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22 March 2002, 03:30 pm
Nine Sailors On The Way Home
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Volvo Ocean Race

With the United States and the stopover port of Miami about 1000 miles away, six guys and three women are heading home.

So it is worth taking a closer look at the Americans in the Volvo Ocean Race who contribute on four of the eight yachts sailing the nine-leg race.

The most outstanding personality is illbruck's skipper John Kostecki, who mounted a potentially winning campaign for German Michael Illbruck. Born in Pittsburgh, USA in 1964, he has already bought home the Soling World Champion title in 1986 and 1988, only to top it with the silver medal at the 1988 Olympic games. Even though enjoying the lead right now, John recently shared his thoughts in an email from on board: "Hopefully these trade winds will hold so we get to Miami soon. It has been a while since I have been to the States so I am really looking forward to the American qualities of life." But still, he is the only American aboard illbruck and relied heavily on Kiwi experience to man his boat.

The second US skipper is the head of the all female crew aboard Amer Sports Too, Lisa McDonald. McDonald considers herself to be one lucky sailor. After giving up looking for sponsorship for her own Volvo Ocean Race campaign with fellow American and EF Education alumni Katie Pettibone last year, a ready-made project looking for a skipper and crew fell into her lap. Even though she is married to Englishman Neal, and is entitled to UK citizenship, she holds on to her American passport. On this leg she's managed to push boat and crew to give the guys a real run for their money, right now the team is defending their position against djuice. Finishing ahead of a boy's boat is important to her as she revealed: "We managed to sneak up behind the boys on Amer Sports One and play cat and mouse in the clouds for a few hours, we even got over them at one stage - wish I had taken a picture." Alongside Pettibone, the third American on board is Melissa Purdy. Melissa, who owns a Pizzeria, sails on board as trimmer, while Katie leads one of the two watches due to her professional yachting background.

Three Americans are sailing on ASSA ABLOY, the second Swedish entry in this race besides SEB. While skipper Neal McDonald from the south of England heads the boat, navigator and co-skipper Mark "Rudi" Rudiger from California is calling the shots. He brings in the wealth of experience he gained when winning the race four years ago with fellow American Paul Cayard. As his experience comes mainly from ocean racing, an American tactician and helmsman was brought on board. Chris Larson, a helmsman from the 2000 Americas Cup and multiple J24 world champion, joined the crew for the first time on Leg three, ASSA ABLOY then won that leg into Auckland, after securing line honours in the Sydney to Hobart race. Along with Larson came 'Big Mike' Howard, an experienced racing sailor and member of the Oracle Racing Team for the 2003 Americas Cup.

Another US watch leader is Dee Smith aboard Amer Sports One, who is back after missing leg four due to a shoulder injury. Smith is a world-renowned tactician and skipper with more than 35 years' of racing experience. In addition to his skills as watch captain and tactician he has much experience in project management, rigging, sail design, sail making and boat building. As a skipper he has won the Admiral's Cup on Jameson in 1997 and Innovision 7 in 1999.

Amer Sports One co-skipper Bouwe Bekking described American crew mate, Peter Pendleton in an email today: "Pete Pendleton, our USA trimmer, the man who can fix everything. In the dark he is easy to find, because he is always with a cigarette on his lips when on deck. There is a not a day that he is not working on something, even when I think everything is perfect, he will still find items which he can service. He is not a big boy, but it is amazing how much food he can stuff into himself, he is eating like a wolf, never any leftovers. He is a bit bored right know, because there is not a lot of breeze. He loves it when it starts blowing a gale, even when it is on the nose, he will jump on deck and scream: send it."

This morning illbruck, ASSA ABLOY and Tyco were passing Barbuda in lighter southwesterly winds than they have been experiencing over the last few days. Over the next hours, they will have to decide where to position themselves for the downwind course that is coming up, depending where they expect the next wind shift to come from.

Meanwhile SEB, who made the biggest gains and is still sailing in stronger reaching conditions, closed the gap with illbruck to under 100 miles and was putting some more on the distance to Amer Sports One. Djuice, Amer Sports Too and News Corp are still reaching in an easterly breeze and will make more gains on the leaders.

Volvo Ocean Race Position Report, Day 14, 0956 GMT

Position Yacht DTF CMG SMG DTL PO
1 illbruck 1161 322 11.7 0 37
2 Assa Abloy 1172 320 12.6 11 27
3 Team Tyco 1175 319 12.5 14 24
4 Team SEB 1258 313 14.8 97 17
5 Amer Sports One 1302 308 14.3 141 26
6 News Corp 1310 311 14.4 149 22
7 Amer Sports Too 1345 316 12.8 184 9
8 djuice 1369 310 13.9 208 18
Volvo Ocean Race Press/News Editor
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