The Race - 1030 - 12/2/01

Mark Chisnell reports as Dalts cruises north and Innovation Explorer batten the hatches

Monday February 12th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
Mike Quilter's email from the navigation station aboard Club Med said it all, "We rounded Cape Horn at 0430 GMT on 11th February. A 25-knot south of south-west wind, flying the big gennaker and mainsail. A beautiful moonlit night, so we had a clear view of Cape Horn. Now we all have the right to pee into the wind "

It has taken Club Med just 41 days and nine hours to sail from Barcelona to Cape Horn. The journey time for the legendary Southern Ocean section from the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Horn has taken just 22 days - both were unthinkable achievements ten years ago.

Leaders at 12/2/01

As we can see from the chart (above) just over 24 hours later and Cape Horn is already a distant memory for the crew of Club Med. They scooted around ahead of those major double depressions and will now be more worried about high pressure in the South Atlantic than low pressure in the Southern Ocean.

Not so for those with Loick Peyron aboard Innovation Explorer. Dalton's been warning about them getting a pasting as they rounded the Horn for a couple of days, and yesterday Elena Caputo told the Race Office, "We've got three reefs in the main and the wind is picking up. Yes, the wind is on the increase and it is already between 25 and 40 knots. Quite a strong blow is forecast but it would appear that the low is going to show up a bit later than planned. So, we should be getting round the Horn with a maximum wind of 40 knots and well before the lows."

That's still plenty of breeze for the notorious Drake Passage, where Cape Horn stretches out towards the Antarctic Peninsula and throttles the incoming Southern Ocean swells and wind in shallow water and a constricted channel. It was here that Bruno Peyron's first sub-80 day Jules Verne Trophy run nearly hit the rocks, literally, as they were pinned onto the Chilean coast by a huge storm.

Weather at 1238 13/2/01But looking at the forecast for Tuesday (right), those twin low pressure systems are both set to fill a little and the conditions around the Horn are already as bad as they will get. But Innovation Explorer was still cranking at 22 knots this morning and should round the Cape today.

Grant Dalton and his weather and strategy team face a different problem, they have a huge high pressure system moving east right into their path. Dalton's problem is that ideally he wants to approach the Doldrums in the west (as we've just seen with the Vendee Globe) but the anti-clockwise circulation of this system means that there is northerly breeze is on the western side of this system along the Brazilian coast.

Dalton's faced with going upwind, or trying to break through the centre of the high - but that's exactly what they did going south through this part of the world, so why shouldn't it work again?

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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