t take too much to work out that the big black clouds on the horizon were sooner or later going to cause havoc among the fleet.

Interestingly it was Paul Cayard and his Pirates of the Caribbean team including local man Jules Slater navigating, who looked to have initially taken the wrong side of the first beat, but in the closing stages their tactics paid off and they took a storming lead (six to eight boatlengths) at the first windward mark with those, including the two ABN AMRO boats who went right, losing out.

Pirates of the Caribbean continued to build on their seemingly unassailable lead but disaster struck on the third downwind leg. A massive squall threatening since the beginning, hit the fleet wrecking two spinnakers on one leg – those of Ericsson and Pirates of the Caribbean.

With a smaller spinnaker hoisted and wind dropping off after the squall, the Pirates’ situation looked grim but together with ABN AMRO One they continued to enjoy an incredible close race. The two were neck and neck coming up the last beat and with another massive windshift it was all about tactics in the closing stages.

ABN AMRO One, with Dee Caffari on board as guest, rounded the final weather mark ahead of the Pirates and benefited from the building pressure down the final run. Then just when they thought they were all nearly home and dry another interesting weather situation developed and although the leading two were far enough ahead not to be significantly affected, the likes of Brasil 1 lying in third sailed into a wind hole leaving ABN AMRO Two in fourth and Ericsson fifth, to monopolise on the situation by going low keeping in the wind band.

So after two and quarter hours, ABN AMRO One sailed across the finish line to win their fourth in-port race win out of six races. Pirates of the Caribbean followed, finishing second overall, with Brasil 1 taking the final podium position.

With ABN AMRO One already having won the event this means Pirates of the Caribbean remains in second and Brasil 1 moves up to third place overall.

In-Port Race Results
1st ABN AMRO ONE, 02hrs 14 mins 16 secs
2nd Pirates of the Caribbean, 02 hrs 18 mins 30 secs
3rd Brasil 1, 02 hrs 22 mins 00 secs
4th ABN AMRO TWO, 02 hrs 24 mins 56 secs
5th Ericsson Racing Team, 02 hrs 26 mins 55 secs
6th Brunel , 02 hrs 27 mins 44 secs

Current Leaderboard (points not ratified)
1st ABN AMRO ONE, Mike Sanderson (NZL) 84.5 pts
2nd Pirates of the Caribbean, Paul Cayard (USA) 59.5 pts
3rd Brasil 1, Torben Grael (BRA) 52.0 pts
4th ABN AMRO TWO, Sebastien Josse (FRA) 48.5 pts
5th movistar, Bouwe Bekking (NED) 48.0 pts
6th Ericsson Racing Team, Neal McDonald (GBR) 45.0 pts
7th Brunel, Grant Wharington (AUS) 8.0 pts