Sailing: Leaders bunch up as fleet glimpse the sun

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The Independent Online

The survival suits are being packed away, dripping wet boats are being given a fresh airing and there has even been some glimpses of the sun as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet pulls north from Antarctica.

The survival suits are being packed away, dripping wet boats are being given a fresh airing and there has even been some glimpses of the sun as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet pulls north from Antarctica.

But as they head towards Sydney, the second stage of the leg from Cape Town is looking as tricky as the first stage was tough. The top five of the seven still on track are so close to each other that, in some cases, they can still see the opposition after racing for nearly two weeks.

"I am very surprised to be leading after the troubles we have had," said the Illbruck crewman Jamie Gale. "But I am even more surprised that over half the fleet is within spitting distance of each other after such rough conditions."

The final 10 days will see them rounding Eclipse Island, off Australia's south-west corner, and will signal an intense struggle for points as they turn the corner up the east coast. It will also signal the end of this leg for Keith Kilpatrick, the Californian who has a blocked intestine. He is now stable and will be treated in hospital rather than in an uncomfortable bunk.

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