A return to sanity

The pace has slowed for the Volvo fleet after recent record breaking progress

Wednesday May 1st 2002, Author: Peter Bentley, Location: Transoceanic
Position report at 04.00 1 May 2002

1 illbruck 39 09.68N 059 10.80W 2585 84 18 464 0 0 49
2 Tyco 39 05.48N 059 36.84W 2606 83 17 461 21 3 34
3 Assa Abloy 38 54.16N 059 40.00W 2610 83 17 454 25 4 40
4 SEB 38 42.68N 059 50.80W 2621 90 17 444 36 9 26
5 News Corp 38 40.28N 059 54.76W 2625 91 16 440 40 12 35
6 Amer One 38 59.24N 060 01.00W 2625 79 17 446 40 3 35
7 djuice 38 42.40N 060 38.36W 2657 85 16 416 72 11 23
8 Amer Too 38 52.32N 061 56.36W 2715 70 14 388 130 20 10

After the excitement of the earlier record breaking speeds things have started to quieten down a little. The fleet has now slowed to an average of under 18 knots. Still fast, but slower than the earlier average speed of just over 20 knots yesterday.

The reduction in speed is due to a steady decrease in the wind, with some boats now experiencing as little as 10 knots of breeze. This will be making living conditions onboard uncomfortable, as the sea state is still "rough," according to Amer Sports One navigator, Roger Nilson.

Aside from the excitement of a new 24 hour run record, the last 24 hours has taken its toll around the fleet, with everyone pushing hard. Amer Sport One, djuice and SEB all pushed a fraction too hard and have been frantically mending blown out sails, trying to get them back in good order.

Amidst the damage, illbruck has remained serene increasing her lead once again. She is now 21 miles ahead of Tyco in second place, who in turn is still managing to squeeze ahead and gain a little more distance over Assa Abloy.
Sounding remarkably relaxed at the start of his 24 hour record run Kostecki pointed out in an e-mail from the boat that such high speed sailing does come at a price. "The combination of 2-3 knot currents and top reaching speeds has allowed us to average these top speeds. Of course you have to pay the price...it is very wet on deck, constant fire hose spray. At least the water is very warm, around 24C at the moment."

Although the wind is going light for the leaders, there is plenty more breeze lining up further down the track and it seems likely that the front group will get to this at least as soon as the trailing pack. "The tactical choices are pretty wide open soon with a complex weather forecast and the Gulf Stream much harder to follow with many associated eddies and its own twist and turns," says Steve Hayles from onboard Tyco.

Keeping in the Gulf Stream will not be easy. Unlike the weather which is well charted in the North Atlantic, the Stream is not. As always, Mark Rudiger sums it up well. "The Stream is an amazing beast and even with tons of all the latest high tech data, it still has a mind of it's own, just like the other sides of Mother Nature. But with over 3000 miles to go, we can't get too worked up about it."

Expect the fleet to open up more as the weekend approaches. Lack of speed now could prove costly by the time La Rochelle hoves into view.

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