As the rest of the fleet picks up the Trades SEB, having gone from the back to leader, drops back
SEB came back from the dead on Friday as they picked up the long-awaited breeze well to the east, off the African coast, and moved from no-hope last to the lead of the Volvo Ocean Race.
However, to the west, as the Trades kicked in it was race favourite illbruck who benefited from the stronger winds. By Sunday morning illbruck had stormed ahead to a 38 mile advantage over SEB, now languishing in fifth, behind Assa Abloy (24 miles off the leader), Team Newscorp (37 miles) and Tyco (38 miles). Meanwhile focus was on Nautor Amer One (45 miles) who had kept up well in the light winds of the last week, despite being, in her skipper, Grant Dalton’s words, ‘the widest boat in the fleet’, meaning more wetted surface than some of the slim Farr boats.
Because Amer One is expected to excel in the new fast reaching conditions, although it was Assa Abloy who was clocking the fastest average, 17 knots compared with illbruck’s 15.1, SEB and Amer One’s 14.
Ahead of them lie the horse latitudes, the Doldrums, where the closely packed fleet could be turned inside-out depending on who finds the South Atlantic Trades first. If there was ever a tactical leg this is it.