Rubber banding it

The distance between the Volvo leaders continues to fluctuate

Friday March 22nd 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Positions at 1000
1 illbruck 17 43.76N 061 40.72W 1161 0 0 11.7 322
2 Assa Abloy 17 31.68N 061 34.48W 1172 11 -6 12.6 320
3 Tyco 17 30.04N 061 31.88W 1175 14 -6 12.5 319
4 SEB 16 18.84N 060 43.76W 1258 97 -19 14.8 313
5 Amer One 15 52.64N 060 05.84W 1302 141 -16 14.3 308
6 News Corp 15 46.40N 060 00.16W 1310 149 -17 14.4 311
7 Amer Too 15 26.76N 059 29.64W 1345 184 -10 12.8 316
8 djuice 15 18.08N 059 03.80W 1369 208 -14 13.9 310

Weather situation for 1200GMT 23 March

The front runners in the Volvo Ocean Race look set to round the 'turning' mark off the Caribbean island of Barbuda later this morning as they peel off the miles north west to Miami. The rubber banding goes on between the three leaders. Last night illbruck was mile by mile slowly pulling away from Assa Abloy and Tyco placed second and third respectively. But this morning illbruck had lost miles to them again. And the race is by no means over yet...

The weather map for Saturday (above) shows that the conditions are likely to go soft for the front runners has they have to tackle a slow moving cold front. This will see the wind veer to the south east, putting them on a light air run and the crews will have to work hard on their gybing angles to maintain a good VMG to the next turning mark - the Sombrero Light at 18deg 36'N, 063deg 26.0W - until they are through the front and back into the north easterlies.

This will give the tailenders who will continue to stay in the regular north easterly trade winds, the opportunity to catch up a little and will give the navigators (most of whom have been on the rail for the last few days) some work to do. The outcome will depend on whether there is a difference between how the front affects those at the front and those at the back of the fleet.

In the regular reaching conditions with little to do tactically and few sail changes to be made and without the horrors of bumping into icebergs, the main concerns of the crews have been ensuring that they have enough suntan lotion on and that they keep enough water inside them. Otherwise they have been contemplating their navels or engaging in 'weather rail banter'. On the next page SEB's Jon Gundersen, recently jumped ship from News Corp, gives some insight on how in an international team such as theirs they are not just talking about girls, beer, boats and sport.

On Amer Sports Too, the girls have managed to fix their watermaker. The boats only carry safety reserves of water and must rely on a watermaker for all their drinking, cooking and occasional washing requirements. This watermaker desalinates the salt water by forcing the water through a very very fine filter that allows water molecules to pass through, but not the larger salt ones.

Into the Trades with SEB. Note the twin hatch configuration which nearly caused her to sink (were it not for her dismasting) on the last leg

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