ABN AMRO ONE slows as pack closes

A smiling Bouwe Bekking and Chris Nicholson onboard movistar ©Pepe Ribes
It might look like plain sailing as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet scorches through the Caribbean en route to Baltimore, but it’s a little more complicated than it appears, particularly for ABN AMRO ONE. 'The mental game is starting to hot up out here at the momen. The weather is starting to really throw some curve balls for us for the last couple of thousand miles to Baltimore,' explains Mike Sanderson.

In the last six hours, the leader’s nightmare has became reality; they have slowed to 14 knots while the chasing pack hunts them down at 17 knots or more. The order has not changed tonight, but the entire fleet is cutting into the lead of the Dutch boat and is likely to continue to do so over the next six hours.

movistar has clawed back six miles on the leader and is now 42 nm behind, but the biggest gain has been made by the Pirates, a further 40 nm behind but 11 miles closer to ABN AMRO ONE than at the 1600 sched.

Another six nm back, Brasil 1 has gained six miles since the last position report as has Ericsson, 110 nm from the front, and bringing up the rear another 65 nm behind, ABN AMRO TWO has made a healthy eight nm on their big brother since 1600 GMT.

The weather forecast indicates that there will be plenty of re-start possibilities, something that the crew of ABN AMRO ONE has been dreading. The forecast shows two low pressure systems and a high pressure ridge for the fleet to negotiate between the Caribbean and the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay.

Race meteorologist, Chris Bedford, explains: 'As the fleet continues to head north the breeze should remain out of the north east, decreasing slightly over the next 24 hours, before building again. Occasional squalls will continue to be an issue for the teams and the navigators will continue to study the Bermuda High and any weather moving off the US east coast in order to best plan their approach to the Chesapeake Bay.

'Looking ahead, the North Atlantic or Bermuda High is located around 40N and 30W, with a large ridge extending southwest towards the Bahamas. As the fleet sails through the trade winds they must position themselves to pass through this ridge on their way to the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, a large area of high pressure moving off the US east coast late this week will move across the rhumb line, adding the potential for some light winds along the course.'