Sailing: Sanderson rallies after fire on board

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The Independent Online

A bolt dropped between the batteries and conductive carbon fibre started the fire. No one was injured, the fire was controlled, and the navigator Stan Honey, something of an electrical whiz, fixed a burnt-out wiring system. Sanderson did not have to stop at all.

Pushing up to third place, however, British skipper Neal McDonald earlier had to stop Ericsson after a problem with a sail led to some rope being wrapped around the keel and rudder.

The Spanish entry movistar diverted to Portimao, southern Portugal, to make an initial assessment of damage to both a hydraulic keel ram and an interior bulkhead. Options include shipping the boat to Cape Town for repair.

Already in Lisbon, Paul Cayard is assessing keel box damage on the Disney-backed The Black Pearl, with a strange silence from the team on the problems.

Grant Wharington's Brunel Sunergy is heading for Madeira, where repairs will be made to an attachment between the boom and the mast and attempts will be made to improve steering that is posing difficulties over 25 knots.

The five-times Olympic medallist Torben Grael was hanging on to a slender lead from a rapidly advancing Sanderson with the second ABN Amro boat, skippered by Sébastien Josse, fourth.

Josse's usual rivals are competing in the Transat Jacques Vabre from Le Havre to Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, where Italy's Giovanni Soldini, partnered by Vittorio Malingri doublehanded in the 60-foot trimaran TIM, capsized 400 miles south-west of Dakar in big winds when the autopilot failed. Both were unhurt.

In the 60-foot monohulls, Ellen MacArthur and Roland Jourdain's ding-dong, 900 miles west of Sierra Leone, with Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron swung back the Frenchmen's way by seven miles.

With 1,500 miles to go, Mike Golding and Dominique Wavre were 125 miles behind in fourth.