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Albatross Territory

Along with the cold weather sweeping over the Volvo Ocean Race fleet, as they edge closer to the finish line in Cape Town, came the first spotting of an albatross. The leading four boats in the Volvo Ocean Race are now deep into Albatross territory. Each boat in the race has been provided with a laminate card by the Save the Albatross Campaign with pictures of the different breeds of albatross and their descriptions.

“It is a pretty awesome sight at first, soaring across the waves. It is impressive how big these birds are, not to mention how far they can fly in one hit, “wrote Simon Fisher from second placed ABN AMRO TWO (Sebastien Josse), adding, “Makes our race pale into insignificance really, when you think that an albatross will fly the whole way round the Southern Ocean just to find food.”

The crew onboard Ericsson (Neal McDonald), who are nursing their injured boat, have had time to get the camera out and film some birds. Jason Carrington, the team’s resident boat builder, reported today on the bird life around them.

“We have seen a few albatrosses. That is part of the cool bit of sailing, you see some pretty neat things and albatrosses are maybe the coolest as they are huge. We were just reading our chart and it tells us that they can be 3.5 metres across in wing span. They are very impressive; they just swoop by the boat.“

Adrienne Cahalan, navigator on third placed Brasil 1 (Torben Grael) said yesterday, “This is my fifth time sailing through the South Atlantic and Southern Ocean and I have seen fewer Albatross than any other time since 1993.”

The Volvo Ocean Race is working closely with the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and their global partners, BirdLife International, to raise awareness of the plight of the albatross. 60,000 of these magnificent birds will die as a result of long line fishing throughout the course of the Volvo Ocean Race and surveys indicate that 19 of the species are in danger of extinction. Adrienne urges everyone to “please join the fight to save this precious bird and in doing do maintain the balance of the oceans which is so important to human life itself.”

As ABN AMRO ONE (Mike Sanderson) and ABN AMRO TWO (Sebastien Josse) run through the 500 nautical miles barrier conversations are returning to more land based topics. Simon Fisher (ABN AMRO TWO) explained exactly, what are on the young minds of his team mates, apart from the awe-inspiring albatrosses.

“Much of the conversation on board is now about what is coming up in Cape Town, a cold beer, a shave, a shower, night clubs, parties, girls…. Every topic has been extensively covered from a variety of angles as we near the finish!”

At 1600 GMT today Brasil 1 is 100 nautical miles behind second place ABN AMRO TWO but are currently sailing slightly faster and are have reduced the gap by 13 nautical miles in the past 24 hours. But it doesn’t look hopeful that the Brazilians will be able to catch them by Cape Town, as the breeze is predicted to stay strong and will bring them steadily into the coast and Table Bay.

We have little over 24 hours worth of racing for the first four yachts, in leg one of the Volvo Ocean Race. All the crews’ family and friends are gathered for their arrival and the inevitable parties. The highs and lows, thrills and spills will be retold to hundreds of family, friends and total strangers in Cape Town, in the coming weeks. But as we know this is a close race in extreme conditions, so anything could happen in the final day of this leg.

An update on movistar (Bouwe Bekking) came in yesterday with the official news that the boat will be retiring from leg one. Pedro Campos, movistar’s General Manager clarified the situation last night. “We have assessed the pros and cons of the situation and the final decision has been really difficult to make. The team has decided to send movistar directly on a cargo ship, to Cape Town this weekend.

“The team is going to Cape Town on the 4th December to continue with our preparations. The boat will take two weeks to reach Cape Town, during this time we are going to continue to train. The crew has sailed really well during the first leg. We were in first place and I’m really happy with the performance of the boat and sails.“

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 30th, 2005 at 2:51 pm and is filed under Main Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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