Two different tactics

Paul Cayard explains why there is a north-south split in the Volvo fleet approaching Cape Horn

Saturday February 9th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Positions at 0958 this morning
Yacht Lat Long DTF CMG SMG DTL DTL-C
1 illbruck 57 43.96S 078 00.44W 2,620 081 14.3 - -
2 Amer One 57 55.84S 078 59.64W 2,653 081 13.4 33 +5
3 Tyco 58 57.00S 078 58.76W 2,670 071 12.3 50 +12
4 News Corp 57.47.44S 079 48.96W 2,678 086 14.1 58 +3
5 Assa Abloy 59 96.72S 079 32.64W 2,690 074 13.6 70 +5
6 djuice 58 40.16S 080 38.92W 2,714 068 12.7 94 +11
7 Amer Too 57 02.64S 094 48.44W 3,161 097 14.4 541 -1
8 SEB 58 05.92S 097 58.80W 3,274 082 7.2 654 +46

A day out still from Cape Horn, it is snowing and a north-south split has taken place among the front six with illbruck, Amer One and News Corp taking the northerly approach to Cape Horn while Tyco, Assa and djuice taking a more southerly approach.

From the chart table of Amer Sports One Paul Cayard explains what is going on:

It has been a mild 24 hours, and we are making good headway toward the Horn. 477 miles to go as I write this and we are doing 17 knots right at it. Should be there in the morning on Sunday.

The big strategy game for the past 24 hours was how far south to go for the long port gybe into the Horn. All models agreed that at some point you had to get down on the port layline as there will be a right shift over the last 500 miles in and less wind at the Horn so you want to come in hot. The question was how soon to hit that layline. 500 miles is a long layline to call.

We use two principal meteorological models: the US model called MRF and the British model called Bracknell. The MRF wanted you to go down the port lay line 600 miles out and the Bracknell was a bit more conservative, taking it in two bites.

We decided to go with the Bracknell model as you can see from our route on Virtual Spectator. ASSA ABLOY and Tyco followed the MRF more closely. All the while News Corp has been an interesting tell tale to the north, with their continual gains showing us more breeze up there. Once the wind started going right yesterday afternoon, you were locked in to your lane as it would be too expensive to gybe on the header.

So we are all locked in and waiting for the answer. So far the upper middle looks good, with us and illbruck making big gains on ASSA ABLOY and Tyco, but News Corp is still gaining on us. The wind could be lighter at the Horn and the guys on the outside may come on strong. Also, Tyco and ASSA ABLOY may have a plan to take the Horn and Falklands Islands wide to the east to set up their run up to Rio. If this is the case we will not be able to make a judgement on their positioning for a few days.

We have had snow falling from the squalls during the past two days. It is beautiful to sail in the snow when you have the right gear as we do. Got enough of it to make little piles on the deck when it slid off the main.

Since the sailing has gotten a bit more tame, I have gotten into cooking the past few days. It is a nice change of duty. My best dish was ‘pene alfredo’. Of course, this stuff is all freeze dried so you just heat it up. Still I try to add a few little extras like salt and olive oil. We have olive oil because we need a bit of fat in our diet. It is amazing to see the viscosity of olive oil down here...very thick. Put your olive oil in the refrigerator and you will see what ours looks like.

Pepe [Ribes Rubio], our Spanish bowman was giving me compliments on tonight's dinner, which was beef stew and mashed potatoes. He said in a very strong Spanish accent, "Berry good Paul." I said, "really?". Pepe said, "Well, not for making company, but good for be on a boat in the middle of nowhere". I guess I have finally made it as a chef on a yacht.

The boat is getting a bit dryer inside and my clothes are drying out as well.

Roger and I are looking at the weather information for the wind at the Horn and up to the Falklands Islands, now to plan that part of the race. Looks pretty fast, reaching or fetching on port so we should be up towards the Falklands in 50 hours.

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