Volume 18 • Issue 52 | May 12 - 18, 2006

World-class sailors drop anchor in B.P.C.

Downtown Express photos by Jefferson Siegel

Mike Sanderson of New Zealand’s ABN AMRO 1, which just won the treacherous leg of the race from Baltimore to New York City.

By Janel Bladow

Fighting head winds, rough seas and lobster pots, the seven sailing ships in the round-the-world sailing endurance known as the Volvo Ocean Race, slipped into Battery Park City’s North Cove Marina Tuesday morning just as most New Yorkers were getting off to work.

This finished the sixth and shortest leg of the race known as the most extreme race on water. The 70-foot sailing yachts left Baltimore harbor on Sunday, sailed down the mouth of the Chesapeake River and turned north in the Atlantic Ocean where they were hit head-on with strong winds and rough seas.

“Good harbor, spectacular view,” said Jules Salter, navigator aboard The Pirates of the Caribbean, the U.S. yacht owned by Disney. “Light was coming over the city as we arrived. We had good position, with four other boats behind us.”

Pirates, the only U.S. yacht in the race is now in second place. Tied for fourth is the boat from Brazil, Brazil 1. The boats are setting sail for Portsmouth, England Thursday morning, May 11.

Torben Grael, skipper of Brazil 1 was thrilled coming into the harbor at first light, especially after the trip he had on the way up. “Our start out of Baltimore went well, then we ran into a problem. The boat caught on lobster pots. We got tangled during the night, sailed the next 20 hours hooked, and dropped to sixth place. Still, we managed to pass two boats as we approached Ambrose Light and into the harbor.

“It was early a.m., very impressive to see the Statue of Liberty come into view,” he said.

He and his crew have been able to see very little of New York City, he said. “Most of us got three hours sleep on the way up, and yesterday we had to do repairs on the boat.”

Last night the team dined at Churrascaria Tribeca. “It was fantastic, very good,” he said.

Many local workers came out at lunchtime on Wednesday to see the yachts and greet their crews.

Mark Zavanelli, who works nearby at Oppenheimer Funds and friend Rob Appelbaum, a consultant, are both members of the Manhattan Sailing Club based in North Cove.

“It’s the beginning of the sailing season so there’s a lot of interest around here,” said Appelbaum. “This is the first time there are boats in here this season.”

Zavanelli echoed his sentiments about the scope of the ships and their support system. “Pretty impressive. This is great,” he said. “We’ll have to be the host club next time!”

Sailors took questions from students from P.S. 42 in Chinatown and P.S. 89 in Battery Park City, during a post lunch Q and A., including: How do you drive the boats? A. Have a wheel like a car but is powered by sails and a rudder which the wheel turns. Where do you go to the bathroom? A. A small toilet in a closet that is pumped out.

What do you eat on the boat? A. Snacks like chocolate, peanuts and biscuits and three meals a day, two warm of freeze-dried food mixed with water that becomes stew or chicken whatever.

But the highlight for many visitors was the simulator ride provided by ABN AMRO, sponsor of the yacht currently in first place.

The ride gives you an insider’s look at life onboard a racing yacht, complete with water splash. Simone Liberty, 8, of Connecticut said she stayed dry by covering her head with the plastic poncho provided to all riders. “But it’s not really like being on a boat. The real boats get really close and almost crash.”

More information about the Volvo Ocean Race is at www.VolvoOcean Race.org.


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