Assa into the lead

Breathtaking last few hours of Volvo Ocean Race reports James Boyd from Miami

Tuesday March 26th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
On going struggle - Lisa McDonald reports from Amer Sports Too.

I'm sorry it's been so long since you've heard from us but 'we've had a bit on' is the best way to put it.

Since Saturday the 23, we have been fighting not only tooth and nail against djuice but fighting full stop just to stay in the race. It all started with what we thought to be a minor fuel problem - getting it to the generator. It has turned into a potentially serious situation (fortunately now under control) which has totally disrupted the watch system, left us without use of our generator, having to use our emergency fuel supply in this situation, not knowing if we would have any electronics or fresh water at all on a daily basis, lack of communication with the outside world and a shattered race crew using every ounce of energy to battle the fire breathing dragons trying to beat us while we are down.

It has been an oceanic match race in the most frustrating circumstances. This kind of close racing is what we have been working towards and waiting for the whole way around the planet.

Baking hot in the sun all day and having to conserve fresh water use, several crew out of the watch system to make repairs and try and test them, puts added pressure on those working on deck with minimal use of instruments, longer hours and a disrupted schedule and navigating by paper chart and handheld GPS (by torch at night) has added a new dimension of what stress can be felt out here. The energy is high too, with this crew - when the going gets tough we just get tougher and tougher.

We have had to run a black out ship the past few nights, without electronics and the moon to show us the way and light up the sea, only the emergency nav lights have been soldered on. This is sailing back to basics: trimming and driving by feel, guessing win/loss with the competition by watching a bobbing nav light on the horizon, and only the handheld GPS to tell us how and where we are going.

At the moment we have less than 400 nautical miles to the finish and Emma W [Westmacott], Abby [Seager] and co. have done a brilliant job of making a charging system work on the main engine that allows us refrained use of power. So we can at least produce fresh water with our main watermaker (as our handheld one is broken) and have instruments needed as we close in on land and the competition as well as keep our communications open - if only for a few hours a day.

Are we having fun yet??? I shall leave you with that and very much look forward to our arrival in Miami...

Lisa McDonald
Amer Sports Too

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