Glorious sailing, boring racing

The blast reaching drag race north west to Barbuda continues

Thursday March 21st 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Positions at 1000
PS Yacht Latitude Longitude DTF DTL DTL-C SMG CMG
1 illbruck 14 20.92N 057 36.80W 1470 0 0 13.4 303
2 Assa Abloy 14 05.12N 057 25.56W 1488 18 3 13 306
3 Tyco 13 58.36N 057 29.08W 1490 20 3 13 304
4 SEB 12 49.28N 056 03.04W 1598 128 6 12.8 296
5 Amer One 12 45.24N 055 25.40W 1629 159 10 11.8 305
6 News Corp 12 26.12N 055 09.60W 1653 183 10 12 299
7 Amer Too 12 22.56N 054 56.44W 1665 195 8 12 304
8 djuice 11 49.36N 054 35.04W 1703 233 5 12.7 306
Wind chart for 48 hours time

Illbruck is up to her old tricks again. You pull out a lead, through a combination of good routing, more concentrated sailing and better boat speed...and then consolidate it. We have already seen this in spectacular fashion on the previous leg into Brazil where illbruck led from half way across the Southern Ocean. This leg it has been harder for the German team to make the break and they have only been able to squeeze distance out of their competitors inch by inch. So this morning they have gone from being 11 miles to 18 miles in front of Assa and Tyco, who continue to be locked in battle for second place.

If tactically the racing is not that interesting at the moment as the boats reach north west to Barbuda in moderate north easterly Trade Winds and with few passing lanes, then the sailing is some of the most enjoyable on offer. The 20 knot Trade Winds take the edge off the otherwise balmy Caribbean conditions, even if the point of sail makes for a wet ride.

"Conditions on deck are wet and warm. You can either wear wet weather gear and sweat or not and get wet." reported illbruck's Mark Christensen yesterday. "Both options are causing skin problems for our crew. I have been delving into the medical kit to check out the latest spot developed, but so far, nothing worse than a little heat rash or gunwale bum."

The good news for the race is that condition looks to go light after the boats have 'rounded' Barbuda (in fact all that is required after passing the Caribbean island is a 4deg course shift). This should cause a concertinaing of the fleet, allowing the tailenders to catch up and possibly restart the match race for first place between the three front runner.

"It looks like more trade-wind sailing until we get to our first turning mark, Barbuda. Then things could deteriorate for the leaders," forecasts Assa navigator Mark Rudiger. "The guys behind must be salivating at the latest forecasts. The kind the leaders hate, and the stragglers love. Variable lighter winds, likely weak frontal passage, unsettled weather. The good news for us is that the course narrows up with fewer lanes to gain leverage. But if they can close in enough, it won’t take much."

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