Breaking illbruck - 'The Rock'...

Seven teams continue trying to close the gap on leader illbruck...

Monday February 4th 2002, Author: John Greenland, Location: Transoceanic
Mark Rudiger reports from Assa Abloy 0100Z 4 February, 2300 miles to Cape Horn!
Icebergs to Port, Icebergs to Starboard, Snow Storms from behind.

Dear friends and fans, sorry we have been brief in our reporting lately, but between several sail changes daily, trying to work out the crazy weather and keep us safe, monitoring the radar for ice and plotting the hourly reports of ice sightings from the other boats, etc., etc., I have been using every other moment trying to catch a few winks. I must also confess I have been a little down about the lead the guys ahead have attained.

Just a couple of days ago, Tyco was just four miles off our port bow. We had to drop the main to replace a broken batten, or risk ripping it in the next blow. By the time we got it back up, they had sailed over the horizon and have turned that rather small gain into a fifty-mile lead!

The rich get richer. And down here, you don’t want to be poor, the rewards are small enough. It’s times like this, that it is hardest for me. To see the guys work night and day in subhuman hazardous conditions, and then to have to tell them we lost more miles on the leaders. Like coming home and telling your family you just lost your job.

But we have made some gains also, and know that the same conditions that allowed them to get ahead, may in the future give us an opportunity to catch up again, so we fight on harder than ever.

Meanwhile, I just came down from helping peel from the masthead reacher [spinnaker] to the runner as we are getting lifted by the next mother of a low approaching from the west. I'm starting to get the feeling back in my feet and fingers. I was trimming for a while when it started to snow and blow. I hadn't really dressed for the occasion, but our stand in bowman for Jason, Josh Alexander, was up the mast clearing halyards and doing a rig check, so I was obliged to hang in there. Good time for check, since the winds are going to get up to 40 knots within 24 hrs.

There are four major baptisms I can think of for the devout ocean racer.
1 Crossing the equator for the first time,
2 Rounding the Horn,
3 Sailing in a snow storm in the Southern Ocean, and
4 Sailing through Ice packs in the middle of the night.

You get them all in Volvo Ocean Race and three of them here on this leg. Josh just put an extra topping on that by doing it 90 feet up in the air, going down growing waves at 20 plus knots. Just before that, when we were changing spinnakers, he had released the sock off the new one, which always falls in the water, and the bowman has to pull in all 70 plus feet while blasting along. This time, the end somehow inflated forming a small sea anchor first pulling the whole sock out of his hands, and then fetching up on the pull line, which is tied to the spinnaker bag. When it reached the end of that, the strap tying the bag to the bow parted and Josh went surfing down the deck from the bow to the shrouds at about 15mph in spite of him digging in his spurs as hard as he could.

Fortunately the bag jammed at the shrouds and three of us were able to wrestle the escapee back aboard. Magnus broke out laughing hysterically as his morbid sense of humor recounted the size of Josh's eyeballs, as he must have been calculating multiple escape plans in the matter of a few seconds. I guess you have to have a morbid sense of humor to be down here to begin with.

So it looks like our pace is going to pick up from here for a couple of days, and more unnerving nights blasting down freezing mountainous seas hoping there isn't a stray chunk of ice waiting at the bottom. The only crazier people on the planet are the single handler's that come tearing through here.

Page Three... Richard Clarke discusses summer houses
Page Four... Lisa McDonald - illness and relentless cold

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