Sailing: Sanderson sees lead reduced

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The Independent Online

Stuck in a hole with no easy way out, the overall leader Mike Sanderson was powerless for a time yesterday to prevent his ABN Amro stablemates on the second boat, skippered by Sébastien Josse, pushing him into second place on leg two of the Volvo Race, from Cape Town to Melbourne.

"Even in hindsight there is nothing we could have done differently," he said. "It's just that the guys behind, due to being later getting into it, had taken a more easterly course and escaped the worst of the light winds."

The deficit was never more than about seven miles and Sanderson then picked up more breeze to push him back into the lead - but one of only nine miles, down from over 350.

Bouwe Bekking in Spain's movistar and Paul Cayard in Pirates of the Caribbean also threatened to slip past at one stage.

The leading four boats are expected to round the scoring gate of Eclipse Island off the south-west corner of Australia today. The boats then face a difficult 1,300 miles to the finish, across the Great Australian Bight. Despite the warmer weather offering an opportunity to dry out there is a forecast of upwind work into 20-knot easterlies for the early stages.

That may persuade Bekking to go into Albany to make repairs to the port hydraulic ram which controls his keel, after six 10mm stainless steel bolts sheered. The Dutch skipper has also had problems with hydraulic failure on a strut which controls the mainsail boom.