A positive Mike Sanderson aboard ABN AMRO One pays tribute to Spanish rivals aboard movistar 7/4/06

Date6 April

I said all along that he who breaks out of the light airs with a reasonable lead will probably extend all the way to Fernando, and the minute the second of those two sched reports came through which showed movistar having gained such big amounts in the west I thought that first place at the gate was pretty much done. Now barring a disaster movistar will earn a well deserved 3.5 points at the gate, probably tomorrow night [Friday], if the forecast is semi accurate.

The reason I say well deserved is that they have been a hard working team that have been amongst the favorites all along. It will give them a nice confidence boost after their misfortunes of the last leg when they had to pull into Ushuaia.

One of the hard things to totally get my head around is that we knew that someone was going to go there and that there was a good chance that it would pay. We decided to stay with the rivals that were around us though, and make sure that if it didn’t pan out that we wouldn’t be dropped by the pack.

At the decision time to go west we were fighting it out with reaching sails on with The Pirates, ABN AMRO 2 and Ericsson and because the Kids and the Pirates are the closest ones to us on the overall leader board, we decided to stay with them. I am sure Movistar would have done the same, but they weren’t up in that fight, they were 11 miles back and so instead of coming down the same track as the rest of us were, they headed west on the advice of the weather router [software] and it paid.

Two good scheds in a row, while the rest of us where very slow and suddenly they are 40 miles in front… At the same time, 24 hours earlier, they had been 16 miles behind? so it was a good day on Movistar. Anyway they kept their cool, sailed well and hung on to a 20-mile or so lead as we left the nasty light airs and entered the trades and the rest is history.

If all goes to plan, they should be sailing into more breeze all the time and will just get faster and faster as they approach Fernando, yes a rich getting richer scenario and what do you know, we’re not in the front. No, I’m kidding, I am really happy with where we are, after three days of what were, for sure, not ‘Black Betty’ conditions, to find ourselves in second spot at this stage is awesome.

Today we have had some great fun trying to catch the Pirates. When the sun came up this morning they were a speck on the horizon. By the time the sun was going down, we had finally got past them and then by the 2200 UTC sched we had them a few miles behind. A really satisfying result considering most of the day was spent in 7 to 10 knots of wind. Although reaching, which is our strength, it wasn’t fully powered up so we weren’t showing off our horsepower.

We should, however, get quite a lot of fully pressed up reaching coming up, not just in the south-easterly trades between here and the Doldrums, but also once through the Doldrums into the north-easterly trades as we head towards the Caribbean and then onto the East Coast of the US.

So let’s wait and see, hopefully firstly we can keep the guys behind us there and then secondly maybe, as the breeze starts to even out, we can have a go at trying to catch up the movistar. So for now any ‘Black Betty’ fans out there, stop wishing for rich getting richer conditions and just pray for a lot of pressed up reaching and then let’s see what she can do.

Talk soon
Mike Sanderson – skipper