The great divide

200 miles currently separates News Corp from djuice across the Volvo's South Atlantic race track

Thursday February 14th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Making Fast Tracks To The Barn - Paul Cayard reports from Amer Sports One

Since getting through the Estrada de la Maire, the fleet has averaged about 13 knots toward Rio. The forecast is for more reaching and then running for a few days in 20 knots of wind. If this actually happens, it will be a very fast trip indeed.

The sailing today started out as a very rough ride, jumping off eight-foot waves at 12 knots, tight reaching. This was very uncomfortable inside the boat for sleeping and for cooking. I cooked lunch and it was a workout just to not get hurt. I made my specialty, penne with chicken sauce. I got the penne 'al dente' just like at Piazza di Angelo's and maintained my license to cook the pasta on board this fine yacht, which is issued by Stefano Rizzi and Ciccio Celon. If they eat your pasta then you are good. It is more common that they come down to lunch and take a look at what has been made and head for the soup or protein powder.

Now the seas have smoothed out and the wind is dropping from 22-25 knots to 16-18 for the next 12 hours. Our models show the guys to the west with less wind and lifted. This may net out about the same but it may net out better for us. On the last sked, we pulled bearing on everyone except djuice. This is telling, and the boats out west reported five knots less wind than us at the end of that period. If this continues through the night, we will make some nice gainers.

Of course we are looking two to three days down the road and will need to make sure we are well placed at that time, but for now we need to optimise the advantages of the position we are in.

Roger [Nilson] and I got a bit more sleep today, seven hours each. We had been working too hard on all this information and not taking care of ourselves. Depending on the time of day that we arrive in Rio, the last 12 hours of this race could be quite taxing on everyone.

Eight hour break...

Got a bit distracted. Our performance went down by 7% for three hours last night. We could not figure it out. Kelp? No. We re-trimmed the sails five times, still could not get it going. Changed drivers three times. Then I thought maybe we were dragging a sheet overboard, so we looked around aft and could not find anything. Very frustrating.

An hour into the next watch, one of the bowmen found a jib sheet coming off the shrouds dragging in the water. Hauled that puppy in and got our missing half a knot back. All is well. We gained a bit more on everyone but illbruck on the 1000 sked despite the sheet saga so we are happy about that. Now we need to start thinking about our long term positioning.
Can't tell you what we are thinking about here, because our competitors can get these reports, but there is a lot of studying of the weather models and routes for Roger and me right now.

Three hour break...

The trough line we have been riding on the east side of enhanced itself this morning. Because of this, the transition behind it is not so soft as it has looked for the past three days but rather is sharp. This means that probably the boats to the west will get lifted quickly but not suffer the light air that was predicted. They had started to suffer a bit on the last two skeds and we made modest gains but I think that will all be wiped out.

Paul Cayard
Amer Sports One

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