Lewis battles bad weather to get to The Race

But PlayStation and Bullimore sit tight as organisers cancel the Prologue in Monaco

Tuesday December 12th 2000, Author: Andy Rice, Location: United Kingdom
The race to get to The Race goes on for a number of the challengers, although the Prologue in Monaco has now been cancelled. A statement from Monaco explained the reasons for calling off the event: "Having followed and studied the progress of the challengers’ boats, which have put out to sea despite a current storm over the Atlantic coasts and Southern England, the Principality of Monaco wishes to pay a tribute to the valorous crews who have expanded many efforts to reach the Mediterranean.
"According to the weather forecast, these extremely unfavourable conditions should persist over the next few days. To prevent the crews and the boats from being exposed to unnecessary risks before the start from Barcelona on 31st December 2000, the Principality of Monaco, concerned about the challengers’ security, have decided to cancel the 'Monte-Carlo Prologue' of The Race."

Meanwhile in England, Team Legato slipped her moorings on Tuesday morning and Tony Bullimore has ventured out from Bristol as far as the mouth of the Avon. She's now through the Clifton Bridge and anchored at the mouth of the river, ready to go and no longer locked inside by the tidal conditions - height of water - under the bridge.

Further down the coast, PlayStation is holding tight in Falmouth for the time being. American adventurer Steve Fossett, the owner of the recently lengthened 125-foot catamaran, commented: "We now believe there is a weather window to leave on Wednesday (13th December) - and round Cap Finisterre, continuing directly on to Barcelona in about six days.

"I am certainly sorry to have disappointed those Race fans who had hoped to see PlayStation in Monaco - we had been ready to leave Southampton for over a week, but December weather systems just have not cooperated. We hope most of them [other challengers] can come to Barcelona - if not, then we'll look forward to seeing them all at the finish in Marseille!"

Elsewhere, Cam Lewis’ Team Adventure mega-catamaran has already begun the hard work, having crossed the stormy Bay of Biscay on her way south to the Mediterranean. The American skipper and his crew sent a satellite email message to team headquarters in Maine that they were battling 40-knot head winds and rough seas under shortened sail as they fought to get south into warmer, calmer conditions.

On Monday afternoon the 110-foot catamaran was located 60 miles west of Cape Finisterre, at the north-west tip of Portugal. The boat was making eight knots, after making very slow progress during the night.

"Conditions on board are OK, although not comfortable," Lewis said in his message. "We had time this morning to make a safety check and no problem was detected. Sailing upwind in a gale is not the boat’s favourite condition as you may guess. At least it makes for a good test and so far so good, except for some minor details."

Bill Biewenga, an experienced offshore sailor and navigator who is the onshore router for Team Adventure, said the boat could expect the same rough weather conditions for the next 24 to 36 hours. The boat has another 450 miles to go south before she can turn the corner at the south-west corner of Portugal and another 200 miles to Gibraltar where she will enter the Mediterranean. Light weather conditions are forecast for the last 1,000 miles to Monaco. But after hearing that the Prologue had been cancelled, Lewis headed for cover in a Spanish port.

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