After a night of hard fought sailing that saw ABN AMRO ONE catch and finally overtake Pirates, Mike Sanderson and his crew are now hot on the heels of movistar and closing rapidly as the boats approach the scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha in Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race.
With wind speeds blowing up to 15 knots ABN AMRO ONE were able to clock up 366 miles in the last 24 hour period, averaging just over 15 knots of boat speed to close the gap on movistar to just 9 nautical miles with just 64 miles to go to the gate.
'It will be quite entertaining if nothing else,' said Sanderson of the chase. 'The boat’s going nicely. This is certainly what we believed to be our sweet spot, and the boat is hauling. So if we carry on the way we are now, we should see them at the scoring gate, which should be fun. Most of the boats in this race have seen us catch up before so I know if I was trying to sail against us in this stuff, I wouldn’t be enjoying it too much!'
Just 24 hours ago ABN AMRO ONE was struggling to find the breeze off the east coast of Brazil but as night fell, bringing with it stronger conditions, it wasn’t long before Mike had the Pirates in his sights. 'All day yesterday I was really pleased how we went through five miles to leeward of them. As the breeze built they used up all their leverage in one hit, and sailed down to our line', said Sanderson.
'If I’d have been in their situation I would have done the same. They minimised the loss to us during that sked, which is why we only gained by a couple of miles. As the wind picked up we were able to cruise away and are thoughts are now about getting to the gate first.'
Meanwhile ABN AMRO TWO has not been so lucky with the conditions and Skipper Sébastien Josse has given up any realistic hope of catching a boat before the Scoring Gate. 'The last two skeds were not so good for us. The boats in front got the pressure a bit earlier,' he said. 'So there is no hope before Fernando. That’s the reality.' But now they are in the same trade winds, the young team should have the chance to at least close the gap on Brasil 1 and Ericsson, ready to pounce later in the leg.
'There is lots of opportunity after the Scoring Gate, it’s a different race after Fernando. It’s more downwind with the masthead chute' concluded Josse. 'We are only 60 miles off the lead – there is plenty of opportunity with so far to go to Baltimore.'