Illbruck is the first yacht in the Volvo Ocean Race to cross the equator and enter the southern hemisphere

Illbruck is the first yacht in the Volvo Ocean Race to cross the equator and enter the southern hemisphere. The German-flagged yacht is currently 17 miles ahead of Assa Abloy.

On board Illbruck, her crew have been quietly preparing to induct the four crew that have yet to cross from north to south. Richard Clarke (helmsman/trimmer), Ian Moore (navigator), Jamie Gale (mast) and Tony Kolb (bow) will all incur the wrath of King Neptune, who, as justice for past crimes, dishes out punishment in many smelly and sticky forms.

“I saw Stu ‘Waffler’ Bettany busy getting the King Neptune crown ready, and a bucket on deck contains some brew,” explained navigator Juan Vila.

For the rest of the fleet, it’s still plain sailing and a pure test of horse, or rather sail, power in the steady south-east trades as they simply race towards the same waypoint (Fernando de Noronha).

These straight line sailing conditions are the true acid test of every yacht’s sail testing programme and final inventory selection, as News Corp’s Alby Pratt commented: “With a Volvo boat, the yachts have to cover both upwind and downwind plus all the reaching angles in between which can lead to a massive variation in sail designs and sizes. It is easy to see why most teams have seven figure budgets for their sails.”

Still some 300 miles off their equator ceremony, the crew on Amer Sports Too are feeling the immense frustration of falling further behind the fleet with every six hourly report. “We are officially parked, or let’s say, illegally parked,” said navigator Genevieve White. “Our worst fears have been realised – the lead pack of five boats whom we have kept within general striking distance to date have slipped though the doldrums just ahead of us while we have stopped in our tracks just behind by a breezeless, shifty area combined with sloppy confused seas. Nevertheless, the crew is really positive, itching to get moving again and get on with the job.”

Position Report Day 18