Monday, June 19, 2006

Final Scores


For the last half of the race there has been little doubt as to the overall winner. With a crack team, able manager as skipper and Black Betty's magic ABN1 has shown how the VO70 class should be built and sailed. The routing has been only near perfect - a couple of times (legs 4 and 7 spring to mind) they have made sudden lurches to the south, going from first to last between two scheds. But with the boat speed to rely upon in both cases they were back in pole position in a few days or even hours.

ABN1 has shown what the next Volvo should be all about and proved the many critics of the VO70 wrong. It is not the class that is wrong, but the steep learning curve. Maybe the smartest thing Mike Sanderson did all the way round was to throttle back, to avoid the breakages that cursed so many other teams.

Ok, with Moose getting married during the Portsmouth stop-over maybe the second smartest thing. Hopefully the end of the Volvo will mean Emma will finally get in touch with Captain JP.


What can be said that hasn't been said before? This team has known triumph and tragedy on its way around the world. So lets remember the good things - the world speed record of 563 miles in 24 hours, the way they pushed hard their big brother ABN2, and the great seamanship shown in recovering Hans and rescuing the crew of Movistar. Kids no more, the men on ABN2 did good.

Brasil - 6 / 10

Its great to see more nations getting involved in the Volvo, especially from young dynamic countries like Brazil with links to the race via the stop-overs in wild and wonderful Rio. There's less to say about them than other boats - though that is a credit to their professionalism rather than a criticism. They gave a solid mid-pack performance than can be built on in future races, and after their dismasting on Leg 2 a great nick-name - "Brasilia, queen of the desert".

Brunel - 4 / 10

This was always an odd entry. It changed its name a couple of times, lost its points, stopped racing, started again, and so was only a part time member of the Volvo fleet. It was also an odd design - on the dock side at Portsmouth it looked like it didn't fit in with the sleek Farrs let alone the powerful ABN twins. But with a reduced fleet it was good they were there towards the end after Movistar sank, even if they did miss the mark coming into Rotterdam (oops!).

Ericsson - 5 / 10

So what went wrong? With the experience of Neal McDonald and a boat from the same team that built Pirates this team should have been a contender. But from the first in-port race it was downhill all the way. For a while the underlying failures were masked by keel breakages, but by leg 4 it was clear there was a major speed problem, and worse, a major morale problem. Maybe nice guy Neil wasn't the right guy to sort out physical confrontations involving winch handles. Or maybe there was nothing anyone could do - the boat was just slow. I can't see any major tactical errors - the boat was usually around the leaders pack. But when ever there was a drag race Ericsson began to lag behind.

I hear that Ericsson is seriously thinking about a team for the next Volvo: that would be great, but there's a post mortem to do to learn the lessons from this one.

Movistar - 8 / 10

These guys should be on the podium at at Gothenburg. They had a great team, experienced skipper, fast boat, and lots of preparation time. They were the only boat to consistently push hard at ABN1 for the lead, pipping them at the Wellington post. But they were let down by a shore crew that never fixed the boat, let them sail into Southern oceans and Atlantic storms in a yacht that wasn't safe, that nearly sank off Cape Horn and finally was abandoned in the Western Approaches. Kudos for saving the boat the first time, and more kudos for just afterwards letting the cameras in for a frank exchange of views, and hope its better luck next time.

Pirates 8 / 10

Who can not have enjoyed watching Pirates of the Caribbean sail around the world. With a character like Paul Cayard on board, the scull and cross-bones on the sails, and a major sponsor behind them this was always going to be a boat to watch. After the disastrous first night of the first leg they pulled themselves together and by Rio were well in the grove, finally picking up their first leg win and overall second place by the finish. But if Movistar were still afloat would they be third not second?

Edit: gave Ericsson an extra point as they were better than Brunel.

Photos from:


Tillerman said...

But are you going to buy a Volvo car because of the race? Are you going to become a customer of ABN AMRO because of their win? Is anyone? If not, what's the point?

JP said...

I think that for three groups there was a point:

1. The sponsors. While on business in Brussels I noticed I not only recognised the ABN AMRO sign but also had positive associations with it. Its similar for formular 1 sponsorship - see the Volvo web sites assessment at:

2. The sailors. They got the funding to pay for the most advanced offshore racing yachts, the support teams, and not least their saleries to allow them to sail in the premier offshore yacht race.

3. The spectators. They got to follow the leading professionals and their adventures as they sailed round the world - and for free.

Sounds like a good deal for all.