The Race - 1030 - 22/3/01
The Team Legato skipper commented: "If they can repair the split in their port bow within the next 24-48 hours, we will have a real race on our hands all the way back to Marseilles."
At their present speed, Bullimore and his boys will reach the same latitude as Warta-Polpharma over the weekend just as the Poles re-join the fray. "If their estimate for the repair time is correct, then we are going to be very close. Then it will be a straight sprint for the finish back in Marseilles," the British skipper added with enthusiasm.
Team Adventure passed the Rock of Gibraltar and re-entered the Mediterranean at 6:00 pm local time on Wednesday evening. With less than 700 miles remaining in her 26,000-mile sprint around the world, the 110-foot high-tech cat is expected to cross the finish line off Marseilles some time on Friday or Saturday.
"We were becalmed for much of the day as we worked the north shore of the Straits looking for breeze," said Larry Rosenfeld, co-navigator of Team Adventure, in a satellite phone call from the boat. "A nice breeze came up in the late afternoon and now we're flying again, carrying our big quadrilateral jib and doing 14 knots."
Skipper Cam Lewis reported an unidentified flying object sighting. "The most amazing UFO streaked across the night sky and exploded in a ball of green light that lit up the whole boat and ocean," he said. "This was just after two dolphins entertained us with an incredible display of swimming and jumping in a sea alive with phosphorescence, zigging and zagging through the water and leaving incredible wakes."
Lewis said that the cat was surrounded by processions of ships on the main shipping channel in and out of the Mediterranean.
"We have returned to civilisation," he said. "Already the air is changing, the smells of mass humanity are starting to replace the crisp sea airs. It is going to be different coming back out of our little biosphere. Wellington was a long time ago. Now we must adapt again to the sounds of car doors slamming, dogs barking, sirens shrieking, horns blaring and the dreaded smoke of the millions of cigarettes on fire in every restaurant in France. Oh well, that's life!"
Crewmember Philippe Peché reported yesterday that the speedy cat had passed one ship: "We overtook an old freighter, a gas tanker that was having a job to make 15. They saw a rocket pass them at 25/26 knots and must have wondered what on Earth just happened to them!" he said.
Peché, who is making his first circumnavigation, described it as a tremendous experience. "What has impressed me most about this voyage is the boat," he said. "She's a magic boat, very fast, and in perfect condition. On board, there are two aspects that are surprising to me: the sails which are still giving 85 % of their performance after 25,000 miles racing round the world, and our ropes. Everything has held really well. We have only broken a mainsheet and that was when we had to "dump" it in a hurry. The new Spectra fibres have proved themselves. They are light and very efficient and could without problems be used on big cruising yachts."
Overall positions at 07:00 GMT on 22 March
1. Club Med Finished Marseilles 19:56GMT 3.03.01
2. Innovation Explorer Finished Marseilles 11:32GMT 6.03.01
3. Team Adventure +520 miles
4. Warta Polpharma +3,200 miles
5. Team Legato +3,745 miles
6. PlayStation - RETIRED 14.01.01