Mike Sanderson and team aboard ABN AMRO One have won Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race 18/4/06

At 1857 GMT yesterday, skipper Mike Sanderson steered ABN AMRO One across the VOR Leg 5 finish line in first place after 15 days, 2 hours, 47 minutes and 52 seconds at sea. Sanderson and team sailed under the Annapolis Bridge and across the finish line south-east of Sandy Point, 18 nautical miles from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, to add another leg win to their tally of three wins and a second place in the Volvo Ocean Race so far.

Finishing in almost drifting conditions, at one point having us a kedge anchor to prevent the boat drifting backwards on the outgoing tide, Mike Sanderson was relieved to have kept the lead from movistar who was challenging them right to the very end.

“It is awesome to have won this leg,” said Sanderson after crossing the finish line. “The conditions in the Bay have not been fast, but we have been through a lot of different weather systems on this leg and it is incredible that we have got through them all and are here in first place.

“Once again the boys have done a fantastic job – I am always happy but today I am more than happy and I am very proud to be part of this team. It is a great day for us and I am looking forward to getting onto dry land here in America.”

In his last e-mail from the boat prior to the finish, Sanderson said: “The last word for this leg has to go to the boys on Black Betty. They have worked so hard over the last 16 days. It is just such a cool group to be a part of; even when we were last on the scheds, the spirit was amazing.

“Mike Quilter, who is a veteran of at least four of these races and famous for being the winning navigator for both Sir Peter Blake and Grant Dalton, often likes to joke around with us as he works with us on the strategy. In a quieter moment in Rio, he came up to me and said, ” Make sure you enjoy this race Moose, boats and teams like this are very special, and don’t come around in our careers too often…”

ABN AMRO One set the pace on day two of leg five from Rio de Janeiro to Baltimore, but was overtaken the following day by Spain’s movistar with Bouwe Bekking in charge. Positions in the fleet then changed almost on an hourly basis, with ABN AMRO One sinking as low as fourth before slowly reeling in the fleet and challenging movistar as they approached the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha on day five.

Movistar led ABN AMRO One around the island by one minute 25 seconds, scoring three points, after six days of difficult and often frustrating conditions. Sanderson and his team then rolled over the top of movistar almost immediately in an exciting move, to take the lead which they maintained right up to the finish.

ABN AMRO One heads the overall leaderboard with 62.5 points, 22 points ahead of movistar in second position overall, who was just 17 miles behind ABN AMRO One when she crossed the finish line.