The Race - 0630 - 27/2/01

Mark Chisnell reports as Dalton gets the breeze

Tuesday February 27th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
After a nervous 24 hours or more, Grant Dalton and Club Med (light blue) have finally touched the breeze that they have been expecting. Dalton commented yesterday, "We've been sailing really slowly for the past 24 hours. This wind hasn't filled in as quickly as expected. But when it does we'll be gone. We've been heading north to get to the wind rather than sailing the course to Gibraltar, so our rate of approach to the finish has dropped. We had no wind all night."

Leaders at 2300, 26/2/01

We can see from the weather from last night, that Club Med was just feeling the southerly breeze from the big depression to their north-west. It was left to Jacques Caraes to deliver the good news in his report to the Race Office, "We touched the first effects of the depression a good three hours ago. We're not yet on a direct route but it won't be long. The wind for the moment is southerly, then it will gradually turn south-westerly."

Now they are in the breeze from this low, it's possible the red carpet could unroll for them. The Race Office Met man, Gilles Chiori from Météo Consult, reckoned, "This low is moving very slowly at about ten knots. This means that they will be going faster than it, and they will be able to get maximum benefit from it. They will first of all put in a little northing to avoid a small area of high pressure then they will curve round onto the direct route. It might even accompany them as far as Gibraltar and even then on into the Mediterranean ..."

Leaders at 2000, 28/2/01The weather for Wednesday evening (right), shows the low's slow progress towards Portugal, and the path of south-westerly breeze that it is laying down in front of Club Med, which seems to stretch all the way to the Straits of Gibraltar.

Behind, it looks like the elastic is going to get stretched again as Innovation Explorer (green) have to cross that extended ridge of high pressure. After seeing their lead of over 1200 miles almost halved as Loick Peyron and his crew cruised across a belt of practically non-existent Doldrums, Dalton and co should start to pile up the advantage once more.

It could be the end game, Dalton reckoned yesterday afternoon, "Looking back on the Atlantic since Cape Horn, we've been on the wrong side of everything. We have had walls thrown up in front of us, and weather patterns that should never have been there block our progress.

"Every time we managed to get through we have had to watch as the second placed boat slipped through the same area without having the same problems. It is really frustrating. When this wind comes through however, it will be end of the last gate, the last weather window and effectively the last chance for Innovation Explorer to get past."

continued on page two

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