The Race - 1230 - 3/2/01

Innovation Explorer nails 629 miles in 24 hours, story by Sean McNeill, for Quokka Sports

Saturday February 3rd 2001, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: United Kingdom
Loïck Peyron's crew found perfect speed conditions in the Tasman Sea and let their stead rip, averaging 26.6 knots over 24 hours to up the outright speed record by four miles.

While Club Med wallowed through Cook Strait on its way to the Pacific Ocean, Innovation Explorer was charging up from behind and in the process of stealing the world 24-hour speed record from its blue-hulled rival.

At 1200 GMT yesterday, Loïck Peyron and the crew on Innovation Explorer completed a 24-hour run of 629.5 miles, surpassing the 625.7-mile record set last June by Club Med. They averaged 26.6 knots. "We are celebrating in a dignified manner, with a Bordeaux grand cru, a little record," Peyron said.

"Roger (Nilson) is checking the figures closely but it would seem that we have performed rather well. We put our foot down, gently, but just enough, on a nicely smoothed sea, for a long time with full main and big gennaker. We even took in a reef in the middle of the day before sending it all back up again with the night. We even took advantage of the obscurity to hoist our poor 'patchwork' reacher, horrible to look at but terribly efficient."

Innovation achieved its great distance sailing ahead of the anticyclone that was predicted to shut down the Tasman Sea this week. Both Club Med and Innovation Explorer fretted over the potential light winds that never appeared.

Club Med, however, did find light winds in Cook Strait and to the east of New Zealand after it exited the body of water separating North and South Island. According to the 1900 GMT position report last night, Club Med led Innovation Explorer by 500.4 miles. Twenty-four hours earlier Club Med's lead was a robust 820 miles. Club Med, struggling to windward in light winds to the east of the South Island, was making 11 knots. Innovation Explorer, struggling to climb up the West Coast of the South Island to Cape Farewell, was making 10.4 knots.

Innovation's charge will likely come to a halt. Although Peyron has remained evasive about a possible stop in Wellington, all the preparations appear to have been made in the port to receive Innovation Explorer. A stop for outside assistance requires a layover of 48 hours.

Meantime, a huge depression centered well to the south is generating steady westerly winds, tracing a nice boulevard ahead of Club Med's bows.

Standings at 1100 GMT

1 Club Med, 11,022.3 miles to the finish
2 Innovation Explorer, +486.7 miles
3 Team Adventure, +4,196.8 miles
4 Warta-Polpharma, +4,895.1 miles
5 Team Legato, +6,195 miles

First published on QuokkaSailing.com, republished with permission.

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