Mike Sanderson and team shake off fleet and head for Portsmouth 16/5/06

They went from an 11-mile lead to seventh, hit a whale, broke a daggerboard and had problems with their canting keel yet Team ABN AMRO One are in the lead once again heading across the Atlantic.

Mike Sanderson and team aboard the Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed ABN AMRO One have had an interesting 24 hours in the Volvo Ocean race but true to form they are now back in control and, with just over 2,000 miles to Leg 7 finish at Portsmouth, they have a 37-mile lead over Neal McDonald’s team aboard Ericsson.

Commenting on the recent events Sanderson said: “There are three things that you worry about mainly in this version of the Volvo Ocean Race; firstly that the tactics that you choose don’t work out, secondly that you will have issues with your canting keel, and thirdly which is often hot on my mind due to the speeds we are sailing is hitting something. For us in the last 24 hrs we have had all of those and in fact in that order!”

On Sunday it became clear that Team AMRO’s play to the north wasn’t going to work because a ridge of high pressure was closer than expected. Consequently they had to tack out of the Nova Scotian coast on a bad shift that left them at the bottom of the fleet. They then had problems with their canting keel and, just when they thought things couldn’t get much worse, they hit a whale see previous news story here. 

Having regained the lead yesterday Sanderson and team have reached a new breeze and are currently steaming ahead doing 17kts in 15kts of windspeed while McDonald’s team on Ericsson in second are making 12kts in 11kts of breeze.

Brasil 1 in third place, 62 miles behind the leader and well to the north, are in similar windspeeds to ABN AMRO Two but currently only making 14kts which could be a result of reoccurring canting keel problems. According to the latest report from the boat the rams are leaking again and the crew is having to collect, filter and re-use the fluid. Commenting Horatio Carabelli said: “We have the emergency supply but right now our routine is manually pumping the keel every half an hour to keep the keel fully canted.”

Still well out to the north is Bouwe Bekking’s movistar that’s been struggling overnight to make an impact in the significantly lighter breeze. This morning however, she seems to have found a new breeze and is now making 14kts in 15kts of breeze.

The current estimated date of arrival for the leading yachts is Saturday 20 May.