The Race 20/03/01
Taking advantage of a strong following south-westerly, generated by a low centred over the Atlantic, Cam Lewis's catamaran should reach the mouth of the Straits of Gibraltar tomorrow, sometime in the day. A ridge of high pressure is parked over Gibraltar at the moment but the catamaran is going to try to force a way through helped by a small front.
Philippe Peché for whom it is his first circumnavigation gave us his impressions: "We have just overtaken an old freighter, a gas tanker that was having a job to make 15 knots. They saw a rocket pass them at 25/26 knots and must have wondered what on earth just happened to them. Otherwise, it's been a tremendous experience and what has marked me most about this circumnavigation is the boat, she's a magic boat, very fast, and in perfect condition now. On board, there are two things surprising: the sails which are still giving 85 % of their performance after 25,000 miles racing round the world, and our ropes. Everything has held really well, we have only broken a mainsheet and that was when had to "dump" it in a hurry. The new Spectra fibres have proved themselves, they are light and very efficient and could without problems be used on big cruising yachts."
Warta-Polpharma is making slow progress towards the port chosen for the repairs: Fortaleza in Brazil which the boat will reach probably around the March 22nd. Dariusz Drapella told us during today's radio chat session how it was difficult to estimate the time needed for repairs. "We must first of all carry out a thorough inspection of the hull once the boat has been hauled out of the water, and then the weather must be favourable (heat is need to cure the resins). We have talked a lot amongst ourselves about what we are going to do. We will take the decision to join Marseilles only if we can carry out a reliable repair within an acceptable delay, and we won't be taking risks with the boat".
Team Legato is still struggling with a high pressure system preventing her from going very fast. The crew is fine, despite the watches that come round faster and everybody is looking ahead to best negotiate the crossing of the Equator.
With the demise of the Poles on Warta Polpharma on Monday following their retirement from The Race, the battle for Tony Bullimore and his Team Legato crew is now strictly against the clock. With 4,697 miles still to cover in the 13.5 days that remain before the clock stops in Marseilles at 19:56 on 2nd April, the crew are desperate to find the stronger trade winds that will carry them up to the Equator.
St James's Yachting, Team Legato's weather routers, are hopeful that Tony and his crew will experience 15-18 knot winds from the southeast on tomorrow which will then carry them at high speed right up to the Doldrums, currently some 1,600 miles to the north. "If we get these winds soon, and can pass through the Doldrums without too much of a hold-up in the calms, then we have a chance to beat the time limit," said Tony. "It's all down to what the wind gods give us this week."
Leading positions at 07:00 GMT today
1. Club Med Finished Marseilles 19:56GMT 3.03.01
2. Innovation Explorer Finished Marseilles 11:32GMT 6.03.01
3. Team Adventure +1,196 miles - Crossed Equator 13.03.01
4. Team Legato +3,501 miles - Cape Horn 11.03.01
5. Warta Polpharma RETIRED 19.03.01
6. PlayStation - RETIRED 14.01.01