Crusty's return

Mark Christensen rejoins ABN AMRO One for next leg of Volvo Ocean Race

Wednesday February 8th 2006, Author: Camilla Green, Location: Transoceanic
Mark ‘Crusty’ Christensen, who was forced off ABN AMRO One prior the last leg due to injury, rejoins his crew as Watch Captain in Melbourne for this next leg to Wellington.
Christensen, 36, from Auckland, NZ, sustained the wrist and arm injury during training in Sanxenxo, Spain, prior to the start of the Volvo Ocean Race. After enduring extreme physical pain during the first leg to Cape Town, Christensen, along with consultation from medical experts, chose to stand down for the in port race in Cape Town, as well as the following leg. He also missed the Melbourne in-port race last Saturday.

Having continued working closely with the crew on all aspects of the project as the team made their way down to Melbourne, Christensen is now ready to race once more as his arm has fully healed. “I can’t tell you how pleased I am to be going out racing again, especially this leg, to Wellington, where I was born. An injury is something you never plan, and to see the guys going out in Cape Town, while I was on the dock, was a pretty hard thing for me. Sitting and reading the position reports while they were out at sea, and watching the in port races from a RIB was really hard - I like to jump up and down and be involved, I’m a terrible spectator.”

The leg ahead starts from Melbourne on Sunday 12 February and the fleet are expected to arrive in Wellington four days later. This short sprint leg, which is worth just as many points as any of the long 6,000 nautical mile legs, should provide the fleet with more close racing and could be valuable currency for both of the ABN AMRO boats to continue to extend their lead on the fleet. Christensen, one of seven kiwis in the team, is excited about sailing ‘back home’ but says that this leg will be sailed a little differently to the previous two. “All of the teams will be pushing their boats hard but at the same time we don’t want to burn out. We will want to find a balance, because due to the nature of the pit stop, if you push too hard and break something, you are out for the next leg [to Rio] too. Until now all of the teams have had two weeks at the end of each leg to lift the boats out and fix them, but the issue with this one is, you can’t do that. Coming out of Melbourne with all guns blazing and breaking the boat would not be good, I think everyone will want to be pretty cautious.”

Mike Sanderson, skipper of ABN AMRO One and the only Kiwi skipper in the race, was pleased to welcome Christensen back on board: “Crusty is a really important part of our team, and while he wasn’t on board for the last leg of the race, he has been with us the whole time. Having been such a central part of this project right from the start it felt kind of weird not having him there even though the guys that stepped in did a fantastic job. I’m really pleased he’s now able to come sailing again as I know how gutted he was in Cape Town about not coming with us, but I think we made the right decision and now he is fully fit again we can go out there and make this happen. Bring on New Zealand!”

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