After another twenty four hours of ocean sailing at its most frustrating,the illbruck challenge have kept their nose out in front.
By sailing their own race, John Kostecki's team have found the fastest lanes through the maze of clouds and weather systems that have shadowed the Volvo Ocean Race fleet for nearly five days now. With over 12 Whitbread races between the illbruck crew, experience seems to aid consistency in such unsettled conditions, where miles are hard to gain but very easy to lose.
After a classic piece of one design strategic sailing, illbruck had maneouvered themselves overnight between Team News Corp, Amer Sports One and the next waypoint of Arq. de Fernando de Noronha off Brazil. Yet this evening, Steve Hayles has directed Tyco onto a flyer to the west that has brought them level with illbruck and sailing at double the pace.
Most crews are now becoming impatient with the slow progress. "It's quite frustrating to sail in so little pressure. It's a bit like driving your Porsche down the motorway stuck in second gear. We have a boat that can easily top 20 knots and here we are pootling along at six. We are all hoping that soon we will have an opportunity to gun it and show you what we can really do," reflected illbruck co-navigator Ian Moore.
Ian Moore's thoughts were echoed by Grant Dalton. "The toughest ocean race is right now the most boring ocean race as we struggle not with the conditions but with the mental boredom of simply being parked for hour after hour and in fact what has now been four or five days of very slow progress," commented Dalton this morning.
The outlook continues to be bleak. "When I look out now to the future, I still see the doldrums, the South Atlantic high and the prospect of a time between 35 and 40 days now. For us this would be bad, no time to recover before the start with the lateness of the programme, and no time in Cape Town either. Then straight into the Southern Ocean," added Dalton.
ASSA ABLOY navigator Mark Rudiger summed up the snakes and ladders scenario this afternoon, joking: "At one point (last night) we just had to stop and laugh. Otherwise you would go nuts". They are currently third, three miles adrift of Tyco but with an extra half a knot of boat speed to their credit.
However, while a week ago the fleet were only keeping a loose eye on SEB's progress to the east, her performance over the last six hours will undoubtedly be a hot topic of debate.
Gunnar Krantz's crew may be last overall, but they seem to have found the entrance to the highway they were looking for as they speed south at over 10 knots - at times double the speed of the rest of the fleet. They are currently 50 miles south of illbruck, but still have over 350 easterly miles to overcome.
The slow progress at the front has benefited Amer Sports Too and djuice, who are gradually clawing back miles on the leaders by finding lanes with marginally more breeze. "We have made some good gains on the front-runners and our immediate competition. It is a tremendous motivator for the crew that the hard work we are putting into pushing this boat is paying off," remarked Amer Sports Too watch leader Katie Pettibone.
As the fleet reach the tropical latitudes, a lack of cooling breeze and the rising temperatures have made nutrition very important. To ensure that the crews are drinking enough, some skippers have resorted to drinking on command.
While the sailors are advised to drink two litres per day in 'normal conditions', the heat can raise it to eight litres per man or woman per day. Some crews use supplements in their drinking water to boost the necessary minerals. Up to 40 litres of water per hour can be produced on board with water makers, which converts salt water to fresh water.
Leg One Position Report, Day 12, 16.00hrs GMT:
PS Yacht Latitude Longitude DTF CMG SMG TFHR DTL DTL-C PO ETA
1 ILBK 20 58.96N 025 04.56W 05217 221 03.8 127 00000 00.0 8 24-Oct-01
2 TYCO 21 12.32N 025 51.68W 05217 209 06.9 126 00000 02.2 7 24-Oct-01
3 AART 21 11.28N 025 36.44W 05220 207 07.3 130 00003 02.0 6 24-Oct-01
4 AONE 21 12.88N 025 22.00W 05225 195 08.7 117 00008 01.8 5 25-Oct-01
5 NEWS 21 10.32N 025 00.92W 05229 212 04.2 118 00012 00.5 4 25-Oct-01
6 ATOO 21 34.80N 024 34.28W 05259 186 02.2 176 00042 01.3 3 25-Oct-01
7 DJCE 21 36.84N 023 30.04W 05281 195 02.9 135 00064 -00.3 2 25-Oct-01
8 TSEB 20 03.00N 019 08.64W 05299 185 12.1 187 00082 05.9 1 25-Oct-01
PS - Position; DTF - Distance to Finish; CMG - Course made good; SMG - Speed made good; TFHR - 24 hours run; DTL - Distance to leader; ROC - Rate of Closure; ETA - Estimated time of arrival; PO - Points
ILBK illbruck Challenge
AONE Amer Sports One
ATOO Amer Sports Two
AART ASSA ABLOY Racing Team
NEWS News Corporation
TYCO Team Tyco
TSEB Team SEB
DJCE djuice dragons