The Race - 1030 - 8/1/01

Mark Chisnell reports as Cam puts the hammer down

Monday January 8th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
We left The Race fleet on Friday morning with Grant Dalton's Club Med having just snuck back into the lead from Loick Peyron and his team aboard Innovation Explorer. The three lead boats had all placed their bets as the wind began to fill across the North Atlantic, with the arrival of the predicted low pressure system and cold front.

Fleet at 0500, 8/1/01

'Corner Cam' in Team Adventure (orange - Friday morning position is right at the top of the image) was all the way out west, gambling on the advantage of getting both the new breeze and the lifting wind shift to the north-west first, after the passage of the cold front. 'Stay Left' Loick was out the other side with Innovation Explorer (green) positioned to the east. While in the centre was 'Middling Mike' Quilter and Grant Dalton, doubtless reigning back the corner-bashing urges of Club Med's (light blue) met man, Roger 'Clouds' Badham.

These three held formation as they poured it on in the increasing breeze, Team Adventure passing the Canaries to the west, Club Med going through the middle - and taking a five hour hit in light air as they went into the lee of the islands - and Innovation Explorer staying east. Team Adventure also broke a couple of battens as they hit the gas, something I suspect we're going to see plenty more of, and Lewis reckoned it cost them about 75 miles. But they were well over a hundred behind Club Med.

Innovation Explorer was still challenging Club Med for the lead from her position off the African coast, but their longer term strategic situation was not so good. The navigators were already looking at the Doldrums and it was clear that Innovation Explorer had to be further west for a fast crossing. On Saturday, Loick Peyron bit the bullet and gybed west.

By now the Azores High had moved in after the low pressure system and the three leaders were all in the north-east trade winds that blow along the south-eastern edge of this big high. To get west in the north-easterly required a gybe to starboard that was a lot further off the direct course than the port gybe straight down the Atlantic. Peyron's strategy was expensive in terms of short-term miles on the board and by Sunday afternoon Team Adventure was through them.

Club Med had also been edging west during Sunday, and although Team Adventure was coming back at them fast as well, by Sunday afternoon Dalton had managed to get himself directly south and in front of the charging Lewis. By doing so Club Med banked the miles they had made earlier in the weekend - score one to Dalts and co, the middle pays out over the corners ...

continued on page two

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