Nearly there

The Volvo fleet should reach La Rochelle today

Thursday May 9th 2002, Author: Peter Bentley, Location: France
Positions at 04.00 9 May 2002

Latitude Longitude DTF SMG TFHR DTL DTL-C Pts
1 illbruck 46 24.40N 003 53.48W 111 12.7 296 0 0 49
2 Assa Abloy 46 32.04N 004 50.48W 151 13.5 295 40 -5 41
3 Tyco 46 33.64N 005 02.36W 159 13.4 291 48 -5 33
4 SEB 46 01.64N 005 37.28W 182 14 295 71 -8 26
5 Amer One 46 35.08N 005 45.12W 188 13.8 291 77 -7 36
6 News Corp 46 54.80N 006 02.92W 204 13.4 279 93 -5 34
7 djuice 46 41.40N 007 42.32W 269 12.3 280 158 2 23
8 Amer Too 44 38.96N 063 34.24W RTD

"The Volvo Ocean Race is not over yet but coming back to France feels like we have achieve a round the world adventure. Hard to avoid looking behind us and start thinking about the things we could have done better or differently. We also see the evolution onboard our boat and see how better we are sailing now compared to the first leg, eight month ago,' reports a reflective Sidney Gavignet from Aboard Assa Abloy as he closes in on his home country. The reflective spirit is alive and well on most boats with Stuart Childerley reporting "much of the conversation is now based on fine dining, beer and women's lingerie," aboard News Corp. Though this is Stuart's first leg in the 2002 edition of the race it has clearly had a big impact on him, citing "the exhilaration of hurtling down waves achieving in excess of 26 knots boat speeds," as the best part of the trip. "These moments will stay in my mind for a longtime: it was fantastic."

As the crews reflect on what has been and what might yet lie ahead, the racing has taken on a remarkably processional turn. With the fleet now all reaching in moderate conditions towards La Rochelle, there are likely to be few surprises before the finish. All the boats have now crossed their outbound tracks, and thus, technically, have completed their circumnavigation of the world. Despite the fact that Illbruck appears to be uncatchable as leader of this leg, and probably of the overall race.

Illbruck continues to maintain her strong lead, now 40 miles ahead of her nearest rival, but all boats with the exception of Djuice, have caught up a few miles in the last six hours. The closest battle continues to be between Amer Sports One and SEB, the latter being just six miles ahead. In many respects this is the most interesting contest in the race. A poor result on leg seven will make it all but impossible for them to displace Assa Abloy from Second place overall. Indeed it is beginning to look as if the only real battle in the overall results will be for the third place on the winner's podium come Kiel. illbruck is to all practical intents and purposes unbeatable while Neal McDonald has put Assa Abloy into virtually unassailable position in second place. How he must rue the poor performance of his team on the first leg.

A reflective Grant Dalton. What might have been?

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