Mike Sanderson and VOR team aboard ABN AMRO have scored 3.5 points for passing first scoring gate

At 0130 GMT this morning ABN AMRO scored 3.5 points as the team passed through the first scoring gate at the Ilha de Fernando de Noronha in first position. They add this to the one point they scored in the in-port race in Sanxenxo. If they finish the leg in their current position, they will have a cumulative total of 11.5 points.

Ericsson, (Neal McDonald) is now 27 nm from the scoring gate, having gained a massive 34 nm in the last six hours. They will score three points to add to their in-port race score of 3.5. They will retain the lead overall with 12.5 points if they manage to hold off Brasil 1 (Torben Grael) and ABN AMRO Two (Sebastien Josse), who are racing neck and neck, and finish this leg in second place.

Rather than immediately turning from the scoring gate to the south-east, and on a direct course to the finish, the crews will keep their bows pointed almost due south for several days. The plan will be to make as much southerly progress as possible in order to negotiate the more favourable downwind sailing conditions on the western periphery of the South Atlantic high. This is also known as the St Helena anticyclone after the small British Overseas Territory located in the central South Atlantic Ocean between Angola and Brazil. The centre of this high is often located near St Helena and lies directly in the path between the scoring gate and the leg finish in Cape Town.

Once far enough south, the boats will hope to pick up the stronger westerly winds associated with lows and fontal systems over the far southern reaches of the Atlantic Ocean. These westerly winds will carry them on a speedier path to Cape Town.

Current reports are indicating that the first boat might well finish in Cape Town on 30 November, although Sunergy and Friends could be up to a week behind them. They continue to make reasonable speed, but are still 964 nm adrift from the leading pack.