Pirates steal a win

In the most thrilling of finishes, Pirates of the Caribbean (Paul Cayard/USA) finally crept past ABN AMRO TWO (Sebastien Josse) in the closing moments of leg nine and crossed the final finish line of the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06 in Goteborg, Sweden, today at 13:44:06 GMT (14:44:06 local time) to a rapturous welcome by thousands of onlookers cramming the race village in Lindholmen.

On this beautiful Swedish summer’s day, thousands of spectators lined the islands and surrounding shoreline as well as taking to the water to applaud the Pirates as they scored their first win of the event and in so doing, secured their position of second place overall in the event. ABN AMRO TWO finished in second place at 13:48:56 GMT, just four minutes 50 seconds after the American boat.

After leading for most of leg nine, Brasil 1 (Torben Grael) finally crossed the line at 14:32:15 MT to take the third podium position, and confirm her third place overall. This is a fantastic achievement for Brazil who has never had a team represented in this race until now.

On finishing, Paul Cayard said:

“This couldn’t have been scripted better by anyone in Hollywood.

“I feel bad for the ABN AMRO TWO guys, but at the end of the day, we were racing to win, so we had to take advantage of the situation.

“This is the best welcome into any port that I have ever seen. Gothenburg couldn’t have welcomed us any bigger and you can’t go out on a higher note than that.

“We were one of the most consistent boats with 11 podium places. That’s smart sailing. We were in last place a couple of days ago and we got lucky.

“It’s all over now. We have a great group of guys, we’ve had our down moments, but no one quit and we just did what champions do and pull together.”

Race patron HRH Prince Carl Philip of Sweden was waiting on the dockside to welcome the Pirates and to present the trophies to Paul Cayard and his team for winning this leg and also to Sebastien Josse for finishing second. Joining the Prince were Fredrik Arp, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation and Leif Johansson, president of AB Volvo.

Paul Cayard and The Black Pearl, the last of the racing yachts to be launched, initially took the offshore option in the opening stage of leg nine, but as the inshore route appeared to be more favourable, the team took the expensive decision to cut their losses yesterday and head towards the Danish coast, leaving Ericsson (Neal McDonald) and ABN AMRO ONE (Mike Sanderson) out to sea. Their reward came slowly, but surely, as they started to overtake, first Brunel (Matt Humphries) and then Brasil 1.

For the young team on ABN AMRO TWO, the final few hours of leg nine could not have been more intense. As they ghosted to a halt at the head of the fleet, just 16 miles from the finish, they could only look over their shoulders as the Pirates bore down on them. Cayard’s team maintained their speed and crept past the Dutch yacht, taking the lead at just after midday, GMT.

ABN AMRO TWO snatched the lead from Brasil 1 (Torben Grael) yesterday at 1600 GMT, and initially took a six mile lead, which, by 2200 GMT had stretched to 15 miles. Overnight, the team still managed to average 10 knots, but as dawn rose, the wind died leaving the team in a nail-biting situation, with a much deserved win slipping through their fingers as the crew was left powerless.