The Race - 1030 - 15/1/01
With the race down to five and two of those trailing by four figure mileage numbers, attention now rests on the three Ollier sisterships. Ahead of the weekend it was clear that the South Atlantic High was going to be a bigger barrier to their progress than the Doldrums, and that's how it's turning out.
All three boats continued their course southwards through the weekend, electing to drive almost straight into the centre of the high pressure system. After Cam Lewis and Team Adventure (orange) went past Club Med (light blue) on Friday morning, Club Med's skipper Grant Dalton reckoned they had lost most of their earlier 40 odd mile advantage after a broken mainsheet cost them an hours sailing. But the breeze lightened as they approached the centre of the high, and Club Med finally got the lead back on Sunday.
Dalton puts the differences down to sails. "In moderate airs he (Team Adventure) is faster than us. We wouldn't be surprised to find that he has a small reacher/gennaker on board. We built one but we didn't like it and so we didn't bring it. For the light airs we built a Code Zero sail from North 3DL which we are really happy with. This sail is the main reason we pulled forwards on Team Adventure since the wind has dropped. As in all major international regattas sails are playing a really important part."
Restored to full speed and with the breeze down, Dalton has matched Cam Lewis's every move and has managed to reposition Club Med both back in front on the rankings and - more importantly - due south of Team Adventure. Dalton commented on Sunday, "We are ahead in The Race but significantly we are further south than Team Adventure.
"Yesterday we got the wind just right. We are just punching through the South Atlantic High. None of the weather models correspond. I think that if we had had ten different models and ten experts they'd each have come up with ten different opinions. This is when experience and gut feeling comes into it. Being further south is really important. You are the first to get picked up and just dragged along with the weather when it comes. We've got to get to 40 degrees south before anything significant is going to change."
The wild card is held by Loick Peyron and Innovation Explorer (green), with the leverage they have out to the west, paralleling their sistership's course as they swerved first west and then east as they hit the high. They've gained significantly as a result, almost 250 miles behind on Friday morning, by Sunday morning that gap was down to just 127. In the last 24 hours, Loick Peyron and his crew have continued to close, but not as quickly, this morning at 0700 the gap was 116 miles.
Map images courtesy of Virtual Spectator, click here to go to The Race site for a free download of the software.