ABN AMROTwo now nearly 200 miles ahead of Ericsson on approach to Portsmouth 19/5/06

Following yesterday’s tragic news of the death of Hans Horrevoets – crewman aboard ABN AMRO Two – the fleet has settled back on course to the finish of Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean race.

The leading yacht ABN AMRO One skippered by Mike Sanderson has increased her lead overnight to 192 miles over Neal McDonald and team aboard Ericsson. Ericsson is currently in 23kts of breeze clocking 19kts while AMRO One in 27kts is maintaining 21kts boatspeed. The current estimated time of arrival of the leader into Portsmouth is 1900 tomorrow.

According to Ericsson Racing Team meteorologist, Chris Tibbs: “Today will see more fast speeds as the gale force winds persist, with the yachts sailing as deep an angle as possible, gybing on the wind shifts to stay in the strong wind and on the quickest course. The best estimate as to when Ericsson will arrive at the Lizard scoring gate, is Saturday mid afternoon. Then, with about 174 nautical miles to the finish, an early morning arrival on Sunday is expected.”

Further down the fleet – 447 miles behind the leader – Team movistar is still suffering with major damage to her mainsail which occurred during a gybe when changing course to help assist ABN AMRO Two yesterday morning. According to the latest news from Bouwe Bekking they have been sailing under trysail, storm jib and reaching headsail while crew continues to carry out repair work to the mainsail. Despite the lack of sail area however, they are still making 16kts in 15kts of windspeed.

The brave team aboard ABN AMRO Two are continuing to sail as fast as possible towards Portsmouth. The original plan for the team was to rendezvous with a German freighter to transfer Hans Horrevoets to a vessel with better facilities, was abandoned because of the poor conditions and the inherent difficulty of transferring the body.

A split mainsail is also hampering progress of Brunel who are now 487 miles from the leader sailing at 16kts under trysail and jibs while repair work is carried out to the main.