The Race - 1030 - 16/2/01

Mark Chisnell reports as Dalton has to slow and Team Adventure hits the pits again

Friday February 16th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
It was Grant Dalton that slammed the brakes on Club Med (light blue) yesterday morning, and he's still got his foot jammed on that slow pedal 24 hours later. Club Med were down to eight knots this morning, and their lead over Loick Peyron and Innovation Explorer (green) had tumbled by 200 miles in 24 hours.

Leaders at 0800, 16/2/01

Dalton commented to his shore team yesterday afternoon, "We've had to slow it right down. We are sailing in 20 to 25 knots of wind but we can't let the boatspeed rise above 12 knots. We'd just destroy the boat if we did. As a result we are sailing with three reefs and the storm staysail set."

"The waves are not enormous, about 2.5 metres high but have a really short wavelength. On a mono-hull the rig would be the part that suffers the most, but on a multi-hull it is the crossbeams that take the loads and shocks. The hulls are so far apart that they are always in different wavetrains, one is rising whilst the other is falling. The beams are the parts that keep them together and they are working overtime right now."

Dalts went on, "It's still dark so we haven't been able to do our daily full inspection of the boat yet. But until then we are trapped in this strange wave area with no escape but to be patient and nurse the boat through." It's possible that some of this bad sea has been generated by that small, but intense and fast moving, low pressure that's now to the south-east of Club Med.

But Club Med's overall strategy remained the same, "Next up for us, situated on the top of the South Atlantic High, is an increasing breeze, all the way up to 30 knots on the wind. We are on port tack heading north-east, we will be headed and headed and will eventually tack onto starboard and sail up into the trades. This will be in about 36 hours. At this point we will be doing real damage to Innovation Explorer as it is relatively straightforward sailing from then on." concluded Dalton.

So while the accordion between the pair is contracting right now, Dalton is happy that it will be expanding again soon enough. Innovation Explorer had their own highs and lows yesterday, in the morning Skip Novak reported, "We have been more or less becalmed in between periods of ghosting along at minimum speed on a glassy ocean. Roger (Nilson) was not quite clear, or sure himself if we are in a low or high - the barometer is flat and showing no tendency like the wind. Various pundits want us to go east, but in a calm it is not easy to get there. So we wait."
And before long their patience was rewarded, a west-south-westerly arrived, "We are going fast, the wind is blowing 15 to 20 knots and we are doing around 20 and 25 knots," Mouette announced from onboard, "The sea is flat and we're sailing at 120 degrees to the wind." And that's when they started to really cut into Dalton's lead.

Weather at 0800, 17/2/01Looking ahead to the forecast for Saturday morning, the high pressure which is just starting to edge off South America this morning (above), is going to get some serious pace on eastwards (right).

That is one huge road block for the Innovation Explorer crew, while it looks as though Club Med will beat its spread north and stay in the breeze as Dalton predicts. But although Peyron and his team will soon be slowed, it may not be for that long. The forecast has the high pressure continuing to move quickly east, joining with the main, old South Atlantic high and clearing out of Innovation Explorer's way by the end of the weekend.

Another cheery thought for those aboard Innovation Explorer is that they have another record, traversing the Southern Ocean route - Cape of Good Hope to Cape Horn via the chicane in New Zealand - in 21 days, seven hours and five minutes, or just one hour and 25 minutes less than Club Med.
continued on page two

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