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Historic road trip for Brasil 1

by Volvo Ocean Race media 27 Jan 2006 15:02 GMT

Brasil 1 begun her historic road trip and race against time today as she began the epic journey that will take her 4000km across Australia from Fremantle to the Volvo Ocean Race Village in Waterfront City, Melbourne.

It will take approximately five days to drive the boat across Australia. The drive is a pretty desolate one as the route takes Brasil 1 across the aptly named Nullabor Plain, meaning ‘no trees’, through Ceduna and Port Augusta, across Murray Bridge and onto the South Australian/Victoria border to Melbourne. The boat will travel along the Eyre Highway, one of Australia’s great road journeys, and follow in the footsteps of explorer Edward John Eyre who crossed the highway in 1841.

The boat was loaded onto a truck today in Fremantle and the responsibility of getting the boat safely across Australia goes to Charlie Mills who was slightly nervous about the task in hand: “It did make me nervous when I found out how much the boat costs and what it is worth to the team. The load is 27 metres long, 5.1 metres wide and 5 metres high and in the process we have to avoid oncoming traffic, road cranes, power lines and tight corners. We also have to try to stay on solid ground and make sure the boat doesn’t get damaged by chips or stones from passing vehicles.”

It is a mammoth road trip and being restricted to 12 hours driving a day and 30 minutes break every 4 hours, as well as keeping to the 80 km/hr speed limit, will make it a painstaking process, and not one you want to watch the clock ticking down as Mills concluded: “I have not transported a boat before but I have transported wind farm blades. The longest load I have transported was 52.5 metres so I think I am the man for the job! I will have a police escort to the front and rear so hopefully that should make the journey easier but it will be a slow process. I will go as quickly as I can and drive as much as I can in order to keep to schedule.”

This is one of the biggest challenges that Brasil 1 has encountered. After suffering structural problems which were repaired in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, before they continued on the leg, Brasil 1 took her second knock of the leg when she lost her mast 1500 nautical miles off the coast of Australia.

The team sailed for nearest land, Fremantle, under jury rig, eventually arriving yesterday. Since then the team have worked around the clock to crane the boat out of the water and pack it up so it can be loaded onto the truck.

Brasil 1 Syndicate Head Alan Adler commented: “This is another challenge for the Brasil 1 team and we are going to have to work really hard to get back in the game. A lot of our guys are new to this but we have a very strong team not only from the logistics side but also the technical side and this is part of the race so we will just have to overcome it.”

Despite the challenges ahead, the team spirit is still strong as watch captain Knut Frostad summed up: “As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, so if that’s true, we will be really strong for the next leg.”

The seventh boat in the Volvo Ocean Race also arrived into Melbourne today. Ericsson made the trip from Port Elizabeth onboard the Wallenius Wilhelmsen ship ‘Tagus’, and arrived into Waterfront City Race Village, Docklands today, taking up her place in the Volvo Open 70 pit lane. Whilst all of the work is being carried out on the Volvo Open 70’s they have pride of place in the race village. Instead of doing the work away from the public eye, a high walkway has been constructed off the ground, so members of the public can look down on the boats and watch the team members at work.

Skipper Neal McDonald said: “Once we have made the necessary repairs we will need to put the boat back together and we hope to get her back in the water early next week. Everyone is keen to get back into it and the task is now to make sure we prioritise and do the essential work, so that we can get out there and train for the in-port race.”

The boat yard and container park is awash with activity and whilst many of the teams have their boat builders in, one of the first tasks for the newly named Brunel (formerly ING REAL ESTATE BRUNEL) was to get the decorators in. Over the weekend she will have a change of image and branding and will compete in the Melbourne in-port race under her new name. The Dutch company Brunel, which specializes in professional staffing, have come to the rescue for Grant Wharington and his predominantly Australian team and will provide the campaign with a much needs cash injection. The additional funds will allow for new sails to be built as well as modifications to increase the performance of the boat.

Wharington explained the boats next steps: “The next stage is to compete in the in-port race in Melbourne and then ship the boat to Baltimore. The reason for this decision is so that we can make some significant changes to the boat and also allow ourselves some extra time to train. I want to make the team and Brunel proud and I would rather miss a leg or two in order to have a top performance instead of just being a number on the score board. The aim is now to win a leg or be the first boat to break the 600 nautical mile barrier rather than be in sixth or seventh place on every leg. We will also be taking on a Dutch sailor for the remainder of the legs.”

For Paul Cayard and his band of Pirates, there is also a big work list to get the boat in top shape for the in-port race and leg restart. Although Cayard is happy with the developments that are being made: “The Pirates are making progress here in Melbourne. The boat is disassembled and the repairs are being affected.”

Although they are working hard, the team did manage some time out to receive some special guests, as Cayard explains: “Manuel Fernandez, Chairman of Pescanova and Manuel Perez, Managing Director of Pescanova Australia arrived last night to visit the team. Manuel Fernandez brought his usual optimistic attitude and a really nice video he made from the work the shore team did in his boat yard at Punta Lagoa (Spain) last October. Here in Melbourne, the shore team is in the midst of a tough 10 day work period to repair The Black Pearl so it was a nice time to show them that they too are stars! The crew takes the baton at sea and the shore team carries the baton ashore. The Pirates are strong because of all the Pirates.”

Many of the sailing teams, including TEAM ABN AMRO, are enjoying a few days of rest and catching up with family and friends but with just over week until the in-port race the time will be cut short and the hard work will continue.

The in-port race takes place on the 4 February with the leg restart on the 12 February.

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