Team movistar are sill leading Leg 5 of the VOR but the AMRO boys are not far off their transom 7/4/06

Now four and a half days into Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race the Spanish Farr-designed movistar is maintaining its lead up the coast of Brazil. However, although Bouwe Bekking and team aboard the Spanish boat have increased their advantage overnight the ABN AMRO One boys have successfully worked their way through the fleet to second place and are now just 21 miles astern. The leading two boats are currently clocking identical boat speeds at 16 knots but AMRO is in slightly more wind.

John Kostecki aboard Ericsson chats about the experiences of the last few days: “We are finally across the ridge which slowed our progress the past few days. We have southeast trade wind conditions now which means dealing with the clouds properly can provide some gains on the fleet. There is some luck involved with the timing, but if you position the boat in the correct place, you can benefit from the clouds…but it is a tricky balance of your sailing course and how far off
course you want to be to negotiate the clouds.

“The heat has been fine to date, but we are still south of the equator, so we are expecting it to get worse. A few of us have skin rashes from the heat and being moist, but from what I remember the last two times that I have done this leg, it is all normal stuff. Temps are pretty hot below, but fortunately we have fans on each bunk to provide a breeze.”

According to the latest weather report, the conditions over the next 48 hours are expected to remain stable although the wind will continue to back towards the south-east bringing a further increase in wind and making the right-hand side of the course the favoured side.

Apparently the doldrums have become more active over the last few days, with numerous showers and thunderstorms developing in the vicinity of the scoring gate. With no option other than to pass though the same point of the course there will be few choices on how to approach this area of light and variable winds.

Once through the gate and towards the Equator it will be locally developing squalls that will dictate rather than the highs and lows that move across the course. The leading boats should reach the scoring gate sometime this evening.