Sailing - Volvo Ocean Race: Sunergy joins the party as McDonald leads fleet to sea
Sunday 13 November 2005
Not just full foul-weather gear but masks of the kind used by luge tobogannists were ready yesterday for the crews of 10 on the seven yachts facing the first night of this round the world race.
The ride to the equator is going to be a quick one with winds of 30 to 40 knots predicted for the first night. That means high boat speeds and high-speed spray as they surf over cresting waves and plough into the troughs below.
Just six of the seven boats sat on the specially constructed pontoons in front of the Estacion Maritima, viewed by thousands of spectators, waiting for the first cannonball run of nine legs and seven inshore races that will take them 31,250 miles round the planet before finishing in Gothenberg next June.
The seventh was joining from the resort of Sanxenxo, where all the final preparations were made. The Australian entry, renamed after its Dutch sponsor, Brunel Sunergy, just 24 hours earlier, was not given its certificate of race-worthiness until less than 12 hours before the start, 02.30am to be precise.
Given the stunning performance of these new Open 70 yachts, there is a fine line between bravery and foolhardiness. Taking a boat that has been ripped apart and rebuilt in the last few days without a new crew, including two last-minute replacements for British-based Guy Salter and Mark Thomas, having any chance of checking everything, will see that line fully tested.
Skipper Grant Wharington may find discretion is only part of valour, though from certain aspects it appeared about as sticky as a brick in treacle.
While the bookies have as their joint-favourites the New Zealander Mike Sanderson, on ABN Amro 1, and the Dutchman Bouwe Bekking, at the helm of home-town favourites movistar, the real form is unknown.
Sanderson was again struggling in light wind, which only began to strengthen further out of the bay towards the Atlantic.
It was Britain's Neal McDonald, skippering Ericsson, who led the standings having already banked 3.5 points as winner of an inshore race last weekend. It gave him bragging rights for a week and he lined up a second dose, rounding the top mark first and leading out to sea.
With widespread expectations that the current world record, held by movistar, of 530 miles in 24 hours will be threatened as soon as fleet moves far enough offshore to hook into a strong airflow swinging from the north-west into the north-east, some lessons will be learned about who has developed the fastest sails and can best handle their boats.
Ellen MacArthur picked up 10 miles to close the gap between her and the leader, Jean le Cam, to just 20 miles at the half-way point of the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre from Le Havre to Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. Mike Golding in fourth with a damaged starboard rudder has slipped to 150 miles behind, 20 behind third-placed Jean le Cam.
Latest in Sport
Sky Sports and BT Sport announce Premier League live matches for 2015/16 with Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in action
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
Copa America 2015: When does it start, what channel is it on and who should I support?
Chelsea 2015/16 home shirt leaked again as new picture appears online
Wimbledon 2015: 'Heather Watson deserved to win the match,' concedes world No 1 Serena Williams after gruelling contest
- 1 Michelle Watt's father says TV presenter killed herself because she was in constant pain
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 San Francisco TV news crew attacked by armed robbers during live broadcast
- 4 Greek debt crisis: The photograph that conveys the despair of Greece's elderly
- 5 Miami defendant sobs in court as he realises he and the judge attended the same school
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...
£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...