ABN AMRO One increases VOR lead but tricky, light condition ahead could spice up proceedings 12/4/06

Team ABN AMRO One’s tactical decision to take a loss yesterday in order to make more significant future gains seems to have paid off. Sanderson and team currently leading Volvo Ocean Race Leg 5 are slowly but surely pulling away from Bouwe Bekking and his movistar team and are now leading by 40 miles.

In the 18kt north-east trade winds the fleet, now spread over 170 miles, 400 miles from the Caribbean island chain, is engaged in close-reach, drag race making concentration on obtaining optimum boatspeed crucial at this stage of the race.

According to Mike Sanderson on the leading boat the tradewinds are shifting around fairly systematically from day to day both in strength and direction. But the situation is likely to change on the approach to the Chesapeake which will undoubtedly cause a certain amount of consternation for the AMRO boys. Chatting about the weather conditions expected over the next few days Sanderson commented: “The forecast has us dealing with the bad side of a couple of lows as well as a high pressure ridge between the Caribbean and the entrance to the Chesapeake.

“I guess for the guys behind it is in fact an exciting forecast as it means there is a good chance that there will be plenty of re-start possibilities. For us in front of course it is our worst nightmare and will do a pretty good job in making sure that the last week is as stressful as possible. We can’t complain though, we have had some awesome sailing and the bottom line is that our boat is going fast, and I think we will have had more impact on the minds of our competitors on this leg then on any of the previous legs, and that will always be there now even if we don’t have a good last third of the leg.”

Teammates aboard ABN AMRO Two, now 170 miles away at the back of the fleet, are making the most of a bad time. Confirming Sanderson’s predictions, Team AMRO Two seem to be concentrating on their tactics for the light winds ahead. Simon Fisher – navigator – commented: “Perhaps one of the toughest things we have had to endure in this leg so far, especially for myself and Seb (Sebastien Josse) is the fact that it has been a procession for over 1,000 miles now?This is why we are now looking forward to the light winds further north with some excitement – at last an opportunity to get amongst it and play the game once again. Of course this could go both ways for us but that is all part of the fun!”