Pirates of the Caribbean loses second place to ABN AMRO 2

There are huge losses in the fleet tonight as ABN AMRO (Mike Sanderson) continues to streak towards Melbourne at a comforting 18 knots, while the rest of the fleet is barely managing 10 knots. The rest, that is, with the exception of Pirates of the Caribbean (Paul Cayard), who has hit the wall. Hard. They have forfeited 69 nautical miles in the last six hours to the leaders, and, worse still, have lost their grip on second place.

At 1800 tonight, Cayard wrote: “We just spotted a light in the mast ahead. It is either ABN AMRO TWO (Sebastien Josse) that has now passed us, a fishing boat or a real Pirate ship. Not sure yet, we will let you know.” The bad news for the Pirates is that this was, almost certainly, ABN AMRO TWO, who is now sailing at twice their speed, and has pulled out a 30-mile lead as they set up to pass neatly through the scoring gate at the Kerguelen Islands in second position.

Not content with watching the transom of ABN AMRO TWO disappear over the horizon, Cayard now has to concern himself with the spectre of the Spanish boat looming. Movistar (Bouwe Bekking) is sailing at over twice the speed of the Black Pearl and has closed the gap to 45 nm.

Volvo Ocean Race meteorologist, Chris Bedford, explains: “A very vigorous low is expected to develop to the north-west of the fleet and then move south-east towards higher latitudes during the week. This will bring stronger winds to the trailing boats first and may allow them to make some more substantial gains, recovering some of the losses suffered over the last two days.” This should benefit the Australians onboard ING Real Estate Brunel, who are 675 adrift from the leaders but 235 miles from the Black Pearl and sailing four knots faster.

Bedford is warning that the new low looks to be quite strong. “As it approaches, the crews will need to start considering when to maximise their speed and when to throttle back to limit the chances of damage.” Longer term, he is predicting that the chasing pack will be within 750 miles of the second scoring gate at Eclipse Island by the weekend.

Current positions at 2200 hrs on 9 January

1. Team ABN Amro One, Mike Sanderson – 3,699 miles to finish

2. Team ABN Amro Two, Sebastien Josse – 365 miles from leader

3. Pirates of the Caribbean, Paul Cayard – 395 miles from leader

4. Movistar, Bouwe Bekking, 440 miles from leader

5. ING Real Estate Brunel, Grant Wharington – 675 miles from leader

6. Brasil 1, Torben Grael, due to depart from Africa on Tuesday

7. Ericsson Racing Team Neal McDonald, retired