Van Liew closes on Cape Town

Second batch of finishers expected tomorrow

Tuesday November 26th 2002, Author: Mary Ambler, Location: Transoceanic
The Leg 2 finish line in Cape Town for Class 2 leader, American Brad Van Liew, is 169 miles away. After the rocket ride of the last few days, which earned Van Liew a new World Record for his 24hr run of 345 miles in Open 50 Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America, life has turned into more of an upwind slog just before the finish. This morning the wind was out of the East Southeast at 25 knots and Brad was sailing in a choppy sea at an average boatspeed of 9-10 knots.

The cause of the headwinds is a small, localised high pressure system that formed behind Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America, but ahead of Bruce Schwab on Ocean Planet. Schwab has altered his course to the north so that he can sail over the top of the system and remain in good wind. Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America is still on track for a daytime finish on Wednesday 27th November around 1000 – 1200 local time (GMT+2), while Ocean Planet should arrive 0600 local time on 28th November.

Further back in the fleet an interesting scenario is playing out as each boat cuts a different track into Cape Town. The second boat in Class 2 is Tim Kent on the Open 50 Everest Horizontal who has wisely sailed much further south, as far as the Roaring Forties, in order to escape the edge of the high pressure and stay in strong breeze.

Kent's closest rival, Canadian sailor Derek Hatfield on Spirit of Canada was able to cut the corner on the High and so has sailed less distance - but at 2 knots less boat speed. Moreover Hatfield’s closest rival, Japanese Kojiro Shiraishi on Spirit of yukoh, has kept above the high and really cut the corner, coming as close as 68 miles to his Canadian rival this morning. However, the South Atlantic High dealt another set of random cards during the day, and Hatfield is now sailing in more wind and Shiraishi has since gybed South, but not in time and has slowed up to 5 knots boatspeed as the system tracks west.

At the back of Class 2 John Dennis on Bayer Ascensia and Alan Paris on BTC Velocity are also locked in a close race, with 42 miles separating the pair. They are still dealing with the edges of the high pressure to the North, and Paris today got trapped again: “Two days ago this area was moving in my direction and my plan was to escape south. The wind gods had other ideas and the forecasted wind and direction never materialized, so I could not make the mileage required to get away… BTC Velocity and I have had less than 3 kts of wind to attempt to move in. Forecast? More of the same for another day. What can you do? Nothing.”

The only other boat still out on the water and not worrying about close rivals is Simone Bianchetti on Tiscali. Following his dismasting and rerigging the Italian skipper crossed the Equator over the weekend and is presently sailing in the southeast trades well west of the tracks of his own rivals, but clocking up over 250 miles a day at around 11 knots boatspeed, which is exactly what he needs to do in order to get to Cape Town on time.

“I am hoping I can make a more direct route to Cape Town and not go so far South," he commented. "We’ll see, but I am constantly looking for the best speed. It is not easy to do this when you have no boats around you, as there is not the same adrenalin flowing, but I know I need to arrive in Cape Town as soon as possible!"

Positions at 1400hrs GMT 26th November 2002

Class 1
Boat Lat Lon AvgBsp AvgHeading DTF (nm)
1. Ocean Planet, 34 52.520 S, 11 07.280 E, 12.02 kt, 66 °T, 366.97 nm
2. Tiscali, 11 32.020 S, 31 34.020 W, 12.24 kt, 201 °T, 3330.07 nm

Class 2
1. Tommy Hilfiger, 34 59.160 S, 15 17.430 E, 9.28 kt, 68 °T, 169.00 nm
2. Everest Horizontal, 41 26.860 S, 0 11.960 W, 10.95 kt, 77 °T, 991.57 nm
3. Spirit of Canada, 37 31.500 S, 5 44.300 W, 8.67 kt, 75 °T, 1194.40 nm
4. Spirit of yukoh, 33 24.260 S, 8 25.570 W, 5.90 kt, 167 °T, 1338.27 nm
5. Bayer Ascensia, 31 14.360 S, 16 54.450 W, 4.72 kt, 98 °T, 1790.89 nm
6. BTC Velocity, 29 30.500 S, 17 15.700 W, 2.23 kt, 125 °T, 1832.08 nm

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