illbruck steps out

Kostecki has opened the throttle despite icebergs and big seas

Sunday February 3rd 2002, Author: Peter Bentley, Location: Transoceanic
Volvo Ocean Race Position Report, Day 8, 0358 GMT
1 ILBK 4816 104 18.5 452 0 0
2 AONE 4846 104 16 413 30 13
3 NEWS 4848 91 17.3 410 32 17
4 TYCO 4853 93 17.3 433 37 16
5 DJCE 4882 100 15.8 393 66 17
6 AART 4889 104 16.2 406 73 14
7 TSEB 4893 96 14.8 375 77 26
8 ATOO 5034 97 17 385 218 17

In a move reminiscent of Paul Cayard's charge to the front aboard EF Language at a similar point in the last race, John Kostecki and the illbruck crew have stepped on the gas. In the 24 hours to 04.00GMT they sailed 452 miles. This represents 39 miles more than the next nearest boat which is perhaps unsurprisingly, Amer Sports One with Cayard aboard.

As a result of their long strong charge, illbruck have pulled through to the front and now lead by 30 miles. It is however clear from Kostecki's e-mail from the boat that putting miles between them and the fleet is a pretty hairy process. "We had some strong breeze today gusting to 40 knots," says Kostecki in his usual understated tone, before adding, "it is a bit much with the kite up at times, but you just ride it out."

Kostecki goes on the say that deciding which sail to keep up is a matter of riding the averages. "If the trend is up, over 35-40 knots, then it might be time to drop the kite," he says, "but are the other guys doing that?"

Not if what we hear from Amer Sports One is anything to go by. "It is all on down here at 57 degrees south," says Paul Cayard. "We have 30-36 knots of wind from 200-180 and boat speeds up to 30 knots, fairly tight angles so there is plenty of water in the face or on deck."

To some extent, illbruck has made her gains by sailing a freer course and has now moved from a mid fleet latitude to similar line as Amer Sports One. Furthest south, SEB has lost the most falling back some 26 miles in just six hours as compared to illbruck. On the other hand, Tyco on roughly the same line as the two leading boats put in the second best run of the 24 hour period at 433 miles.

The SEB crew on iceberg watch - they look nervous

The trend to get north or at least to stop going south has to a great extent been influenced by falling temperatures and the proximity of ice. Indeed Gurra Krantz attributes some of SEB's losses to the need for ice avoidance. "We have been zig zagging between the ice from time to time," he says. "They are small bits, about the size of a car, the ones that you cannot see on a radar. I am very happy the nights are short. It is very difficult to sail at full pace under these conditions, so we have slowed down a bit."

The awful fascination of the ice has also been occupying other crews and it seems the sea-life. "Yesterday morning Alby saw a whale about five metres from the boat just under the water," reported Nick White from aboard News Corp. "We would have been in a very serious situation if we had hit it as we were doing 20 knots. Icebergs somehow are much more scary and I have a faint suspicion that they don't go to sleep at night as some people have theorised."

Ice watch looks set to be a feature of the next few days. With the wind forecast to slowly free there is no pressure to make nothing and the big decision is when and how far to go south to start the approach to Cape Horn. To a great extent this will be controlled by the limit of the ice. More significantly, with the strong breezes forecast to continue and several crews clearly determined to keep the hammer down, what chance a new outright 24 hour monohull record?

Amer Sports Too are currently dropping around
70 miles per day on the leaders.

Page two.... John Kostecki reports from illbruck.
Page three.... Paul Cayard asks, Ice jacuzzi or fire hose?

Page four.... Steve Hayles reports 'Ice Everywhere'.

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