The steady march of Torben Grael's Brasil 1 narrowed the gap yesterday on the leaders of leg one of the Volvo Race from Vigo to Cape Town, Mike Sanderson's ABN Amro 1. The deficit was down to 16 miles as the earlier decision of Brasil 1's Australian navigator, Adrienne Cahalan, to take a slightly more easterly track south again paid dividends.
From a lead of over 100 miles since being first of the five boats still racing to round the points-scoring gate of Isla de Noronha, Sanderson has seen his advantage shrink during four days of sailing south. He was doing just 10 knots yesterday; Grael, in better breeze, was making 17. Both yachts are anxiously considering when they can safely turn east and avoid the light-wind trap which is the South Atlantic high-pressure zone.
Sanderson's younger brethren on ABN 2 made significant gains as Sébastien Josse overhauled Neal McDonald's Ericsson to retake third place. A disappointed McDonald said: "We have been stuck at wind angle and wind speed that our current sail inventory does not cope well with." McDonald expects to make the turn for the Cape in the next 24 hours.
Nearly 800 miles behind, Brunel Sunergy, which had to stop for repairs in Madeira, crossed the Equator.