The Race - 1230 - 7/2/01

Mark Chisnell reports as the leaders go on iceberg alert

Wednesday February 7th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
Ice alert for the leaders in The Race, as Club Med's navigator, Mike Quilter, informed Denis Horeau, the duty race officer, "Big Mother iceberg at 58° 48 S, 135° 31 W, please advise others." With Club Med blasting through the Southern Ocean, covering 532 miles in the last 24 hours, they will be approaching these objects at an unpleasant speed. Quilter will be spending plenty of time on radar watch, and they will be thankful that the hours of darkness are short in these latitudes at this time of year.

Leaders at 0700, 7/2/01

They will also be grateful that apart from the ice, conditions for Grant Dalton and his Club Med crew (light blue) have been reasonable - despite the fact that they are in almost exactly the same position in the high pressure ridge as yesterday. Dalton was unhappy about this earlier, but it's working for him at the moment.

Loick Peyron and Innovation Explorer (green) have been caught in strong westerly winds to the north of the low pressure. They cannot go south after Dalton because they risk getting caught by extreme storm conditions near the centre of the low. And they don't want to go too far north, because they are adding extra miles to the course. So, as we can see from his track, Peyron is being forced to gybe downwind. And VMG running is a point of sail his doesn't have any decent spinnakers for, result; Dalton has gained more than 120 miles in the last 24 hours.

Weather at 1400, 8/2/01But looking forward to the forecast for Thursday afternoon (right), the low pressure to the south of Peyron and to the west of Dalton is going to become the dominant system.

It's forecast to move east and push the high pressure back up where it belongs, into the South Pacific. That will provide ample breeze for both these boats for the next few days.

The problem will likely be the rough sea state that could be churned up by the front on that system, and the dying ridge to the east of it.

It's possible that Dalton will be unable to break through this - something similar happened back in the Indian Ocean - and by then the low will have dipped far enough south for Peyron to stay on starboard gybe and chase down after Dalton. But the speed of these boats relative to the weather is still difficult to judge, and sea state is such a big factor, that we will have to wait and see.

continued on page two

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