British skipper Neal McDonald and his crew onboard the Swedish entry Ericsson Racing Team have won the inaugural Volvo Ocean Race In-Port race

British skipper Neal McDonald and his crew onboard the Swedish entry Ericsson Racing Team have won the inaugural Volvo Ocean Race In-Port race held in Sanxenxo, Galicia, Spain yesterday.

Ericsson Racing Team will now start leg one, the first of the offshore legs, 6,400 nautical miles to Cape Town, South Africa, next Saturday with 3.5 points already on the table.

Leading the fleet up the first leg of the 14.4 nautical mile course and extending it throughout the race to win by just over two minutes, McDonald and his team of experts never looked threatened. Tim Powell (UK) at the helm and the crew handling the boat and its huge sails in a skilled way that one would expect from this talented team. Swedish supporter, Race Patron HRH Prince Carl Philip, was onboard for the victory.

“I feel very relieved,” said McDonald after stepping ashore. “It is nice to know that we have got good boat speed and are clearly one of the fastest boats in those conditions. It is a really nice start to win the race and certainly a great way to start the regatta. John (Kostecki – tactician) really put us in the right place and that made all the difference to the race.”

The battle for second and third place was closely fought throughout the two-hour race. His Majesty King Juan Carlos I, the King of Spain, enjoyed some tight manoeuvres onboard local boat, movistar, but the Brasil 1 team, with its crew of Olympic medallists, was able to hold onto to their narrow lead, to finish in second place.

Skipper, Torben Grael said: “We are very happy with the boat and it is a great boost for our campaign. We didn’t get a great start, but we felt very good with our speed and this is how we made up the ground we lost at the start. I am really pleased that we have a very motivated team and we had some very good racing, it really was a great way to start the race.”

The pirates onboard The Black Pearl, were joined today by the Infanta Doña Cristina of Spain. The team put up a good fight all the way round the track and finally rolled past movistar on the last leg with some superior boat handling. As the last team to launch their boat, the ‘pirates’ have accepted that they will have some catching up to do in the first few legs of the event.

Perhaps the surprise of the day was Team ABN AMRO whose team of hotshots
onboard ABN AMRO ONE must now be bitterly disappointed by not only
finishing in sixth position, but crossing the line behind their team mates, the inexperienced young crew led by Frenchman Sebastien Josse. No doubt both skippers will be hoping never to meet these sorts of light air conditions again in the next nine months.

The day dawned bright and fair for the first time in weeks in the seaside resort of Sanxenxo today, leaving the sea glassy but the sky blue. The Volvo Open 70s racing together for the first time as a fleet were left milling around as the race committee postponed the race as they waited for more wind to fill in.

The racing finally got underway at just after 1500 local time. Spectators, afloat in anything they could find, invaded the racetrack giving marshals a headache as they attempted to clear the course ready for racing. Starting the inshore race in light south-westerly breeze, the race committee made the decision to shorten course in a dying breeze after two hours of racing.

Scoreboard after In-Port Race Sanxenxo

1. Ericsson Racing Team elapsed time 01:51:29 (3.5 points)

2. Brasil 1 01:54:55 (3 points)

3. Pirates of the Caribbean 01:56:30 (2.5 points)

4. movistar 01:57:13(2 points)

5. ABN AMRO TWO 02:00:07 (1.5 points)

6. ABN AMRO ONE 02:04:11 (1 points)

7. Premier Challenge DNC (0 points)