illbruck is closing the gap as the fleet finally finds the Trades

As in the last Whitbread, when Brunel Sunergy went from last to first by sailing to the west of the Falklands, so on Leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race, last placed SEB found the breeze the rest of the fleet was lacking by sailing to the east of the Canaries and took the lead on Friday morning.

SEB had opted for a stop at Porto Santo to collect a new headboard car, the original having been damaged in the heavy windward sailing early in the race, and when she re-started trailed the fleet in an apparently hopeless position. Navigator/tactician Marcel van Trieste, the ‘wild card’ in the fleet, however opted to stay to the east rather than to trail in the wake of the others, commenting that it was the only option he had. That this paid off must have been a combination of luck and good strategy.

Meanwhile, illbruck, extending her lead over the rest of the pack to 26 miles over Assa Abloy, also started to feel the Trades kicking in and began to close on SEB so that by 1000 on the latter led by just 11 miles – and with the uncertainty of the Doldrums ahead.

One of the losers in this change of order was Nautor Amer One, dropping back fifth position, 60 miles behind the leader. Skipper Grant Dalton was predicting that this first leg might now last up to 40 days, when most boats have provisioned for just 30. Rationing has already started.