Where it all went wrong

Ed Gorman looks at the plight of the seven boats which have not made the grade in the Volvo Ocean Race
The first Volvo Ocean Race isn't over but the finishing order is starting to take on a fairly static look with illbruck firmly on course for overall honours and Assa Abloy reasonably secure in second with a handy five-point margin over Amer Sports One in third place. The main issue between now and the finish at Kiel is which team is going to end up in third place, with Grant Dalton on Amer One facing the twin challenges of Jez Fanstone's News Corp just two points behind in fourth and Kevin Shoebridge's Tyco one point further back in fifth. With Dee Smith on tactics - arguably the best in the fleet - my money is on Dalts to hang in there over two short tactically demanding final stages. It may not be quite over but it is certainly not too early to have a look at what has gone wrong with the 'other seven' - that is, everyone except illbruck. The first thing to say is that the answer for any of the boats in the top-five is "not much". We should not forget that illbruck has set an extremely high standard in every aspect of its campaign - funding, management, sailors, shore team, sails, rig, and boat in that order (roughly) - and this has been the closest round-the-world race ever. So none of the top four after illbruck can be classed a disaster. Not good enough yes, but not rubbish either. The same cannot be said at the other end of the fleet where three teams have been outclassed. The all-women crew on Amer Sports Too is the special case because no one ever expected them to finish anything other than last. The question was, how well could they do and could they avoid finishing last on the water in every