Australias Eclipse Island, located three miles off the continents southwest coast, was intended as safety waypoint for Leg 2–a means to keep the fleet from sailing too far south and out of reach of rescue services. But what its also done is cause yet another re-start for the five frontrunners racing within sight of each other after nearly 4,500 miles of Southern Ocean sailing.
For more than 48 hours over the weekend, SEB, illbruck, Assa Abloy, Team News Corp, and djuice, drifted in the grips of a high-pressure system, but early today, water began streaming past their hulls. Gurra Krantz on SEB was the first to watch his speedo jump as his narrow, lime green VO60 sailed straight toward Eclipse in a 7-knot easterly. At the 1600 position report, SEB had established a 13-mile lead over illbruck, which was averaging two knots less. Illbruck had a six-mile lead over the tightly packed threesome of Assa Abloy, Team News Corp, and djuice.
Thirty miles in arrears of SEB is Grant Daltons Amer Sports One, which was finally showing signs of slowing and alleviating subtle fears among the front runners that Amer would overrun them. At the 1600 GMT position report, Amer was reporting only 2 knots of boatspeed. To complicate the situation, Amers navigator Roger Nilson is splitting his time between the nav station and the makeshift hospital as he watches over American crewmember Keith Kilpatrick who is recovering from seriously blocked intestines.
Last Monday, Kilpatrick reported symptoms of intestinal problems, and by Thursday, he was unable to eat or drink. On Thursday, the Royal Australian Air Force dropped seven medical supply boxes, which were picked up by the crew. “The timing was critical as night was falling fast,” wrote Nilson. “The last box was picked up just before we totally lost daylight. We took the spinnaker down and used the mainsail and engine, going bow to wind in order to pick up boxes with a boat hook we made for the job. It all went very smoothly, as the weather conditions were perfect.”
Nilson added that Kilpatrick was on two heavy antibiotics and a spasmolytic intravenous drug delivered by the RAAF. “We got 30 liters of fluid from the seven packages dropped down,” said Nilson. “And also we needed more syringes, needles, infusion sets, sterile water for mixing antibiotics, more morphine, etc.”
“Im coming through now and feeling a quite a bit better,” Kilpatrick told race headquarters on Sunday. “Todays been quite a big improvement. Im off the needle and taking drinks orally, which is nice. In some way, shape or form I have done something to my intestines. What ever the trouble was, it has partially subsided.”
Kilpatrick will be transferred off the boat near Eclipse Island as early as Wednesday and is expected to rejoin the team later in the race.