The Race - 0830 - 6/2/01

Oceans apart - story by Sean McNeill, for Quokka Sports

Tuesday February 6th 2001, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: United Kingdom
With Cape Horn the next land mass on the radar after passing through Cook Strait, Club Med and Innovation Explorer are settling into turbulent life in the Southern Ocean.

The Horn lies some 3,000 miles to the east -- about a week's sailing with a strong depression for the 110-foot catamarans -- and the weather gods are brewing a tempest for the two racers.

Grant Dalton's Club Med leads the charge east, and is pushing deep into southern latitudes. While they rarely dipped as low as 50 S in the South Indian Ocean, now Dalton feels compelled to push down to the Great Circle Route.

"It's really windy, it seems we are destined to sail in strong winds all the time, all the way around the world. Right now there are 40 to 50 knots out here, the waves are not too bad yet," Dalton said yesterday. "We wanted the south and we have kept going south. Right now we are at 52 South and it isn't over yet, we'll be going deeper still."

Shore-based router Roger "Clouds" Badham explained the team's rationale for the different theories. "We believe that this section of The Race is different from the Indian Ocean. In the Indian Ocean you avoid the south but in the Pacific you need the south," said Badham. "Yes, it is colder; yes, it is windier, but the miles are just so much shorter that you just have to bite the bullet and head on down."

Badham added, "We pushed down hard a couple of days ago and then we've took another stab at it yesterday. Innovation Explorer can't get down here at the moment. Their route is blocked by a little system that they have to deal with first. Our position should pay off nicely for us over the next few days."

At 1900 GMT yesterday, Loïck Peyron's Innovation Explorer trailed 660 miles behind Club Med, a fairly static deficit (give or take 20 miles) since Peyron decided not to stop in Wellington for repairs. Club Med was below the 53rd parallel, while Innovation was almost at 47 S.

The long, white cat with its name emblazoned on the hulls joined Club Med in the Western Hemisphere, while Team Adventure, Warta-Polpharma and Team Legato were still in the eastern half of the world. "We opened a little bottle yesterday to celebrate crossing the antemeridian. The GPS is now indicating a little 'W' for west, rather than 'E' for east," said Innovation crewman Thierry Douillard last night. "We're getting ready to suffer our first real storm. We're going to hook on tonight, tomorrow will be more favorable."

While the crew was able to sort out its problems, particularly the broken daggerboard, without having to call in Wellington, they're bracing for the onset of a storm. "The biggest we've had since the start", predicted Skip Novak.

Yesterday marked Day 36 for competitors in The Race. Club Med had 9,894.2 nautical miles left to the finish, having already completed more than 13,000 miles of the course. Still, the crew is finding its feet in certain maneuvers.

"We are becoming more and more confident in handling our boat in these conditions," Dalton said. "Our last jibe was executed with the spinnaker set in 40 knots of wind, something we would never have done a few weeks ago. It takes about half an hour to jibe the boat, even with two reefs in. The hairy bit is when the main is on the centerline before we go through the wind."

Standings (at 0700 GMT, 6/2/01)

1 Club Med 9,663.9 miles to the finish
2 Innovation Explorer, +603.3 miles
3 Team Adventure, +4,639.2 miles
4 Warta-Polpharma, +5,296.0 miles
5 Team Legato, +6,384.6 miles

First published on QuokkaSailing.com, republished with permission.

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