There is a clear leader in leg 1 of the Volvo ocean race - ABN AMRO ONE. The last two days they have sprinted into a 100 mile lead, but how?
Two reasons spring to mind. Firstly by gybing later they paid the price of greater distance but gained the prize of higher pressure. If you look at the stats on Virtual Spectator at 17:00 on 16/11/05 the average wind speed for the ABN twins was around 18 knots while Brazil, then in the lead, it was only around 11 knots. And ABN-1 used that to boost their VMG by a couple of knots, taking the lead away over that night.
And to just kept on going. For there was more than just positioning as ABN-2 at dusk was side by side but by dawn fell back to last position. Its sister ship seems a bit of a flyer, maybe using the new technology better, or having used well the chance to train and test ideas against her twin.
Bad news for the other competitors. They might hope ABN-1 get bogged down in the doldrums, but as the Transat Jacque Vabre showed, these can be transitioned quickly at the moment, and the Volvo fleet seems to be heading for a similar crossing point that got Ellen and the Open 60s through with so few problems.
But there's still a long way to go and the route past Fernando de Noronha when many will remember the last time and the old saying of if in doubt head south. Or less prosaically head south to avoid the St Helena high.