Fastnet Race: Team Sanya level-pegging with Groupama and Abu Dhabi

Sunset sailing for Mike Sanderson’s Team Sanya - 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race

It's Day 2 of the Rolex Fastnet Race and underdogs Team Sanya are neck and neck with favourites Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Groupama Sailing Team after going it alone tactically overnight.

The former Telefonica Blue, skippered by 2005/2006 Volvo Ocean race winning skipper, Mike Sanderson, held a small lead over the two newest generation Volvo Ocean race yachts, as the second day dawned.

As the three yachts sailed across the Irish sea, speeds picked up to the high teens early 20kts mark, and Groupama and Abu Dhabi to the south of Team Sanya caught up the few miles of deficit.

Having passed Lizard Point, Sanya became the first team to tack northwards, with Abu Dhabi and Groupama keeping a south-westerly course, trying to make the most of the SW wind that will come in the next few hours.

0900 GMT: The situation is as it's been since Sanya broke formation from the other boats overnight. Mike Sanderson's team have the lead, with Groupama breathing down the neck of Abu Dhabi after the two new boats took a more southerly route, which could of course pay off later but might turn out to have been an embarrassing error.

Groupama (Franck Cammas) - Rolex Fastnet Race start 14 August, 2011 Cowes Isle of Wight

While we wait for the picture to become clearer, we've received an update from Groupama MCM Yann Riou, who has not been very impressed with his own cooking.

'We had quite a few issues (...) and I won’t speak too long about the meal we took from Portsmouth, which was supposed to make our life easier and better – uncooked rice swimming in a concentrate of mediocrity!'

0630 GMT: We've just received the latest news from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, with MCM Nick Dana reporting they are just coming up on Landsend. Abu Dhabi are still neck-and-neck with Groupama, while Sanya tacked earlier and lead on the positions chart but Nick doesn't seem to think that is significant.

'Considering the race is looking only to last just over a day and a half for the 70’s, the crew will be working at full noise to keep the lead,' he says.

0430 GMT: Abu Dhabi's state-of-the-art racing yacht Azzam really caught the eye on day one, and not just because of its looks. The boat, developed by Farr Yacht Design, tore away from the start and built up a two-mile lead over Groupama 4, another new generation Volvo Open 70, with just over 500 of the 608-nautical mile course to go.

Jules Salter (left), navigator and Ian Walker, skipper Abu Dhabi

At 0400 GMT, the two rivals were neck and neck with only a mile between them in 13 knots of breeze. The fleet passed Start Point in the night at 0210, making 13 knots towards the Eddystone Rock and were south of the Lizard at 0430.

By this time, a new element had entered the game -- the high pressure system.

Having passed Lizard Point, Sanya became the first team to tack northwards, with Abu Dhabi and Groupama keeping a south-westerly course, trying to make the most of the SW wind that will come in the next few hours.

Which will turn out to be best decision?

To read more see www.volvooceanrace.com