Gales on the nose...

The Volvo Ocean Race fleet power through gale force winds...

Wednesday February 13th 2002, Author: John Greenland, Location: Transoceanic
Volvo Ocean Race position report 0359GMT
1 illbruck 1,548 11.3 - -
2 Amer One 1,598 11.7 50 -3
3 Tyco 1,617 10.9 69 +2
4 djuice 1,629 12.2 81 -5
5 News Corp 1,636 10.6 88 +1
6 Assa Abloy 1,639 11.4 91 +1
7 Amer Too 2,098 7.5 550 +19
8 SEB 2,696 7.3 1148 +27
    The competition at the front of the fleet in the Volvo Ocean Race is hotting up as the teams swerve round the Falkland Islands in building headwinds.

    John Kostecki's illbruck Challenge continues to power toward the Rio de Janeiro finish line some 50 miles ahead of Kevin Shoebridge's second placed Team Tyco. Though there are small gains and loses the chasing teams seem unable to make a dent in this lead.

    Out to the east Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One and Knut Frostad's djuice are the only two in this front pack continuing to knock several miles off on every sked. Though djuice is still some 81 miles behind the leader they are now only 12 miles behind third placed Tyco. Originally the winds were forecast to hit the easterly positioned boats harder on the nose than those to the west, however this does not seem to be stopping the two renegade teams.

    With djuice's current speed advantage over Tyco the next sched could show the two boats neck and neck, jostling for that all important podium finish. But, the teams still have another 1,500 miles of racing before any of these results can be set in stone - let's not forget, this is yacht racing.

    It was an interesting night for the four teams to the west of the Falkland Islands. The veering wind knocked the boats below their preferred courses, forcing them to dive through a passage just 1.5 miles wide. This produced some particularly hairy conditions. "Nick [White], Steve [Cotton] and myself were huddled in the nav station while the crew were on deck trying to keep the boat under control and obviously thinking that we were bloody idiots for taking us thru such a place," explained News Corp's co-skipper Ross Field.

    Unfortunately the building headwinds were working against the strong, 7-8 knot, tidal flow through this gate making for a particularly rough ride - as Neal McDonald's ASSA ABLOY also discovered. "The boat bounced around like a bucking bronco, 18 tonnes of boat being tossed around like a cork. In the middle of this we had to tack  - a terrifying procedure," said McDonald.

    In the next 24 hours the six leading teams will again reunite as they make their final strategical decision regarding the final stretch into the Brazilian city. As the teams approach the South American coast windshifts will be more and more difficult to predict. With such close racing the door is wide open for some big gains and loses before the leg is over.

    illbruck Challenge 'buzzed' by RAF

    Page two... Neal McDonald goes for a quick swim...
    Page three... Ross Field white water rafting...

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