The VO70s are off again for leg 6 of VOR and ABN AMRO ONE currently leads the pack 12/5/06

Yesterday, Thursday 11 May, H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf and H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden gave the VO70s a royal send off as leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06 got underway.

In light winds, the crews had to rein their boats in so as not to be pushed over the line early by the tide. American entry Pirates of the Caribbean skippered by American Paul Cayard, spurred on by the home crowd, was one of the first to cross the line followed by the Australian entry Brunel under the new leadership of Matt Humphries (GBR).

The building breeze quickly carried The Pirates off towards the turning mark at the Statue of Liberty, with Brunel, Neal McDonald’s (GBR) Ericsson and Brasil 1, skippered by five times Olympic medallist Torben Grael (BRA), in hot pursuit.

The light wind start gave the two ABN AMRO boats a disadvantage and as the four Farr designed boats moved quickly away from the line, both Mike Sanderson’s (NZ) ABN AMRO ONE and Sebastien Josse’s (FRA) ABN AMRO TWO, designed by Juan Koujoumdjian, were left behind.

As the Volvo Open 70s passed the turning mark, the order had not changed and Pirates of the Caribbean had a small 19 second lead over Brunel. The first four boats rounded within a minute of each other with ABN AMRO ONE turning more than two minutes later just in front of team mates ABN AMRO TWO.

As the fleet headed out towards Ambrose Light Tower, movistar skippered by Bouwe Bekking (NED) was flying to catch up on their two hour delay start; a penalty from the last leg when they had to fix their broken winch system. Movistar was quickly doing 16 knots off the start line and took just eight minutes to reach the turning mark.

Night racing

Around midnight last night, the fleet racing in leg seven of the Volvo Ocean Race all tacked onto starboard. Movistar (Bouwe Bekking) has been gaining on the pack and is now 17 miles to leeward of the fleet, due south of Narragansett Bay. The rest of the pack are separated laterally across the course by just three miles and just 17 miles separate first to last.

ABN AMRO ONE (Mike Sanderson/NZ) is back at the top, with Brasil 1 (Torben Grael/BRA) and Brunel (Matt Humphries/UK) in third place, pushing hard. Average speeds for the last six hours have been around 11 knots, but movistar now has more breeze in their northerly position.

Pirates of the Caribbean (Paul Cayard/USA) has had some problems with their instrument wand at the top of the mast, dropping them to fourth place. Justin Clougher climbed the rig on several occasions to fit replacements and he has now succeeded in fitting a reliable wand which is working properly and producing reliable information. In addition, they also got a small shark stuck on the rudder and had to stop and back down to remove it.

Smooth seas have been reported, but the latest weather reports are indicating that the wind will continue to increase during today, reaching 25 to 30 knots and shifting back to the left.

Current Leaderboard

1. ABN AMRO ONE, Mike Sanderson (NZL) 70.5 pts
2. Pirates of the Caribbean, Paul Cayard (USA) 47.5 pts
3. movistar, Bouwe Bekking (NED) 47 pts
4. Brasil 1, Torben Grael (BRA) 42.0 pts
5. ABN AMRO TWO, Sebastien Josse (FRA) 42.0 pts
6. Ericsson Racing Team, Neal McDonald (GBR) 34.5 pts
7. Brunel, Grant Wharington (AUS)/Matt Humphries (GBR) 2.5 pts