Pirates Close By Snatching the Lead From ABN 2

The 2005-'06 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race draws to a close with a dramatic, close finish.

Pirates In Gothenburg

Volvo Ocean Race

In the closing 10 miles of the Volvo Ocean Race's ninth and final leg from Rotterdam to Gothenburg, Sweden, Paul Cayard's Pirates of the Caribbean slid past the young crew of ABN AMRO 2, which had led overnight, to finish first by 500 meters. It was a result with mixed feelings among the Black Pearl's crew, as they would have just as much enjoyed seeing the young crew of ABN 2 finally win a leg after the difficulties they've faced throughout the later stages of the race. But for Cayard, savoring the win was easy. "It's been a lot of fun winning this leg," says Cayard. "We've been on the podium 11 of 15 times-that's smart sailing, and that's how I like to sail. We had our down moments early on and no one quit. We toughed it up and put in a big effort." First into Gothenburg secured second overall for Cayard and crew, a result that's not surprising giving his history with the race, and his ability to take a late-start program and bring it up to speed. His approach to this campaign has been nothing short of textbook: preventative maintenance, methodical testing, and conservative sailing, all of which made Pirates the most consistent team on the water, even more so than ABN AMRO One, which won the race two legs ago. ABN Two's second earned them fourth overall for the race, a considerable accomplishment considering most onboard are first timers to the race. They still hold the 24-hour monohull distance record of 563 miles, which they set in the opening leg from Vigo, Spain to Cape Town. Their arrival in Gothenburg, however, was bittersweet. "A podium finish definitely helps," said George Peet, one of two Americans on the crew. "Second place to wrap up our first Volvo is pretty spectacular. But to be honest, we're crushed. Our goal at the beginning of this race was to win a leg, and we've come close four times. We're hungry to come back and have a crack at it again. It lived up to everything we expected, and Roy Heiner told us before that race that it would change our lives. I can't say how it has, but it has." After nearly 32,000 miles and nine months, the final standings were not far askew of early predictions of how this race would pan out, with the exception of Ericsson, a team that many had expected more from, but in the end it was ABN AMRO One's race. Had the Pirates had more time, perhaps the points gap would have been narrowed, and the same is true for Brasil 1, an incredible performance for a country new to the ocean racing game. The fourth-place standing of ABN Two, when it's all said and done, is also to be expected of a young green team, but given another go, it would be easy to see them finish higher. The fifth of Ericsson will leave them wondering what and where improvements could have been made earlier in the race. Movistar, the crew having long since put the race behind them after abandoning their yacht off the coast of England, would surely have impacted the outcome of the top three. Brunel was behind the pace from Day 1, but persevered in the spirit of the race, providing a select group of sailors the opportunity to give it a go at the sport's most vital offshore race. Perhaps, with Volvo's announcement yesterday, committing to another edition of the race in three years time, the boys of Brunel will have their chance to do more.