illbruck extends...

John Kostecki's illbruck Challenge extends her lead...

Monday February 11th 2002, Author: John Greenland, Location: Transoceanic
Mark Rudiger and ASSA ABLOY's special delivery...
Once again, the closer one gets to land, the faster things speed up. We set ourselves up well against the fleet to optimize the north west shift and pressure coming into the Horn. We had a perfect lay line from over 350 miles out and gained enough to now have News Corp just abeam of us.

I had just woken up Neal [McDonald], one hour out to discuss the pre-arranged airdrop of a new handset for our Sat B. Just then I heard the plane overhead and Steve calling on the Radio. He informed me that he had only 12 minutes of fuel left and if we wanted the part, he would have to drop it in ten minutes! Holy Cow, all hands on deck! Staysail down, tee up headsail, clear leeward runner, get someone in a survival suit, spinnaker down, get the next spinnaker ready, the plane makes it’s last pass and drops the bag perfectly a quarter mile ahead.

Neal homes in on it by bearing, but it’s a dark blue bag and hard to spot. Chuny [Roberto Bermudez de Castro] starts yelling something in broken Spanish and pointing. Neal heads down a little and then rounds up. We don’t have anyone ready in survival suit, so I run to the leeward shrouds in hopes of grabbing it. Can’t see it, everyone’s yelling, Neal bears off and yells for the spinnaker up, I’m confused, but then I see Sydney [Gavignet] with a dripping wet bag in his hands and everyone high-fiving him. Son of a gun if he didn’t snag the bag from the stern! Well done. Kite up and off we go.

Ten minutes later we see a spinnaker coming off the beach on starboard at us. News Corp, we caught them. Now Stu [Wilson] informs us this would be the best time to fix broken battens in the main. With heavy upwind sailing forecast tonight and tomorrow, we can't argue. Down comes the main, patches on some tears, find broken batten mast fitting and fix, replace battens, main back up.

Then come all the media calls, photo's, video, whew, what a morning, and to be sailing past the Horn once again during daylight with the sun out, how lucky can you get?

It was amazing how, within an hour of passing the Horn, the wind let up, the sun warmed up, the sunnies [sun glasses] and sun block came out, and everyone seemed cheerier.

It’s almost as if Mother Nature said 'OK, you’ve proved yourselves, I’ll let you off the hook for the time being, here’s some nice weather for a few hours.'

Now, as the Horn fades away, the clock starts to slow down again and we settle into the next challenge: Try and pick off some more boats in the next 2200 or so miles of tricky sailing. Tyco and Amer Sport One are only 15 and 20 miles ahead, nothing in this game.

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