Within the next two hours (up to 12.00hrs GMT), illbruck will become the first yacht in the Volvo Ocean Race to cross the equator and enter the southern hemisphere for the next five months. Illbruck is currently 17 miles ahead of Assa Abloy.
On board illbruck, her crew have been quietly preparing to induct the four crew that have yet to cross from north to south. Richard Clarke (helmsman/trimmer), Ian Moore (navigator), Jamie Gale (mast) and Tony Kolb (bow) will all incur the wrath of King Neptune, who, as justice for past crimes, dishes out punishment in many smelly and sticky forms.
"I saw Stu 'Waffler' Bettany busy getting the King Neptune crown ready, and a bucket on deck contains some brew," explained navigator Juan Vila.
For the rest of the fleet, it's still plain sailing and a pure test of horse, or rather sail, power in the steady southeast trades as they simply race towards the same waypoint (Fernando de Noronha).
These straight line sailing conditions are the true acid test of every yacht's sail testing programme and final inventory selection, as News Corp's Alby Pratt commented: "With a Volvo boat, the yachts have to cover both upwind and downwind plus all the reaching angles in between which can lead to a massive variation in sail designs and sizes. It is easy to see why most teams have seven figure budgets for their sails."
Still some 300 miles off their equator ceremony, the crew on Amer Sports Too are feeling the immense frustration of falling further behind the fleet with every six hourly report. "We are officially parked, or let's say, illegally parked," said navigator Genevieve White. "Our worst fears have been realised - the lead pack of five boats whom we have kept within general striking distance to date have slipped though the doldrums just ahead of us while we have been stopped in our tracks just behind by a breezeless, shifty area combined with sloppy confused seas. Nevertheless, the crew is really positive, itching to get moving again and get on with the job."
Volvo Ocean Race Position Report Day 18, 10.00hrs GMT:
PS Yacht Latitude Longitude DTF CMG SMG TFHR DTL ROC ETA PO
1 ILBK 00 19.72N 031 30.84W 3922 191 09.6 257 0 00.0 25-Oct-01 8
2 AART 00 37.92N 031 31.84W 3939 196 09.9 224 17 00.2 25-Oct-01 7
3 NEWS 00 54.52N 031 25.80W 3957 196 09.8 221 35 00.0 25-Oct-01 6
4 TYCO 01 08.32N 031 31.24W 3969 195 09.7 224 47 00.0 25-Oct-01 5
5 AONE 01 17.56N 031 17.24W 3981 196 09.6 219 59 -00.2 25-Oct-01 4
6 ATOO 05 23.28N 029 46.08W 4242 185 02.0 079 320 -07.7 26-Oct-01 3
7 TSEB 04 22.88N 027 13.68W 4250 215 09.5 183 328 -00.3 26-Oct-01 2
8 DJCE 05 28.88N 028 32.08W 4272 207 08.1 187 350 -01.7 27-Oct-01 1