19 Dec 2011

Sanya take lead on second leg of Volvo Ocean Race

6:25 am on 19 December 2011

The first ever sole Chinese entry in the Volvo Ocean Race has taken the lead on the second leg to Abu Dhabi after making a bold tactical decision which could put them in the path of a fearsome tropical storm in the Indian Ocean.

Team Sanya, skippered by New Zealand's Mike Sanderson, broke away from the six-boat fleet yesterday and headed north towards a tropical depression containing 50-knot headwinds.

For the gamble to pay off, Sanderson needs the intense low pressure system to move east allowing Sanya to 'thread the needle' between the storm and Madagascar.

The Groupama sailing team followed an equally extreme strategy 250 nautical miles to the south east to propel the French crew into second place.

The remaining boats are trying to shake themselves free of a transient wind zone that has slowed their progress for several days.

Puma Ocean Racing and Team New Zealand boat Camper were the first to breakthrough into steadier conditions and are in third and fourth place with Abu Dhabi Racing and Telefónica not far behind.