Bouncing off ice...

News Corp first to hit iceberg...

Tuesday February 5th 2002, Author: John Greenland, Location: Transoceanic
Volvo Ocean Race Position Report, Day 9, 1000 GMT
Update 1010:

Yacht Latitude Longitude DTF CMG SMG DTL DTL-C
1 Illbruck 58 48.28S 122 31.12W 3996 103 17.7 0 0
2 Amer One 59 44.64S 123 51.32W 4017 101 20 21 -14
3 Tyco 59 07.72S 124 24.08W 4045 102 19.9 49 -12
4 Assa Abloy 60 18.92S 126 38.84W 4086 106 19.6 90 -12
5 djuice 60 31.88S 127 09.20W 4096 106 18.8 100 -6
6 News Corp 59 11.60S 126 14.08W 4097 71 15.1 101 34
7 SEB 60 18.48S 129 16.00W 4159 110 17.8 163 -2
8 Amer Too 58 55.56S 134 44.56W 4345 76 14.7 349 34
"I am bloody worried. This is dangerous," write co-skipper Ross Field last night. "There are icebergs everywhere. There are growlers floating nowhere near the bergs. We hit a small berg whilst doing 21 knots."

Though the boats are fitted with radars and crew members are permenantly on the look out for ice when travelling at high speeds the boats don't have a lot of time to avoid collisions. "I was steering and all I felt was a loud crash on the hull and then the rudder. The guys below then rushed into the bow and checked the interior but we appeared to be ok," continued Field shortly after the incident.

It's hard to imagine the conditions facing the teams, however Field does a good job of filling in some of the gaps, "At one stage, thank god during daylight, we were charging thru hunks of ice. I had a man on look out and directing me thru the ice - we brushed when we passed some small bits. We are sleeping with our feet forward - if we hit something you don't damage yourself too much."

The News Corp team have now swerved on to a northeasterly heading for safer waters. This, at present, seems a rather risky move as all signs are the wind will build from the south first.

0900: After 48 hours of pulling away from the fleet John Kostecki's illbruck Challenge is now being reeled in on leg four, Auckland to Rio de Janeiro, in the Volvo Ocean Race.

At the front of the fleet it's Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One, fielding renowned yachtsman and winner of the 1997-98 Whitbread Paul Cayard, making the big gains, swiping some 11 miles off Kostecki's lead. It's break neck speeds for the eight Volvo Ocean 60s - no one is doing under 17 knots of boat speed as they dodge icebergs and bounce over waves en route to Cape Horn.

However the highest speeds can be found further down the fleet. Over the past 12 hours Neal McDonald's Assa Abloy and Knut Frostad's djuice have been hitting record breaking speeds. Though the margin is close, if they can maintain speeds around 19 knots they will certainly have a good chance of beating SEB's current record of 461 miles in 24 hours. djuice's skipper is currently reporting winds up to 44 knots as they hammer through the Southern Ocean 1800 miles from Cape Horn.

These high speeds through treacherous 'berg' territory are likely to hold for a while yet. A large depression is currently chasing the fleet eastbound across the desolate stretch of water around 57 degrees south. With the pressure down to 980 Mb and due to drop further the boats may see hurricane force winds before the conditions ease.

This low pressure system could see the fleet compress over the next few hours as there remains a north/south spread with the leaders to the north and the chasers to the south. Though Lisa McDonald's Amer Sports Too and Gunnar Krantz' SEB have fallen away from the pack the remaining six still have every chance of getting back into the game.

illbruck Challenge iceberg watch

Page two... Paul Cayard back in the groove
Page three... Mark Rudiger spends quality time with the radar

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