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Volvo Ocean Race / Leg 5

ASSA ABLOY Elbows illbruck

mardi 26 mars 2002Information Volvo Ocean Race

Last night was tough for the German illbruck syndicate. The team, having led for over a week, has seen its respectable 15nm lead shaved down over night by Neal McDonald‚s Swedish entry ASSA ABLOY in the last 24 hours. With over a hundred miles remaining to the finish the question is - can Kostecki’s previously untouchable team be broken ?

It is believed illbruck‚s rapid loss of lead is due to missing their light wind masthead gennaker, crucial in the winds currently established across the track. Unfortunately a line of rain clouds hit the team causing the breeze to gust and shift. Two days ago, during a gybe the wind edged over the limit of 24 knots and the kite was shredded and lost overboard This left a gaping hole in their downwind inventory.

Kevin Shoebridge’s Team Tyco, which has rarely been more than three miles apart from ASSA ABLOY for the majority of the leg, has also dropped slightly off the pace. They lost the use of their heavy air masthead spinnaker at a key time allowing ASSA ABLOY to pass them to windward, however they were fortunate enough to salvage the pieces. They were able to fix the sail in a five hour repair job, but soon after resetting it, the sail was damaged again, as Steve Hayles reported : "The bad news was that in yet another squally cloud we had the same repaired chute up and once again it let go. We were stuck with no spinnaker for a short while at a very crucial point in the cloud (the bit were you get loads of wind in front of it). It meant, although ASSA ABLOY was only a short distance in front, that we got caught up in the cloud quite badly. This, combined with the fact that we have been forced to sail with another spinnaker, which is designed for a very different purpose and is much smaller, has meant that for now at least they have opened out a lead of seven miles."

The three leaders have already cleared the Providence Channel, the final ’mark’ of the course, leaving them with a 130nm drag race into America. Kostecki’s men will be hoping for the wind to increase or shift while McDonald’s ASSA ABLOY team will be looking for slightly lighter airs. As the boats approach the shore the wind is more likely to drop, but with sea breezes and land effects coming into play it’s going to be a tense and tricky time for all those on board.

Behind the titanic battle at the front of the fleet another duel is in full swing. When Grant Dalton‚s Amer Sports One was hit by lightning the yacht lost the majority of her navigational equipment and also got trapped under a windless black cloud. This gave Jez Fanstone’s Team News Corp the chance they were looking for, and in just a matter of hours Fanstone was several miles ahead. This was only the beginning of their rampage up the fleet, since then News Corp has pulled to within 10 miles of fourth placed Team SEB and is still rapidly closing down the gap. Currently averaging nearly an extra knot of boat speed SEB’s fourth place could well be in jeopardy over the next 12 hours.

Dalts has also been closing on Team SEB, but with 30nm separating the two boats it is unlikely we will see Amer Sports One climbing the leader board any further. Though having said that, this is yacht racing, and as we are witnessing at the front of the fleet ’ anything can happen in the closing stages of a leg in the Volvo Ocean Race Volvo Ocean Race #VolvoOceanRace .

At the back of the fleet Lisa McDonald‚s Amer Sports Too this morning slipped back into last place for the first time in a week. From the looks of things on Virtual Spectator Knut Frostad‚s djuice passed just a whisker to windward of McDonald and her all-women crew. This was devastating news for the girls, no doubt spurring them on to push harder still to try and regain seventh (and not last) place. While putting all they have into holding off djuice, they were hindered by technical problems. "It all started with what we thought to be a minor fuel problem - getting it to the generator. It has turned into a potentially serious situation (fortunately now under control) which has totally disrupted the watch system, left us without use of our generator, having to use our emergency fuel supply in this situation, not knowing if we would have any electronics or fresh water at all on a daily basis, lack of communication Communication #Communication with the outside world and a shattered race crew using every ounce of energy to battle the fire breathing dragons trying to beat us while we are down", wrote Lisa McDonald this morning, after regaining power for the computers and the Satcom C.

The race into Miami is likely to be bitter. Dalts sure won‚t give up his place to Fanstone and co-skipper Ross Field without a decent fight. And Lisa McDonald’s Amer Sports Too will no doubt keep a pot of coffee on the go and push through sleep deprivation in an attempt to pass the pink dragons.

Volvo Ocean Race Position Report, Day 18, 1000 GMT

PS Yacht Latitude Longitude DTF CMG SMG TFHR DTL DTL-C ETA PO
- 1 ILBK 25 49.28N 077 31.08W 142 296 9.9 256 0 0 26/03/02 22:48 37
- 2 AART 25 49.80N 077 30.36W 142 294 10 275 0 -1 26/03/02 22:52 27
- 3 TYCO 25 40.56N 077 20.96W 152 255 11.1 264 10 -2 26/03/02 23:46 24
- 4 TSEB 25 42.72N 076 31.72W 196 302 11 282 54 -2 27/03/02 03:42 17
- 5 NEWS 25 29.24N 076 22.80W 206 300 11.9 285 64 -7 27/03/02 04:39 23
- 6 AONE 25 19.84N 076 02.40W 226 304 11.4 271 84 -6 27/03/02 06:31 25
- 7 DJCE 24 22.80N 073 51.16W 358 302 10.2 239 216 -2 27/03/02 18:31 19
- 8 ATOO 24 17.28N 073 52.76W 360 303 10.6 241 218 -3 27/03/02 18:33 8

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