A second place on Leg 5 of the VOR means Bouwe Bekking's movistar team is now third in the overall rankings 19/4/06

Bouwe Bekking’s movistar team is now third in the overall rankings of the Volvo Ocean Race, which could increase to a second place should the ABN AMRO Two team finish the leg in last place.

Just after midnight yesterday (GMT 1) the Volvo Open 70 movistar crossed the finish line in Baltimore USA, officially ending her 5th leg race in this Round the World competition. The Spanish vessel gained 6 more points by coming second in this leg to winners ABN AMRO One who steamed into Baltimore just over four hours ahead of them.

Movistar took 15 days, 8 hours, 4 minutes and 15 seconds to cover the 5,000 miles that separate the two ports of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and Baltimore USA. Coupled with the lead at the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha the team has gained a healthy 9.5 points in this fifth leg, sweeping third place in the provisional overall rankings. However, the team still have a nail-biting wait to see how the ABN youngsters, ABN AMRO Two fare as they finish the leg. Should they come in behind the rest of the Volvo Open 70 fleet, Movistar will move up into 2nd place in the rankings.

“I’m very happy”, confessed Captain Bouwe Bekking as he arrived in Baltimore. “Second place is a good result for us, especially since we’ve finished in front of Pirates of the Caribbean. Now we just have to wait and see how ‘the kids’ do, because if they finish in the position they’re holding at the moment (last place) then we can take second place in the overall rankings, which would be fantastic! We mustn’t forget that when we set out on this leg we were only in fourth place.

“The boat held up in great shape in this leg. We were very happy with it, as it has shown itself to be very fast with light wind, competitive in medium winds and then very fast again in strong winds.”

Pepe Ribes, Bowman on the Spanish boat commented on the keys to their success in this leg. “The boat’s speed has been very good, especially compared with the other Farr designs here. Our start in Rio was decent until we caught something with the keel and we had to stop. Then we were caught in a shower and the others seemed to get away. The key in this leg has been our positioning, and Andrew Cape, or ‘Capey’ as he is known onboard, has known exactly where to take us throughout the leg. This was crucial on the second night when we gained a lot of miles and managed to overtake the rest of the fleet. We sailed well in the rain showers, mainly because, except for the first day, we’ve managed to avoid them. This leg has been tough in terms of the number of sail changes. So you can get an idea of what I mean, today, for example, we have had six changes in six hours. That can take a lot out of you!”

Fernando Echavarri ended his first ocean leg on Movistar and his excitement was clearly evident. “This has been an absolutely fantastic experience. It’s actually quite difficult for me to put into words you have to live it to know. I think I was lucky because it wasn’t a very gruelling leg, but I think the next ones might be. I most enjoyed sailing with lots of breeze because the boat goes really fast and it’s a real thrill. I was most shocked by the night sailing, where we’d be doing 30 knots without seeing a single thing. What did I like the least about all this well I’d have to say the food. If you don’t get to eat well and comfortably it really shows physically. I have lost 5 kilos in just two weeks. The noise inside the boat is also tough to deal with, and really you sleep when you are almost on your last legs.

“Except for the initiation ceremony as I crossed the Equator for the first time, the relationship with other crew members has been great, and a real revelation. They really are excellent and incredibly professional sailors. They don’t lose their cool at any moment, and that’s really important, especially in a race like this. The first thing I’m going to do now is get myself a good shower, because I suspect I might be in need of one!”