The Race - 0930 - 5/2/01

Mark Chisnell reports as the race to the Horn begins

Monday February 5th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
It seems that in the end it was all bluff - there were no waiting boatbuilders on the dock in Wellington and Loick Peyron never wanted to stop. The crew of Innovation Explorer repaired their boat in the milder conditions they got once out of the Southern Ocean, and the much discussed pit-stop never happened.

Worse, Innovation Explorer got almost perfect conditions through New Zealand - much to Dalton's chagrin. But from the way they managed to break the all-comers 24 hour record on the approach to Cook Strait, there was never much wrong with Innovation Explorer anyway.

Leaders at 0700, 5/2/01

And now the race to Cape Horn has started in earnest, with Club Med (light blue) and Dalton having an advantage of almost 700 miles this morning. Aboard Innovation Explorer (green), Peyron and his crew had much the easier passage through Cook Strait, helped by a Southern Ocean low pressure system that swept across the South Island, providing the fierce westerly breeze for which the straits are famed. But what goes around comes around, and Club Med are now firmly tagged onto that very same low pressure system and are once again doing big miles in typical Southern Ocean conditions.

Weather at 2250, 5/2/01But according to the Virtual Spectator forecast for later today (right), this weather pattern is set to get more complex - particularly for Peyron and his crew.

The low pressure currently centred south-west of Dalton is going to spin off a new, intense depression, which will form and move north into the path of Innovation Explorer, before sinking south-east.

It looks as though this will have some very strong northerly breeze on its front edge, and Peyron may well have to hold his boat north, off the direct route to the Horn, to stay out of the worst of this one.

Dalton faces a different challenge, Club Med should easily stay in front of this low when it begins to move south-east. But the big Pacific high pressure dominating the top right corner of the image is forecast to ridge down into the Southern Ocean.

The high pressure ridge will provide a barrier that will stall the low pressure, and drop the windspeed to make a hurdle for Club Med to cross. But we've seen these cats chew up light air before, and conditions on the edge of that high could actually be ideal for Dalton and his crew.

continued on page two

Click for new window with link to Virtual SpectatorMap images courtesy of Virtual Spectator, click here to go to The Race site for a free download of the software.

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