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16 April 2002, 11:37 am
Fleet Splits With News Corp Now Leading
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News Corp ©Richard Langdon

Volvo Ocean Race
Miami to Baltimore

After an incredible performance off the starting blocks Lisa McDonald’s Amer Sports Too, which led for the first hour of racing, started to fall down the fleet.
Volvo Ocean Report from 15 April 2002 - Unlike most teams that have been overhauled by ASSA ABLOY and illbruck, the team chose not to follow their tracks, bit their lip, and swung northeast. Currently the team, now six miles to the east of the fleet, are perhaps looking for a more central route along the Gulf Stream.

At the head of the fleet is Neal McDonald's ASSA ABLOY. The team will be happy, not only were they behind the line at the start (a novelty considering the chaos that reigned over the fleet yesterday afternoon), but also they have held John Kostecki's illbruck Challenge back for nearly a full day. Unfortunately, looking across the course, Kostecki's team is sailing lower and at the same speed. This is a serious issue when you consider the team could at any time head up five degrees and attack the ASSA ABLOY boys.

Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One holds the reigns to third place on this short leg north. The team were initially fourth away from Miami, but no doubt the desperate need to pass their all-women teammates aboard Amer Too was enough to drive them into the top three.

Dalton's nearest rivals are Jez Fanstone's News Corp, fractionally to the offshore side, Gunnar Krantz' Team SEB, holding an inside line, and Kevin Shoebridge's Team Tyco, which is currently attempting to shortcut the fleet with the most inshore course.
What's interesting is that Knut Frostad's djuice has already slipped back to nine miles behind the leader. This is solid proof, confirmed by Frostad on the djuice website, that the Davidson designed V.O.60 is slow in moderate reaching conditions. That is to say 10-20 knots of wind. Fortunately the wind is likely to swing into the south tomorrow giving the fleet running conditions all the way up to Chesapeake Bay - the large bay that marks the last 140nm into Baltimore - a weather window djuice apparently revels in.
Overnight the wind dropped. This compressed the fleet slightly, allowing Amer Sports One to retake third place from Team SEB. This change also enabled News Corp to make up some lost ground having held the wooden spoon away from the start line. "We are currently running in six to nine knots of breeze with three knots of Gulf Stream helping us towards Baltimore," explained News Corp navigator Nick White.

What will be interesting to watch is the battle between ASSA ABLOY and illbruck. For the majority of the 4,500nm drag race that was Leg 5, Rio de Janeiro to Miami, Neal McDonald's team hounded illbruck. This time they have the upper hand. The question for them, though, is when will illbruck find that sixth gear and hit the accelerator. These two boats, however, cannot get too comfortable at the top of the fleet. On the outside of the pack News Corp lies in wait. With a trained meteorologist calling the shots alongside Stuart Childerly, who is making the tactical decisions, the boat may well have a few tricks left up its sleeve.

With predicted arrival times of midday on Wednesday it looks like it's going to be a particularly quick race. Though the boats will slow as the wind drops and shifts to the right it is still likely to be an action packed race through Chesapeake Bay and up into Baltimore. It will also be interesting to see how the brave moves of Lisa McDonald's team transpire. With just four legs remaining, and nothing to lose, this is the sort of strategy we would expect - and hope - to see. The question is - will it pay?

Report Time - 07.03 GMT, 16 April 2002
Yacht Name - DTF - DTL - ETA
1. News Corporation - 00442 - 00000 - 17 APR 02 21:36 GMT
2. illbruck - 00442 - 043 - 17 APR 02 21:36 GMT
3. Amer Sports One - 00443 - 043 - 17 APR 02 21:46 GMT
4. ASSA ABLOY - 00445 - 044 - 17 APR 02 22:09 GMT
5. SEB Racing - 00465 - 061 - 18 APR 02 01:52 GMT
6. Tyco - 00467 - 054 - 18 APR 02 02:16 GMT
7. djuice - 00472 - 046 - 18 APR 02 03:19 GMT
8. Amer Sports Too - 076 - 034 - 18 APR 02 04:31 GMT

John Greenland - Volvo Media/ISAF Secretariat
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