The Race - 1430 - 10/1/01

Mark Chisnell reports as the Doldrums suck ...

Wednesday January 10th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
They think it's all over ... but it isn't, or it may not be - the Doldrums is the topic. And we can see from the chart below that Grant Dalton and his team aboard Club Med (light blue) have been duking it out mile by mile and gust by gust with Cam Lewis and Team Adventure (orange).

These two boats have been glued at the hip for the past 900 miles. Initially, Dalton held the advantage with Lewis firmly tucked behind him, but Team Adventure has managed to shake off that covering position and now they are only separated by 30 or so miles of longitude with the gap in the rankings less than 20 miles - Corner Cam's got some leverage and the game is on.

Fleet at 0830, 10/1/01

Their courses straightened and the speeds climbed late evening yesterday and it looked as though they were home and dry, into the south-east trade winds. But sixteen or so hours later and things are not quite so clear cut. The big swerve to the west that both boats took around midnight GMT last night (visible above) was an indicator of something, but what?

The reason could be to cover the westerly position of Loick Peyron and Innovation Explorer. But if Lewis and Dalton thought they were clear of the Doldrums, they would be more likely to give up their easterly position slowly, reaching down in front of Peyron at a wider, faster wind angle over a longer period of time (as we explained yesterday), rather than trying to get west so quickly.

Weather at 0830, 10/1/01

It's not obvious from the Virtual Spectator weather image above - which shows the broad picture of dominant Azores and South Atlantic Highs, trade wind zone and Doldrums in between - but a look at the US charts reveals the Doldrums moving south with the two leaders. And in particular the weather is digging a big windless pothole in the road just south of the Equator (which Club Med and Team Adventure crossed this morning) and east of around 26W or 27W. In other words, right in front of Dalton and Lewis - and I think this is the reason they have taken a dive to the west.
Innovation Explorer could be the big gainer here, as she is already on a course to miss this newly developing zone of Doldrums conditions. And at the 0800 GMT report this morning she was going a full thirteen knots quicker, with the gap to Club Med down to 174 miles.

continued on page two

Click for new window with link to Virtual SpectatorMap images courtesy of Virtual Spectator, click here to go to The Race site for a free download of the software.

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