Headwinds to Cape Town

The pain continues for the Around Alone fleet

Wednesday November 6th 2002, Author: Mary Ambler, Location: Transoceanic
Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group-Armor Lux has pulled out further miles on his class one competitors at the front of the Around Alone fleet as he and the chasing pack 250 miles behind arch to the south east attempting to get around the South Atlantic high pressure system.

However the weather in store for the frontrunners is looking quite complex at the moment. At present the boats are under the influence of two high pressure systems - one to the southwest, the other to the southeast. The one to the southeast was originally situated in its usual spot in the middle of the south Atlantic, but has since been tracking southeast and turning more sausage shaped (on a NW-SE axis) - frustrating for the competitors as the idea is that you should sail around the bottom of the high in order to keep following winds to Cape Town.

Fortunately over the next 24 hours this high pressure looks like it will get shoved north due to the effect of a deep low pressure system in the south and then being absorbed by another currently lying to the southeast of the boats within 48 hours. The boats are likely to sail through the midde of this transitional period and as the second high pressure system is centres at 40degS, it is likely that the competitors will once again be facing an upwind ride to Cape Town, still currently 2,000 miles away.

Today race leader Bernard Stamm confirmed that this might be the case. “There is a risk that I’ll run into headwinds and have a real nightmare passing underneath the high pressure system to find favourable winds. If the system climbs towards me, I might well sail straight into a windless zone. What’s more, my rivals will come back on me with breeze behind. So the last four days have been all about getting as much sea between my boat and theirs. For now the South Atlantic High looks like it’s heading for the Indian Ocean and I have to take advantage of that, but it’s risky business.”

Further to the north Class 2 leader American Brad van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America was nursing a tired body. "Last night was one of the worst of my sailing career," he expressed in a satellite call this afternoon. "I have always disliked the Doldrums, but now I can truly say that I hate the place." Sometime after midnight last night Brad got caught in massive squall. "It was more of a weather front than a squall," Brad said. "The wind started to build and then before I knew it, it was blowing 55 knots from the southeast." I was in a full gale for five hours."

Despite the lousy night, Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America had recovered and was sailing in a steady southerly wind making good speed towards Cape Town. This is a lot more than can be said for the rest of the class. John Dennis on Bayer Ascensia emailed to say, “flat calm and hot all day today. 0.7 to 2 knots of boat speed.” Things were not much better on BTC Velocity where Alan Paris was dealing with a similar situation. “ BTC Velocity has 1.8 knots from nowhere in particular, and for most of last night the wind was less than 6 knots . This is painful. At 6 knots of wind speed we can move quite nicely, but with less than 2 knots, the boat speed is less than a knot.”

See page two to read about Pindar's gooseneck troubles and page three for the latest account from Graham Dalton.

Positions at 1400hrs UTC 6th November 2002

Class 1
Boat, Time, Lat, Lon, DistRun, AvgBsp, AvgHeading, DTF (nm) DFL (nm)

1 Bobst Group Armor-Lux, 29 02.480 S, 15 17.320 W, 108.79 nm, 13.60 kt, 138 °T, 1745.39 nm
2 Pindar, 23 46.600 S, 16 55.120 W, 101.88 nm, 12.73 kt, 154 °T, 1998.31 nm, 252.9nm
3 Solidaires, 23 43.840 S, 17 46.600 W, 101.15 nm, 12.65 kt, 149 °T, 2034.53 nm, 289.1nm
4 Hexagon, 22 32.080 S, 23 01.000 W, 100.29 nm, 12.54 kt, 164 °T, 2304.14 nm, 558.8nm
5 Ocean Planet, 6 01.600 N, 23 14.520 W, 28.86 nm, 3.61 kt, 166 °T, 4447.93 nm, 2702.5nm
6 Tiscali, 43 27.320 N, 8 21.000 W, 0.00 nm, 0.00 kt, 0 °T, 6799.83 nm, 5054.4nm

Class 2
Boat, Time, Lat, Lon, DistRun, AvgBsp, AvgHeading, DTF (nm) DFL (nm)
1 Tommy Hilfiger, 3 48.760 N, 26 34.080 W, 56.86 nm, 7.11 kt, 185 °T, 4231.88 nm,
2 Spirit of Canada, 10 27.120 N, 24 44.320 W, 44.02 nm, 5.50 kt, 223 °T, 4644.16 nm, 412.3nm
3 Spirit of yukoh, 9 18.440 N, 21 44.160 W, 34.80 nm, 4.35 kt, 219 °T, 4659.75 nm, 427.9nm
4 Everest Horizontal, 11 25.680 N, 24 26.160 W, 40.61 nm, 5.08 kt, 213 °T, 4705.37 nm, 473.5nm
5 Bayer Ascensia, 11 03.000 N, 22 15.800 W, 2.02 nm, 2.42 kt, 235 °T, 4733.58 nm, 501.7nm
6 BTC Velocity, 10 58.840 N, 21 46.160 W, 14.21 nm, 1.78 kt, 236 °T, 4743.92 nm, 512nm

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