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Volvo Race departs Annapolis for last big push -- across Atlantic

Jan 1, 2003

After more than 20,000 miles of being battered on the world's high seas, the Volvo Ocean Race fleet departed Chesapeake Bay for the last big hurdle, a race across the Atlantic for La Rochelle in France. The 3,400-nm slog will likely be the scene for some of the worst conditions the crew have seen. They expect to dodge icebergs and late-season North Atlantic gales that will come screaming down from the Arctic and assault the fleet's already haggard crew.

As a precaution, Volvo Race headquarters in Southampton, England, have required all vessels to avoid an area known to contain large quantities of floating ice that is currently being dumped into the North Atlantic by the Labrador Current, which flows from the Davis Strait between Greenland and Canada. Some 'bergs drift as far south as 40° N.

The yachts will likely stay in tune with the major axis of the Gulf Stream, which means warm water and a boost in speed, provided headwinds don't make this an unpleasant option.