It's Groundhog Day again as the two ABN boats lead the fleet

Seemingly able to squeeze that extra knot or more from the breeze than the rest of the fleet, by late on day two of leg four of the Volvo Ocean Race, the crew of ‘Black Betty’, ABN AMRO ONE had eked out a 15 mile lead over their team mates, the youngsters on ABN AMRO TWO. Nine miles behind them and showing offshore form for the first time in this race was Ericsson fresh from the Wellington pit stop that caused so much controversy. When lying last on Leg 3 Neal MacDonald declared that he was suspending racing which allowed the Ericsson shore crew to work on the boat without penalty denied to other crews. In fact movistar, leg 3 winners, opted to take the two hour penalty to sort out problems with their canting keel. Before starting leg four Ericsson returned to the race track and officially ‘finished’ leg three.

Back at sea Paul Cayard’s Pirates of the Caribbean had a close boat to boat duel with Ericsson for several hours but later dropped back and was five miles behind with movistar, making up for much of their two hour penalty, a further 34 miles back. Torben Grael’s Brasil 1 is trailing the fleet having suffered sail damage shortly after the start. ‘The inside of Brasil 1 is redecorated into a sail loft, and under strict management by our sail making general Stu ‘Mamoo’ Wilson, the genoa is slowly being glued and stitched back together’ said Grael.

The fleet is skirting south of a high pressure area and should soon pick up 20 – 30 knot westerlies for the start of the sleigh ride to Cape Horn. Whilst there are ‘ice gates’ on this leg ice could still pose a threat as they have to dive down to 56 degrees south to get round the Cape.