Sailing: Sanderson left with mixed emotions

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The Independent Online

While the weekend thousands flocked to Gunwharf Quays for a normal fun day out, there was a sombre air yesterday around the entrance to the pontoons which will be home to the Volvo Race fleet for the next 12 days.

A small tent has been put up for those wishing to sign a book of remembrance for Hans Horrevoets, the 32-year old crewman of ABN Amro 2, killed when he was washed overboard in the small hours of Thursday.

His team-mates on ABN Amro 1, skippered by Mike Sanderson, led the charge up a gale-strewn, hostile English Channel on the final few miles of the seventh leg from New York. But there were no plans for the sort of exuberant celebration they have been able to enjoy when winning five of the previous six legs.

Sanderson, however, does have much to celebrate. When he marries the British solo sailor Emma Richards on the Isle of Wight later this week, he will do so knowing he cannot be beaten for the overall winner's trophy. It will be just reward for a campaign that has been brilliantly managed from start to finish.

But his opposite number on ABN 2, skipper Sébastien Josse, faces a week of official inquiries, evidence to both the police and a coroner's court. There will also be a careful assessment of whether the crew wishes to continue racing on the eighth leg, which takes them back down the Channel, outside Ireland, over the top of Scotland and down the North Sea to Rotterdam, their home port. The final sprint is to Gothenburg, Volvo's home town.

One of the coroner's questions will be whether Horrevoets - the first to lose his life in the round the world race since 1989 but the fifth since the first race in 1973-74 - was wearing a safety harness and if it was clipped on to the jack line. If he was not, that is serious. If he was, and it broke, that will also be serious.

There is a close race for second between Paul Cayard's Pirates of the Caribbean, 3.5 points ahead of the luckless Bouwe Bekking's movistar. While Neal McDonald was heading for a race-best second over the line on Ericsson, probably in time for breakfast this morning, he had only a 12-mile advantage over Cayard, who will surely ask for time compensation for turning back, at the request of the race organisers, in case ABN 2 needed help.

Projected standings (after seven legs): 1 ABN Amro 1 (M Sanderson) 81pts; 2 Pirates of the Caribbean (P Cayard) 55; 3 movistar (B Bekking) 50; 4 Brasil 1 (T Grael) 48; 5 ABN Amro 2 (S Josse) 46.5; 6 Ericsson (N McDonald) 44.5; 7 Brunel (M Humphries) 4.0.