From the jaws of defeat

Assa Abloy sneak victory in leg five

Wednesday March 27th 2002, Author: Peter Bentley, Location: United States
Positions at 0800 27 March 2002
Yacht Latitude Longitude DTF DTL DTL-C SMG Pts
1 Assa Abloy 25 48.40N 080 05.72W 0 0 0 0 28
2 illbruck 25 48.40N 080 05.72W 0 0 0 0 36
3 Tyco 25 48.40N 080 05.72W 0 0 0 0 24
4 SEB 25 41.24N 079 44.20W 21 21 -20 6.2 17
5 News 25 41.12N 079 38.72W 25 25 -15 2.7 23
6 Amer One 25 45.16N 079 23.72W 38 38 -19 5.7 25
7 djuice 25 34.84N 077 09.60W 164 164 -20 6.8 19
8 Amer Too 25 38.44N 077 06.16W 166 166 -20 7.5 8
    In the closest and most thrilling finish to a leg of the Volvo Ocean Race so far, Assa Abloy finally sneaked in under illbruck's nose in the small hours of Wednesday morning.

    As so often seems to happen, the outcome of a leg of the Volvo Ocean Race has rested more on current than wind. Careful positioning by Assa Abloy navigator, Mark Rudiger, saw the golden Kevlar hulled boat sneaking in out of the tide just a few miles short of Miami. With illbruck helplessly drifting backwards in an area of no wind Neal McDonald and his crew proved victorious.

    Visibly exhausted after a week of exceptionally close racing, McDonald admitted to celebrating his second leg win by taking a quick nap on the way in from the finish line, commenting with characteristic understatement, "it has been very intense during the past couple of days."

    "You don't really know quite what was going to happen. The weather was pretty unpredictable. If it had been a nice steady wind to the finish, it would have been a lot easier. But with the clouds and the storms and all that nonsense, it was quite hard work."

    For race favourite, illbruck the end of the leg marked one of many dips in a roller coaster trip. Soon after the start in Rio illbruck were hit by SEB in a port/starboard collision leaving them trailing the fleet. Undaunted, they sailed through the whole fleet to claim and reclaim the lead several times in a game of cat and mouse with Tyco and Assa Abloy.

    For more than a week, illbruck, Assa Abloy and Tyco sailed within sight of each other, constantly swapping positions. Three days ago illbruck lost an all important spinaker overboard and finally to surrender leg victory in the swirling current off Miami.

    Tyco sailed a constant leg with good speed and clever tactics. This is Tyco's third top three result in a row, showing a consistency that was only broken up by the rudder damage on leg two. They have now overtaken News Corp in the overall standings and moved up to fourth place.

    illbruck - pipped at the post

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