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Race Dispatches
From Race Veteran Tracy Edwards
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The Volvo Ocean Race 2001-2002
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Leg 7: Annapolis, U.S.A., to La Rochelle, France

Dispatch 8: How to Win | Dispatch Archive
May 9, 2002

[Note: Nationalgeographic.com does not research or copyedit field dispatches.]

As the teams head in to la Rochelle they know that the positions will change very little over the next few legs. The flyers we saw on the trans-Atlantic leg are indicative of a need to win legs now rather [than later in] the race.

The leg from Miami to Baltimore saw nothing too drastic in the way of tactics. It is more difficult to take a flyer when sailing from south to north or north to south.

The run west to east across the mighty Atlantic provides a great ‘race track’, where, like the Southern Ocean, anything can happen. Chances will be taken and navigators will be glued to the nav station.

There will be a feeling of ‘getting home’ for the many Europeans on the race and thoughts will be turning to how to make the most of the last few of the many legs of this race.

I think the results are surprising this far. I was expecting to see Amer One and Tyco with more points. Illbruck really have dominated this race and have shown that planning and preparation are everything.

At the other end of the scale Amer Too have demonstrated that the lack of these two important ingredients makes for a miserable race. I am often asked if the girls on Amer Too should have accepted their poisoned chalice and have always said, “No.” Being thrown the scraps of someone else’s sailing project just so that you can get on a boat is counter-productive. They have taken women’s sailing back quite a few steps.

Illbruck have demonstrated how you win the Volvo and looking back on past races, it has always been so.

Yes, the weather can deal you a bad hand. And, yes, you can have accidents. But the longer you plan, prepare, and train, the more in charge you are of your chances. The idea is to squeeze the element of luck into a tiny, tiny fraction.

I believe you have to raise your own money, put together your own project, and choose your own team. So, for Amer Too, as for maybe a couple other boats in this race, this time round was a training exercise.

It is often said that by the time you finish the Volvo, you have learnt enough to start the race. How true.

Unless the element of luck comes into play, the results are now pretty much set.

—Tracy Edwards

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Skipper Jez Fanstone onboard Team News Corp during the 3,400 nautical-mile (3,910-statute-mile/6,300-kilometer) crossing of Volvo Ocean Race Leg Seven from Annapolis, Maryland, to La Rochelle, France. Photograph by Damion Duke

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