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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 3: Sydney (via Hobart, Australia) to Auckland, New Zealand

Dispatch 4: Halfway | Dispatch Archive
January 14, 2002

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

So, the fleet is in Auckland. This really is the halfway point in every sense of the word. Up until now all the teams have felt as if they are sailing away from the start. But in Auckland that all changes. One feels as if one is sailing towards the finish. This makes a huge psychological difference to the attitudes of the crews and especially the skippers. This is usually where the most crew changes take place. It’s as if you now have only a finite time to get it right if you haven’t already done so. With the fleet being so close and the racing so exciting it’s the changes that are made now that count.

The best change for me is on Amer Sport Too. No one quite understood why the navigational spot, the most important job on the boat, was given to someone with little experience in this area, and it has had a devastating effect on the performance of the girls. I am proud to say that Miranda Merron, one of my crew from the 1998 Jules Verne, has been taken onboard to replace her, and I think that this is a wise decision. Although, and I know she would agree with me, no one can quite work out why the world’s best female navigator, Adrienne Cahalan, was not taken on at the start. Emma Richards, also a former crew member of the Jules Verne, will be joining the boat with Miranda. There will be other changes I am sure, and they might be brutal. But now is the time to do it.

The new points system is definitely ensuring an exciting race that is more understandable to the armchair sailor with more scope for outcome change as we go along. Good to see Grant Dalton right up there at the end of this leg, and he must feel now that faith in him is justified. Team Tyco have also been clawing their way back from a series of unlucky incidences and can be proud of their performance in the last leg. Although the distance may not be great, this leg really is a killer and tactics play a hugely important part as do weather analysis and navigational skills. The crews will also be feeling the strain after racing halfway round the world for nearly four months. This is when mistakes happen. The worst mistake on the last leg is to take anything for granted.

It will be interesting to see the new crew lineups for the next and most difficult leg. Looking at the fleet as it stands, the podium is wide open. Experience could count for a lot.

—Tracy Edwards

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Amer Sports One crosses the finish line in Auckland, New Zealand at the conclusion of Leg 3.   Photograph by Carlo Borlenghi/SEA & SEE

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