Neck and neck

Atlantic three-way match race taking place at front of Volvo fleet

Wednesday March 13th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Road rage on the high seas - Mark Rudiger reports from Assa Abloy

The last 36 hours, we have been weaving all over the Ocean trying to hold off illbruck and Tyco, while dodging squalls. Anyone watching Virtual Spectator would think either we were all drunk or there is a severe case of road rage going on.

We had been doing well until last night, finally a squall lined up just the wrong way and Tyco slipped by. Since then illbruck and us have been going from luffing match to reaching match. All the while Tyco and Amer Sports One gaining on sailing a straight line. But for us now, the priority is to hold off illbruck as long as possible.

Lately we have been putting a little looser cover on them to leeward, hoping to straighten out our course and hold back the gains from the other boats. Illbruck is now just a few boat lengths to leeward and Tyco a few boats ahead to leeward. Just another 4000 miles to hold them off. I feel just about as stressed as I do after racing to work in a rough morning commute.

At least for the moment we're staying far enough apart not to hit each other, but I'm sure Kostecki and gang have been muttering some nasty words about us.

Meanwhile, the squalls have dissipated and we're reaching in steady trades again. The breeze is helping against the heat, which is good since things are plenty heated as they are!

Looking ahead, the wind should hold for another 48 hours and lift a little, then we all start festering over how close to round the top of Brazil, and how to get through the Doldrums. This of course is the Ocean racer's worst nightmare, especially if you're in the lead, unless you come out in the lead, which is the Ocean racer's dream.

Speaking of which, think I'll try and catch a nap between all the noise of the sheets going in and out, along with the calls from the Nav station on the gains or losses on the radar.

Cheers for now

Rudi, ASSA ABLOY RACING TEAM

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