Assa jockeys for lead

Assa and illbruck neck and neck as Volvo boats head for Miami

Tuesday March 26th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Positions at 1000 GMT (position updates go hourly later this afternoon)
PS Yacht Latitude Longitude DTF DTL DTL-C SMG CMG
1 Illbruck 25 49.29N 077 31.08W 142 0 0 9.9 296
2 Assa Abloy 25 49.80N 077 30.36W 142 0 -1 10.0 294
3 Tyco 25 40.56N 077 20.96W 152 10 -2 11.1 255
4 SEB 25 42.72N 076 31.72W 196 54 -2 11.0 302
5 News Corp 25 29.24N 076 22.80W 206 64 -7 11.9 300
6 Amer One 25 19.84N 076 02.40W 226 84 -6 11.4 304
7 djuice 24 22.80N 073 51.16W 358 216 -2 10.2 302
8 Amer Too 24 17.28N 073 52.76W 369 218 -3 10.6 303
It's dawn here in Miami and 150 miles to the due east the Volvo Ocean Race leaders have passed through the Northeast Providence Channel between Nassau and Abaco and are making their last dash towards the finish line.

The situation is looking very good for Neal McDonald's Assa Abloy who at the 1000 position report had caught up with illbruckwith the two boats neck and neck, with Assa slightly to the north.

The reason for this state of affairs is due to the boats are now sailing in 20 knot easterly winds and illbruck have lost the use of the large genniker the very sail need for sailing the deep angles necessary to make the finish line. Finally it appears that illbruck might be getting a dose of their own medicine? The next few hours will tell.

Astern Tyco seems to be making better speed, but they were held up due to a torn spinnaker, which, like illbruck, was the very one they needed for the conditions and the sailmakers were scrabbling to get the sail fixed as quickly as possible (see Steve Hayles report on page two).

Conditions off Miami are balmy with some giant cumulo-nimbus clouds making a spectacular backdrop. For the competitors one of these clouds could be life or death on the way towards Miami, as if they play one wrong they may find themselves stuck in less wind. Fortunately such clouds have been prevalent since the boats left the southern hemisphere and the navigators are now well versed in dealing with them.

To add to the drama the boats also have to cross the Gulf Stream before they make Miami. This will push them north on their westerly passage towards the Florida coast, giving navigators some more tactical options to play with.

Exciting stuff...

See page two for Steve Hayles report from Tyco...

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