Volvo fleet passes the Netherlands

A quirky addition to Leg 8, the Rotterdam Gate Race, was completed this morning as the fleet passed by the Netherlands.

The gate race course was marked out by two rounding points requiring the fleet to complete a reaching loop. The idea was for the times set by the Volvo Open 70s to be logged and for professionals and amateurs to challenge those times when they were let loose on the course once the fleet had passed.

The 70s completed the 3.6 nautical mile time trial in 20-25 knots with the wind at 220. Ericsson 3, labouring at the back of the fleet in the Leg 8 standings, set the fastest time of 12 minutes 40 seconds. Thereafter the order was PUMA (14:03), Telefonica Black (14:35), Telefonica Blue (14:56), Green Dragon (14:58), Delta Lloyd (15:03), Ericsson 4 (15:11).

As for the non-Volvo sailors, approximately 60 boats signed up for the challenge, sailing a combination of yachts, pogos, catamarans, moths and Extreme 40s.

Dutch Olympic Finn sailor, Pieter-Jan Postma, who was second at the 2007 world championships, will be racing, as will be the new Team Heiner 38 penned by Juan Kouyoumdjian, the Argentine designer of the two second generation Volvo Open 70s carrying Ericsson Racing team's hopes in the 2008-09 race. He also designed Delta Lloyd, formerly ABN AMRO ONE, the winner of the 2005-06 Volvo.

Among the all-comers, Hemels van der Hart, at the controls of the TH38, set the fastest time of 17 minutes. The reward is a trip to St Petersburg for the race finish.

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