The Race - 0630 - 1/3/01

Mark Chisnell reports as Club Med hiccups, Team Adventure rounds the Horn and the Poles get into a real race

Thursday March 1st 2001, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
A little ruffle in the red carpet for Grant Dalton and his team aboard Club Med (light blue). After heading a little too far east too early, they ran back into the ridge of high pressure. And you can see the avoiding action - a hitch to the north with some west in it - in their track below.

Fleet at 0300, 1/3/01

Dalton commented, "It has been a really slow night. We are basically dealing with the remnants of a ridge of high pressure. Our 'favourite' depression has been slowed down on its route east. So to stay going fast we have had to go and hunt the wind down.

"We are sailing in southerly winds and the shift to the south-west with pressure just hasn't come through for us yet. For quite a time last night we had to sail with almost no gain in distance towards the line just to keep repositioning ourselves for what we think will happen later. The forecast weather charts for the North Atlantic are now beginning to look more like what is really happening and because we are so reliant on these we have lost a bit of time."

The strategy recovered their position though and early yesterday afternoon they were back in the south-westerly breeze from the low pressure, ticking off the miles to Marseille, and closing on a three figure distance to run this morning.

Relief too for Innovation Explorer, they finally reached the breeze from the low pressure at about the same time. But Peyron is making absolutely sure of it, and has yet to turn east, preferring to continue north and make sure his boat is fully locked into this new wind.

Weather at 0000, 3/3/01Looking ahead to the forecast for Saturday (right) it seems there is little that can derail Dalton's parade. The low has moved over the Western Approaches, there's another one behind it and the result is solid west or south-westerly breeze all the way from the mid-Atlantic to Marseille.

There will be plenty blowing through the Straits of Gibraltar, with 35 knots on the weather forecasts, Dalton declared, "With the effects of the mountains, we're expecting 40." Club Med should reach Gibraltar by Saturday afternoon and only desperately bad luck can rob them of a remarkable circumnavigation time, and a superb victory. "So close to the coast, it's the Unidentified Floating Objects we fear the most", said Jacques Caraès from on board.

As to when they will be home, Dalton is still adamant about making predictions. "This last weather problem has set us back about 12 hours so far and I could never rule out not seeing the same thing happening again. That is exactly why I hate playing the ETA game, you can look really stupid really quickly making estimates, and because these boats can go so fast it is rather easy to get time predictions badly wrong."

continued on page two

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