The Volvo Ocean Race fleet is careering south at breakneck speeds, and leg leader, Mike Sanderson with ABN AMRO ONE, the furthest boat south, is in a dilemma: “How hard to push? What are the other guys doing? Is going as fast as movistar (Bouwe Bekking) was in the last sked (position report) good enough to hang on? Wait a minute, we don’t have to beat them in this leg, nor the other teams either, we just have to keep this thing in one piece… but there are 3.5 bonus points waiting at Cape Horn for the leader.. those points would make our lives a little easier.. but what if we push too hard and break?
Movistar (Bouwe Bekking) is revelling in the true southern ocean conditions. They covered 140.8 miles in one six hour period, averaging 25.5 knots. “Just ripping the miles, this is what we love to do,” wrote an elated Bekking in the early hours of this morning.
Ericsson Racing Team (Neal McDonald) managed a Chinese gybe and remarkably recovered the boat without breaking any gear. In the 2001-02 event, SEB lost her mast in the same situation. No one was hurt on Ericsson and the team sorted out the boat and brought her back up to speed in two hours, but it cost them many miles and they are now behind Brasil 1 and losing to the leading three boats.
“It’s been the hardest 24 hours of the race for all of us, and the brutal facts are that, with 2000 miles to Cape Horn, this sort of drama is far from over,” wrote Steve Hayles, Ericsson’s navigator.
ABN AMRO TWO (Sebastien Josse) has continuing problems with their mainsail, which ripped two days ago. Yesterday, after a brief period of sunshine and lighter breeze, the crew attempted to repair the metre-long hole in the mainsail, but less than 24 hours after successfully making the repair, holes are opening up elsewhere and they are now sailing with two reefs in until the weather improves enough to attempt another repair. “The outlook doesn’t look good for the sail,” wrote navigator Simon Fisher. “Right now, it may as well be made of newspaper – at least we would have something to read,” he concluded.
There is chaos below on Brasil 1. Norwegian watch leader, Knut Frostad, says that a call to the health and food authorities might be a good idea. “Can someone please remind me, in four years from now, that I don’t really need to do this any more. I do really like a big, warm, nice bed and dry clothes, and I do love nice food…. it’s true, I do! Why are you laughing and thinking ‘idiot, you said this four years ago.’”
The most southerly yacht in the fleet is leader, ABN AMRO ONE, with the second Dutch boat, ABN AMRO TWO 145 nautical miles to the north. Movistar is nearest to ABN AMRO ONE, with Pirates of the Caribbean (Paul Cayard) to windward of her and Ericsson Racing Team is behind these two. Brasil 1 sails a similar course to ABN AMRO TWO, but is in fourth place.
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