Sailing: 'Moose' goes on the loose to win speed stampede
Tuesday 27 December 2005
A sixth species joined the big five stars of South Africa's game reserves - elephant, lion, rhino, leopard and buffalo - when "Moose", also known as Mike, Sanderson took full advantage of some wild conditions in Table Bay to win the inshore test of the Volvo Race in Cape Town yesterday. As he had been last in the opening inshore in Spain, the commanding victory was especially sweet, the maximum points extending his overall lead in the race.
The locals had given what they rightly expected to be a blowy, bumpy race track a wide berth, leaving the 30-mile course to a fleet restored to its full strength of seven. The Spanish entry, movistar, and the Disney-backed Pirates of the Caribbean returned from surgery following damage which put them out of the action less than 24 hours into the first leg from Vigo.
All of them decided to reduce sail even before the start, not least the Australians, down to nine crew instead of 11 as Grant Wharington and the navigator, Matt Humphries, were on Sydney to Hobart duty. But the 70-footers were all still screaming downwind at nearly 25 knots as Sanderson, with his tactician, Tomasso Chieffi, on ABN Amro 1, established a lead of 40 seconds on the first upwind leg with his stablemates on ABN 2, skippered by Sébastien Josse, battling for second.
It then became a test of control as Paul Cayard's problem-handling Pirates lost out to Bouwe Bekking's movistar, who was second ahead of Josse and Torben Grael in Brasil 1.
Britain's Neal McDonald, handing tactical control on Ericsson to the American John Kostecki with his unwell navigator Steve Hayles left ashore, could not emulate his win in Spain, gear problems dumping him to sixth behind Cayard.
Perfect conditions gave a sling-shot start to the Sydney to Hobart race, the fleet making fast progress in the early stages of the 628-mile classic. First out of harbour and into a placid Pacific was Bob Oatley's 98ft Wild Oats, with the triple Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie as one of the principal helmsmen and Adrienne Cahalan back in the groove as one of the navigators after her abrupt departure from Brazil's Volvo entry.
Early hopes of a challenge to the record books were tempered with a warning from the weather expert Roger Badham that the fleet of 85 could run into light airs on the second afternoon.
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