Volvo Ocean Race team Sanya gun for Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Abu Dhabi in Sanya’s sight - Leg 4 - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12
Andres Soriano/Team Sanya/Volvo Ocean Race
Volvo Ocean Race team Sanya, currently at the back of the fleet, had the crosshairs fixed firmly on fifth-placed Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing on Friday after halving the distance to their rivals in 24 hours.

Mike Sanderson's crew were within 17 miles of Ian Walker's team on Azzam at 0100 UTC and looking for any opportunity to pounce as they entered the last 400 miles of leg four.

'We're gunning for Abu Dhabi, for sure,' Sanya watch captain Richard Mason said in a call from the boat.

'We've been chipping away at them for days now. They're within 20 miles and we're trying to run them down as best we can in the mighty Sanya Lan.'

After more than 5,000 nautical miles of racing, Sanya were this morning ranked sixth but still very much in touch with the fleet as leg four reached its climax.

Mason said his team were looking for any chance that would allow them to beat one of their rivals into Auckland.

'We just need opportunities. If we could just get a couple of opportunities we could wriggle our way in.

'To beat one of the boats into New Zealand would be wonderful, absolutely fantastic.

'We've sailed this boat pretty hard and we hope we've sailed it much better than in the previous legs,' he said.

'We have managed to stay in touch a lot longer and have forced the boats to race us a bit.'

Mason said Sanya, with seven New Zealanders on board, were hoping to use local knowledge to give them the upper hand as the fleet race down the coast of the North Island.

But first they must survive an overnight upwind battering in 25 knots winds and seas of up to seven metres.

'We're copping it a bit out here,' said Aucklander Mason. 'We've got 25 knots on the nose forecast for tonight and huge waves.

'It should be an interesting night - the waves at the moment are huge.

'When you're standing at the back of the boat driving you're probably a good five metres out of the water.

'The horizon has been disappearing as we go over the top of these things.

'As you go over them you get a bump in your tummy as the bow drops off and you fall into the trough behind.'

Volvo Ocean Race website