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illbruck extends (again) as the fleet charge toward Miami...

Sunday March 24th 2002, Author: John Greenland, Location: Transoceanic
From on board Team SEB Jon Gunderson writes...

Tension is high on board SEB as we sail into the area of lighter breezes north of Antigua and Barbuda. 70 miles behind the leading boats and only 35 ahead of News Corp and Amer Sports One, we stand to lose before we gain if there is a big compression of the fleet over the next day or so.

Skeds become a nervous time as everyone knows to expect a loss - it is just a matter of how much.  So far so good, as we have been pleasantly surprised, losing only a little to our two chasers and making good gains on the leaders. Downwind sailing in light breezes is making the smoothest ride of the trip so far, the ‘coffin’ has been vacated for the time being and we are all in the more comfortable bunks up forward.

A trivia game to kill time while waiting for the latest sked was dominated by Marcel [van Triest] - apparently this is always the case - and the rest of us off-watch were left to battle it out for the minor places. About the only highlight was when Gle Kessels lost control of his laughter and nearly stopped breathing, his head went an unhealthy crimson colour and for a while we were concerned he was going to explode.

Passing land again during the day was nice - the bowman reckons they can relax again as we are in ‘helicopter distance’. We saw a few fishing boats and heard plenty of traffic on the VHF [Very High Frequency radio] but otherwise no real human contact. At least we can now be absolutely certain that we are not just sailing around in circles on starboard tack.

We are around 1000 miles from Miami - nearly there, strange to think that the next leg is only 850 in total - a different game all together than the one we have been playing for the last few months.

We are sailing hard and hoping to hang onto our position over the next few days and make it safely into port - see you there for a cold beer.

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