Team movistar hoping to benefit as leading boat slows down in tricky winds ahead 13/4/06

Bouwe Bekking and team aboard the Spanish VOR yacht movistar are hunting down their nearest rivals, race leader ABN AMRO One.

Movistar who led the early part of Leg 5 from Rio was overtaken by AMRO last weekend and has been unable to match the super-fast Kouyoumdjian design in the building north-easterly trade winds.

Overnight however, Bekking and team have monopolised on the consistent 18kt breeze that is continuing to push them closer to Team ABN AMRO who are beginning to feel the effects of the massive occluded front which lies ahead. Sanderson discussing the conditions ahead said: “I have been warning you for a couple of days now that we are going to lose a lot of miles as we approach a massive occluded front. Part of the reason I have been talking about it a lot is so that both you and us are as mentally ready for the bad position reports as possible, but deep down inside, it doesn’t seem to make it any easier.”

Now 10 miles closer to ABN AMRO than she was this time yesterday movistar will continue make as many gains as possible before she too hits the inevitable front ahead.

Brasil 1 in fourth position still 82 miles from the leader blew out their mast head chute yesterday morning. Fortunately the team was able to salvage the sail but extreme damage meant the entire day was spent fixing it. Chatting about the sequence of events at the time Andy Meiklejohn recalled: “The chute’s gone, get the clew in first, that’s dragging in the water at 15 knots, the next 90% not so easy, foot tape off and the middle of sail, previously joined to the luff tape, is flying from the mast head, hmmmm! That section fortunately wrapped itself around the luff tape(still on the tack line) and all was recovered. This was our favourite spinnaker, ‘Scar Face’ the very same spinnaker we tore from head to tack on leg one, ripped the luff of during the first in-port race in Sanxenxo and has seen many a re-cut in-between? ‘Scar Face’ was back and flying in time for sunset. A job well done and hopefully for the last time too.”

Although ABN AMRO Two are still at the rear of the fleet they have gained nearly 20 miles in the last 24 hours and if they can continue to pull back the miles while they still have wind, they could find themselves benefiting from the tricky light airs ahead. Simon Fisher, navigator concluded: “Whether our attempts to salvage a position out of this leg succeeds or not rest assured the boys onboard ABN AMRO Two are working the hardest they can to get to the finish line in good shape.”