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Volvo Ocean Yacht Race Begins in Spain

The first points up for grabs for the seven carbon fiber yachts in the 2005-2006 Volvo Ocean Race will be handed out this weekend during the first-ever in-shore race, in Sanxenxo, Spain. Following this event, the boats will head off for more traditional waters next Saturday when they leave Vigo in Spain for Cape Town in South Africa.

The latest Volvo Ocean Race sees a new class of boat - the frighteningly quick Volvo 70. But before these speedsters head out into the Atlantic Ocean, they are going to be shown off in front of huge crowds in Spain in the beautiful coastal town of Sanxenxo.

The American navigator aboard ABN Amro, Stan Honey, won't be taking this in-port race lightly. "We're taking it very seriously, and there are real points being assigned to the inshore, so you have to. And it's also a very interesting thing to do in off-shore boats and with very small crews to slew them around the buoys like we're going to, so we're all looking forward to it," he said.

ABN is probably the best prepared boat in the fleet, but the American entry, The Black Pearl, is not. "We've been fortunate on the Pirates not to have had any major glitches (problems) which could have seriously slowed us down. So we've gotten through the list of the tasks we wanted to achieve, the major ones, and I feel like the boat's 95 percent prepared," said skipper, and previous winner of the Volvo race, Paul Cayard.

What will worry the rest of the fleet is that a boat prepared by Cayard, even if it is only 95 percent, will still prove fearsome competition.