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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 May 2006, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
ABN Amro One seals Ocean Race win
ABN Amro One has now won six of the seven legs in the race
ABN Amro One has now won six of the seven legs in the race
ABN Amro One has won the Volvo Ocean Race after taking an unassailable lead following its victory in leg seven.

Mike Sanderson's team crossed the line off Portsmouth at 0030 BST on Sunday, nine days after leaving New York.

The Dutch boat has now won six of the seven legs in the round-the-world race and cannot be caught by its rivals.

Meanwhile, keel problems forced the crew to abandon Spanish yacht Movistar and transfer to a competitor off the coast of Cornwall on Sunday.

The race is very secondary in comparison to a life
Ericsson skipper Neal McDonald

Movistar and ABN Amro Two, which lost crewman Hans Horrevoets overboard on Thursday, were 300 miles south west of Land's End in rough seas with winds set to strengthen to Force 10.

The 10-man crew were transferred safely via life raft during a lull in the wind, while Royal Navy patrol vessel HMS Mersey is heading to the scene.

Movistar's crew had battled throughout Saturday night to make the boat safe enough to reach Land's End but Dutch skipper Bouwe Bekking made the decision to abandon with winds forecast to increase 50 knots.

The yacht has been left with her generator and Inmarsat Satcom C communications system running so that her position can be tracked as long as possible.

Spanish yacht Movistar
Spanish yacht Movistar was skippered by Bouwe Bekking

"The hardest decision I ever taken in my life was the call to abandon ship," said Bekking.

"We had survived for nearly 24 hours, but with a forecast of 35-40 knots and peeking up to 50, I just wasn't sure the boat would hold out."

Bekking was quick to thank ABN Amro Two for coming to their rescue.

"We all realised that turning around had been a very hard call for them," said Bekking.

"Hopefully they can find a little comfort that they have saved 10 lives. A boat is just a boat, you can replace it, but lives you cannot."

In Portsmouth, Swedish entry Ericsson, skippered by Briton Neal McDonald, finished 13 hours adrift in second, 28 minutes head of America's Pirates of the Caribbean. Torben Grael's Brasil 1 came in fourth.

But celebrations were muted following the death of sailor Horrevoets.

Horrevoets, a helmsman and sail trimmer, was rescued after being swept overboard on Thursday but failed to regain consciousness.

It was the first death in the race since 1989 and the fifth in its 32-year history.

From the minute we got the message about the man overboard, I had that sinking feeling that it might be one of us
Mike Sanderson on the death of Hans Horrevoets

"It was such a huge setback losing Hans, but I know this is what he would have wanted," said ABN Amro One skipper Sanderson.

"For me, this is the Olympic medal, the climbing Everest. It's a childhood dream to have skippered a boat and to have won the Volvo Ocean Race.

"It has been absolutely unbelievable. It has been the most amazing race with the most amazing team. We have been so tight as a team, from top to bottom."

Speaking about the tragic loss of Horrevoets, he said: "From the minute we got the message about the man overboard, I had a feeling that it might be one of us.

"We felt every minute that the guys were looking for him and they did an amazing job to get back to him. It was just tragic that it wasn't soon enough."

McDonald added: "The conditions were the most gruelling I have ever seen on an Atlantic crossing - like having Southern Ocean conditions for days on end.

"If it wasn't for the tragedy onboard ABN Amro Two, we would be immensely happy now. But as things are, we simply cannot celebrate. The race is very secondary in comparison to a life."

The nine-leg Volvo Ocean Race officially ends in Goteborg, Sweden, in mid-June.



SEE ALSO
Crew member killed in Volvo race
18 May 06 |  Sailing
ABN Amro One first into New York
09 May 06 |  Sailing
Volvo fleet begins leg six dash
07 May 06 |  Sailing
ABN Amro One clinches port race
25 Mar 06 |  Sailing
Volvo skipper McDonald ousted
16 Mar 06 |  Sailing
ABN Amro One triumph in leg four
11 Mar 06 |  Sailing
Movistar edges out ABN Amro One
19 Feb 06 |  Sailing
ABN Amro One takes Melbourne leg
21 Jan 06 |  Sailing


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