Mike Sanderson chats about the ups and downs of the first 24 hours of VOR Leg 5 4/4/06

Date4 April at 0046

Well it’s great to be back out here and racing on the good ship ABN AMRO ONE. Rio was a great stopover for us though, what an amazing reception that we got when we arrived when we won the leg and an even more exciting one again when everybody came out to watch the In-port race.

To be honest we didn’t expect great thing’s from the In-port race in Rio, but man what a day it turned on? without a doubt the best sailing day that we had for the whole three weeks that we where there, and it was a very nice feeling to win the race, I guess mainly due to all the dock talk about how our boat suffers in light airs, which is the case in 8 or 9 knots, but she is just fine the Black Betty once it is blowing 10 or 11 knots and we managed to lead from start to finish.

Yesterday for the leg start it was looking like it was going to be a total drifter, then by some divine intervention in between the 10 minutes and five minute gun a lovely 10 knots sea breeze came rolling down the harbour. Brasil 1 continued there over eagerness to please the local crowd and were over early, but apart from that everyone got away cleanly and started working there way upwind out towards the Volvo mark off Copacabana beach (just so we could get one last look…)

Unfortunately for us the equilite fitting on our jib lock failed and the sail came crashing to the deck, under Volvo rules you are only allowed to use designated jib halyards for hoisting jibs, so we had to go with our No.4 Solent jib on its separate headstay while Jan (Dekker) spliced a new strop onto the lock, but that was only after we had pulled him up the rig to retrieve it! So, not the greatest of first half hours of a race for the black boat.

Suddenly we found ourselves in last place by a good mile and had to set about catching up once around the Copacabana mark. The night was as tricky as we had discussed in all our pre-race strategy meetings, but we did have more breeze then expected, and for even one short burst through a black cloud we had the old girl doing 24 knots pointing straight for Fernando. I think everyone took their turn at leading at some stage through the hours of darkness, but as daylight broke it was nice that all our hard work had paid off and we had a couple of miles lead. With all the big black clouds to deal with during the day though, that was going to be pretty impossible to hold and in fact it during today we have been anywhere from 1st to 4th.

At one stage we had some amazing racing against the Pirates, the two boats surfing to 20 knots in only 14 knots of wind and us getting passed by them, only for us to re-pass them again, at times only a boat length away.

So it would be fair to say we are back into it, we are settling back into life on board well, everyone is fit and healthy and the boat is in great shape after all the good work by our shore crew. If today is anything to go by boat speeds seem very even in these conditions and so it looks like we are in for some very tight racing…