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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 5: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Miami, Florida

Dispatch 6: Recoup, Regroup, and Mend | Dispatch Archive
April 5, 2002

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

Now that the fleet is well and truly out of the Southern Ocean it is a time to recoup, regroup, and mend those boats! There was an unusual amount of damage on the last leg for a relatively light airs leg, and this always focuses the mind. The boats have sailed well over halfway round the world and the wear and tear is starting to become evident. I remember that when we arrived in Ft. Lauderdale in the 1989-90 race there were many repairs to be done to many of the boats. We had a fractured rig and a leak somewhere in the hull that we couldn’t pinpoint. (Rather worrying!) The shore crews will be full on at this stopover.

Although the wind and waves are usually extreme and terrifying, it is not completely unknown to be becalmed in the Southern Ocean as we have seen with the teams on this race. It is a weird feeling to be in that desolate place with no wind.

Realistically, the lead position is now open to the top three boats who continue to push each other as hard as possible. It is also becoming clear that there is no substitute for experience. Illbruck, Amer Sports One and Team Tyco have all to play for. The middle of the fleet is also close and the battle there will be no less intense on the next short but tactical leg up to Annapolis.

The crew changes for the next leg will be important as the legs from now on are shorter and therefore there’s less time to get it right. No-one can afford to make the slightest mistake now.

There will be a feeling of renewed vigor and effort on the next leg as it almost feels that the race starts again from this point. I think that the psychology of lots of short legs will be interesting, and the team that can deal with that will be the team in the lead.

—Tracy Edwards

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SEB skipper Gurra Krantz throws chocolate—but not the wrapper—overboard. “We see too much garbage already in the sea as we pass around the world.”   Photograph by Magnus Woxen/Team SEB

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