The Race - 0830 - 12/01/01

Rich getting richer - story by Sean McNeill for QuokkaSailing.com

Friday January 12th 2001, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: United Kingdom
The rich are getting richer in The Race, as Club Med and Team Adventure speed southward and away from the main competition, Innovation Explorer and PlayStation.

Powered up by the south-easterly trade winds, Club Med and Team Adventure are pulling away from the competition while sparring with each other and eyeing the 24-hour record.

"This continues to be a show of strength between Team Adventure and ourselves," Club Med's Grant Dalton said today. "Neither boat can back off whilst the other is running this fast. Normally the rich get richer going south, but we are right beside Team Adventure so there is no breakaway. Innovation Explorer, however, seems to be wallowing back there nearly 250 miles behind."

Last night's 2300 GMT position report shows Club Med just seven miles ahead of Team Adventure. Earlier, at the 0700 GMT report, Club Med was 44 miles ahead of Cam Lewis' Team Adventure.

Both boats were slicing through the South Atlantic at breakneck speeds some 450 miles east of Recife, Brazil. Both were sailing at 20 knots, increasing the possibility that the 24-hour speed record could fall. Club Med set the 625.7-mile mark last June, an average of 26.1 knots, and at 2300 had covered 530 miles in the last 24 hours. Team Adventure was outpacing its heavier sistership, having covered 557 miles in the same time period.

Early yesterday morning, Dalton said, "The pace has cracked on over the last hour or so; we are doing between 26 and 32 knots constantly. Over the next 24 hours, the 24-hour record might tumble."

The south-easterly trade winds are propelling the leaders toward great speeds, which could continue over the next 24 hours. According to Gilles Chiorri of Météo Consult, The Race's official weather service, the St. Helene high-pressure system isn't well established in the South Atlantic. There are two bubbles of high pressure to the east and west, and a tiny opening in between.

Club Med and Team Adventure are aiming for this opening, which could drastically shorten their route to the Roaring Forties. If they're able to get through the opening, they wouldn't have to sail west of the light winds associated with the St. Helene area.

That opening may not be there for Loïck Peyron's Innovation Explorer, which in the last 24 hours has lost considerable distance to the front-runners. At 2300 Innovation Explorer trailed Club Med by 254 miles, although by this morning the losses had been stemmed and Peyron had grabbed a handful back at 246 miles behind Dalton.

Farther back, Steve Fossett's PlayStation has also lost miles while crossing the Doldrums. Early this morning, navigator Stan Honey talked about the weather conditions: "We are in the midst of the ITCZ now, at Lat 3 South. We have had only one squall over 30 knots; the rest of our trials have been with light and shifty air and the calms associated with the rain cells."

PlayStation trailed Club Med by 669 miles at 0700 GMT - the losses pushing up towards 300 miles.

Standings at 0700 GMT 12/1/01

1. Club Med
2. Team Adventure +4.2 nm
3. Innovation Explorer +245.7 nm
4. PlayStation +669.3 nm
5. Warta Polpharma +931.9 nm
6. Team Legato +1924.5 nm

First published on QuokkaSailing.com, republished with permission.

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