The great divide

200 miles currently separates News Corp from djuice across the Volvo's South Atlantic race track

Thursday February 14th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Positions at 1000
1 illbruck 42 00.20S 050 13.28W 1199 032 11.6 - -
2 Amer One 43 10.72S 050 30.60W 1270 353 10.2 71 +13
3 Tyco 42 57.32S 051 36.12W 1274 027 9.4 75 +12
4 djuice 43 48.92S 050 07.56W 1301 002 9.5 102 +12
5 Assa Abloy 43 23.24S 052 40.04W 1316 045 7.1 117 +28
6 News Corp 43 13.52S 053 49.24W 1329 035 6.1 130 +32
7 Amer Too 48 41.48S 058 45.60W 1716 025 9.9 517 +9
8 SEB 54 36.04S 073 44.40W 2498 091 7.5 1290 +26
At present there must be a nervous feeling at the bottom of John Kostecki's stomach, for although illbruck still have a 50+ mile cushion over the chasing pack, there is now a north west-south east divide of some 200 miles between the six boats at the front of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet. This is a dangerous position as it is possible that either one side or other of the course could pay and Kostecki will be looking over his shoulder watching the progress of the boats to see who is making the biggest gains.

This massive divide across the race track started because of Amer Sports One and djuice's decision to leave the Falkland Islands to port, while the rest of the boats took the shorter route to the west of this British outpost. But yesterday the boats got caught by a front which for News Corp, Assa and Tyco in the west, saw the wind veer to the south west forcing them to head up to the north to maintain speed.

Last night the three boats had swung back on course, but throughout this the immaculate illbruck, that crucial 60-80 miles ahead of them, had managed to stay on course in north westerlies ahead of the front.

After their diversion yesterday the boats to the west seems to have better pressure and remarkably Kevin Shoebridge's team on Tyco has come out smelling of roses and is now squeezing Amer Sports One, currently 70 miles to the east of Tyco, for second place.

In their traditional cover-all-eventualities tactics illbruck have now positioned themselves in the centre of the race track in the best position to cover, while djuice and Amer Sports One are also coming in from the right and there is a general convergence.

The forecast for the next few days is looking surprisingly good for the front runners, with an expressway of favourable south westerly winds pushing them north towards Rio, still some 1,200 miles away.

At present the boats are under still under the influence of a massive depression deep in the Southern Ocean but over the next 48 hours will pass into the influence of a high pressure system that is developing to the west of the boats over the south American continent. For the navigators it will be a case of closing a route which is a compromise between minimum distance and maximum wind.

Astern Amer Sports Too has had better breeze than the rest of the boats and has gained 31 nautical miles on race leader, illbruck, in the last six hours.

Despite Tyco gain yesterday was not a good day for Shoeby: "Personally I have had a shocking 24 hours. It started with a blocked toilet yesterday. This was followed by being drowned by 10 gallons of water coming in through a cockpit vent and landing on me in my bunk. Just after I had changed into my dry gear in the nav station, another five gallons came in that hatch; so I was soaked again. To finish the day, I found my gear bag floating in the bilge mixed with a cup of diesel."

see the next pages for the reports from the boats...

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