Sailing: Sanderson heads queue waiting to strike east

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The Independent Online

A 1,000-mile game of cat and mouse was unfolding at the front of the first leg of the Volvo Race from Vigo to Cape Town yesterday. The intensity increased as the front four closed up a little.

Mike Sanderson's lead in ABN Amro 1 had, on paper at least, been cut to 41 miles as Torben Grael's Brasil 1, on a slightly more easterly track, picked up extra bands of wind pressure.

Another 40 miles of deficit had Sébastien Josse in ABN 2 and Neal McDonald's Ericsson at level pegging. But with Josse in slightly more breeze, temporarily at least, he was hoping to move back into third place overnight. The solid feel of the band of trade winds above the big westerlies of the Roaring Forties, probably in the next 24 hours, will be the signal to cut east and head for the finish line under Table Mountain.

That is the big question keeping the navigators sweating below in the tropical conditions.

Toiling in fifth of the seven still racing, Australia's Brunel Sunergy suffered another dose of Murphy's Law. While all four ahead of them had swept through the Doldrums, Grant Wharington's crew seemed doomed to more equator-crossing humiliation.