Sailing: Sanderson's western adventure leapfrogs Grael to take lead

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Faith and determination were rewarded yesterday as Mike Sanderson swept into the lead, in ABN Amro 1, of the first leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. He had played the western side of the track south to 260 miles west of the Cape Verde islands and his patience was rewarded with a 35-mile jump over the previous leader, now second-placed Brasil 1, skippered by five-times Olympic medallist Torben Grael.

Four miles behind in third, having joined the game plan into which top New Zealand navigator Mike Quilter had made a major input, was Sébastien Josse in ABN 2, leaving Britain's Neal McDonald, in Ericsson, another four miles back in fourth.

Grant Wharington's Melbourne-based Brunel Sunergy was 681 miles behind having stopped for repairs. The next hurdle for the leading quartet is the quickest way through the Doldrums.

The final stages of the Transat Jacques Vabre, from Le Havre to Salvador da Bahia, have become a two-horse race. Ellen MacArthur, with co-skipper Roland Jourdain, are running out of time to grind down Jean-Pierre Dick and Loick Peyron with about 300 miles to the finish. Both are on a record-breaking schedule, but the hope for MacArthur is that she will be able to play the trickier breezes close to the coast of Brazil to snatch victory.

Jean le Cam and Kito Pavant are third, with Mike Golding and Dominique Wavre looking booked for fourth, with a 40-mile cushion over Brian Thompson and Will Oxley in fifth.