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Rudiger's Ruse

Bob Fisher Reports

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (Oct. 22, 1997) — Mark Rudiger, the navigator of EF Language, has been highly contributory to the success of the boat. The role of the navigator is never underplayed and Rudiger's position is all the more surprising since he was appointed only ten days before the start, when Nick White jumped ship, hoping, unsuccessfully, to join America's Challenge.

In those ten days, Rudiger had to learn the complexities of the on-board electronic navigational systems, and belatedly find out the historical weather pattern for the Atlantic leg.

It may be because he had very little time to absorb that history that he has taken each day, or two, as a separate weather pattern. At Ushant, on Day Two, he picked a course through the fickle wind to lead, and continued to hold a front-runner's place by similar strategy two days later at Cape Finisterre.

After trailing Innovation Kvaerner closely through the non-existent Doldrums, Rudiger delivered the coup de grace after rounding the Ilha Trindade, 1,200 miles south of the Equator. With his boat, Merit Cup and Kvaerner in close company, Rudiger insisted that EF Language go southwest.

On the other gybe, both of their rivals were pointing at the mark, but the extra 25-30 miles that EF Language sailed on starboard tack put them on the back of a depression in winds that were never matched for the others. Within a day, EF had established what had become an unassailable lead. Just to make certain, Rudiger made a similar move four days later and stretched the lead by another 30 miles.

— Yachting journalist Bob Fisher
lives in Lymington, England

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