The Race - 1430 - 9/1/01

Mark Chisnell reports as the leaders hit the wall ... well, the gate, and it's open

Tuesday January 9th 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
It looks like leader Grant Dalton and Club Med (light blue), and challenger Cam Lewis's Team Adventure (orange) have hit the Doldrums, although in the case of these awesomely powerful machines, it's more of a gate than a wall.

The high average speeds have fallen - Club Med's from 16 knots at 0430 GMT to seven knots by 0700 GMT this morning. While Team Adventure has reduced the gap to Dalts and co from 60 miles to 38 in the same time period - before slowing to Club Med's pace for 0900GMT. But Dalts still has Lewis behind him, and while he may lose miles going into the Doldrums he'll also gain them again - if Club Med is the first into the south-east trade winds on the other side.

Fleet at 0830, 9/1/01

Over in Cornersville (population one) Loick Peyron and his team aboard Innovation Explorer (green) have really gone for the west this time. They are closing down the leaders fast - but no surprise as Peyron is still north of the Doldrums. The gap to Club Med was 322 miles at 0030 GMT this morning, 291 miles at 0430 GMT, 258 miles at 0700 GMT and 226 nm at 0900GMT. But again, catching up is one thing, getting out the other side of the Doldrums first is another.

The gap at midnight was so big because Innovation Explorer went even further west during yesterday, as we can see from the tracks, while both Dalts and Lewis headed straight south. Those crosshairs are at Club Med navigator Mike Quilter's 'Sweet Spot' for the Doldrums crossing (28W, as we discussed yesterday) and we can see that Peyron is headed pretty much for it, while Quilter himself is further east - maybe it's not Cornersville after all.

But it's all about the weather the fleet have actually got, rather than the statistical analysis and right now the Doldrums don't seem that extensive on the US computer models. The Race Office Met consultants (Météo Consult) agree and reckon no more than a hundred miles before the leaders start to see the south-east trades kick in - but this is not just about the Doldrums, it's also about the South Atlantic High.

continued on page two

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