Sailing: Sanderson speeds over Equator in Volvo race

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The Independent Online

It was as if the Doldrums did not exist as Mike Sanderson, leading the opening leg of the Volvo Race from Vigo to Cape Town, swept through to cross the Equator in ABN Amro 1 yesterday.

Britain's Neal McDonald, 118 miles astern, jumped two places into second in the chasing trio, with Brasil 1 third, a further four miles behind and just one mile ahead of ABN 2.

There was even time for traditional King Neptune rituals for the four in Sanderson's 10-strong crew making the passage for the first time, among them the Briton Rob Greenhalgh. Such is the speed of these new 70-footers - more than 3,000 miles covered in the first eight days - the most optimistic estimates are predicting 16 days for the 6,400 miles to South Africa.

The top five Open 60 monohulls all finished inside the previous record time as Ellen MacArthur and co-skipper Roland Jourdain were pipped by just 35 minutes by Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron in the Transat Jacques Vabre from Le Havre to Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.

* The 32-year old former teacher Dee Caffari left Portsmouth in her modified 72-foot yacht, Aviva, yesterday, bound for the start line off Ushant of her bid to become the first woman to sail solo around the world the "wrong" way, westabout, against the prevailing winds and currents.

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