Sailing: Sanderson quadruples advantage

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The Independent Online

The rich grew even richer yesterday as Mike Sanderson more than quadrupled his lead on the second leg of the Volvo Race from Cape Town to Melbourne.

Last night, he was over 200 miles ahead in ABN Amro 1 of his nearest rival, Paul Cayard, in Pirates of the Caribbean, and travelling at 21.5 knots compared with the American's 16.

Sanderson, the overall leader, was within 650 miles of taking the first stage points, half a point per place of the seven entries, at the Kerguelen Islands to extend his overall lead and also to be able to dive further south.

Precautions taken by the organisers to keep the fleet north of any ice danger have put the yachts in much lighter winds, as well, now, as constant rain and increasingly cold fog. "We have been averaging a sail change every couple of hours," says ABN 2's navigator Simon Fisher. "The net result is a boat full of tired, wet people."

Fisher and skipper Sébastien Josse are locked in a battle for second with Pirates but well clear of Spain's movistar, which was 280 miles behind Sanderson, with all three doing the same speed. Still finding waiting zones are the Australians, almost 500 miles behind.

As Neal McDonald's Ericsson was being loaded on to a ship for repair in Melbourne, making final preparations to rejoin the race from South Africa tomorrow was Brasil 1, skippered by Torben Grael. Given the much slower leg times which the routing rule is producing, he should be there just a few days before the next inshore race on 4 February.