The Race - 1230 - 2/2/01Grant Dalton and Club Med led at one of the most significant waypoints of The Race at 0400 GMT this morning.
The passage through the Cook Straits between the North and South Islands of New Zealand was always going to add a little spice, as the boats would have to leave the relatively consistent low pressure systems of the Southern Ocean and take their chances in the more unpredictable Tasman Sea.
Add to that the 'will he, won't he' of Loick Peyron and Innovation Explorer's stop-over, and these two elements of the race instructions have maintained interest in what otherwise might have become a pretty dull parade by now.
The Virtual Spectator image (above) shows Dalton's track (light blue) through the Cook Straits. But the wriggles and the plummeting gap to Innovation Explorer (green) tell of the struggle of the big blue cat to free itself from the land - Peyron and his boys had closed by almost 250 miles by 1100 GMT this morning.
Dalton told the world, "It's been a really tough day, on the one side fantastic to be sailing slowly through one of the most beautiful parts of the world ... But terrible to know that our competition are sailing at 27 knots and knowing that our hard-earned lead is disappearing fast."
If it wasn't bad enough for Dalton already already, the latest report from The Race Office is that Innovation Explorer have grabbed the 24 hour distance run record with a mileage of 629.19 to 1100 GMT this morning. If confirmed by the speed sailing authorities, that would beat by four miles the record that Loick Peyron's brother - Bruno, the man behind the race - helped set on Club Med back in June during their east to west transatlantic record.
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Map images courtesy of Virtual Spectator, click here to go to The Race site for a free download of the software.