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April 01, 2009 @ 13:58:22   Foto Diana Bogaards/Team Delta Lloyd

Delta Lloyd and Telefonica Black spar during a practice session in Rio

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It hasn't been easy for the Telefonica Black and Delta Lloyd teams to watch the rest of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet race through the Southern Ocean to get to Rio.


Both boats arrived here by ship, rather than under their own power, after suffering significant damage on the way to Qingdao during Leg 4. But today, the two sailing teams arranged to meet on the waters of Guanabara Bay, off the Marina da Gloria, to try and make up for lost time.

For Delta Lloyd, this was their third day of sailing since returning to the water last week. With new crew members, a new mast and several new sails to test, these days ahead of the in-port race on the weekend are critical in terms of getting the boat up to speed.

Telefonica Black was sailing for just the second day since being forced to abandon racing during the fourth leg. Their Spanish skipper, Fernando Echavarri, was itching to get behind the wheel and get his team back on song.

"We were a little bit rusty so we were really looking forward to going outside and racing a little bit," Echavarri said. "We practiced with Delta Lloyd for several hours - start procedures and short races around the bay, despite the really tricky and light conditions.

"In another day or two we will finish with all the 'to do' lists and we'll be out with the full crew who will be sailing with us in the in-port race."

Roberto 'Chuny' Bermudez, the skipper of Delta Lloyd, said his team is still on a steep learning curve, but he's pleased with all the changes the team has made over the past couple of months, and is eager to test out the new kit.

"New mast, new sails, new crew, new bow...but it's a good feeling," he said. "The mast is much stiffer and the rig works well with the sails. Yesterday and the day before we tested some of the new sails and they're really good. I'm very happy with them.

"The new guys (Wouter Verbraak, Ben Costello, Nick Bice) are really good. They're real professionals and they improve the team a lot. They make all of us better."

In extremely light conditions of 4 to 8 knots, the teams sparred with some practice starts and then a couple of short races, with Delta Lloyd coming up short in the informal competition.

"We have to buy the beers today," Chuny laughed. "But we learned a lot. We did a few starts and two races, but unfortunately we lost 2-0, so we have to buy the drinks. But tomorrow, we'll try for a re-match"



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