Ice scare in Around Alone

Front runners due to head north

Friday February 14th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Pos Yacht Lat Long DTF DTL 24h Run
1 Bobst Group-Armor Lux -52.5 -155.7 5992.2 373.2
2 Solidaires -51.2 -156.8 6062 69.8 332.5
3 Tiscali -51.7 -158.4 6100.6 108.4 323.3
4 Hexagon -50.5 -157.7 6110 117.9 308.4
5 Ocean Planet -49.4 -158.1 6154.8 162.7 293.6
6 Pindar -48.7 -158.5 6185.6 193.5 306.1
1 Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America -48.7 -159.5 6219.8 284.9
2 Everest Horizontal -48.9 -164.4 6382.7 162.9 266.3
3 Spirit of yukoh -47.7 -165.7 6464.2 244.4 225.3
4 BTC Velocity -47.4 -168 6551.9 332 194.8
5 Spirit of Canada -43.4 -176.2 6971.5 751.7 173.9


Emma Richards, phoning up The Daily Sail to get an update on the America's Cup, reported that nerves are on edge in the Around Alone fleet following the warnings from Geronimo of spotting ice. She is okay being the most northerly boat in class one, but several of her competitors to the south are expected to turn north. Geronimo reported seeing many growlers at 54 13 S 159 27 W.

Richards has been experiencing a few problems with her autopilots - nothing drastic, they just don't seem to be responding as quickly as they should.

The ice problem facing sailors is that while large icebergs show up on their radars, smaller growlers, quite capable of destroying a composite hull do not show up. There is also no information on the web that shows the track of patches of smaller bergs and growlers.


Graham Dalton reports from on board Hexagon:

I have decided to stay with my tactic to head south, which has kept me in touch with the race leader Bernard Stamm. The further south I go, the closer I get to the South Pole. This means I will have a shorter distance to sail to get to Cape Horn, where I will have the opportunity to turn north and sail into warmer water. The quicker I go south the quicker I get into the strong westerly wind and big rolling seas that characterize the 'roaring 40's' and 'screaming 50's', which are the names given to these latitudes.

There are inherent dangers with this tactic. The further south I go, the greater the likelihood of meeting icebergs. I have now switched on my radar that can detect the larger icebergs up to 15 miles away. At the speed I am sailing now, this would be just over an hour's sailing time. When the strong winds arrive and my speed builds to over 20 knots, I will have little time to take evasive action if one happens to be in my path.

The biggest worry is the pieces of the ice the radar cannot detect. These are large chunks that have broken off glaciers and are often found downwind of the parent iceberg. Sailors call these ‘growlers’ and with 7/8ths of the ice below the surface, something insignificant on the surface can be the size of a house below the surface. I have to say that whilst I want to win this leg, the constant anxiety associated with my chosen route and my concerns for the danger ahead is very draining.

I am in great conditions right now with 18 knots of wind and smooth seas on a slight swell, not what I expected for this leg. My weather forecast tells me that I am in for a lot of wind over the weekend. I am preparing for the worst, eating as much as I can and checking every part of the boat to see that nothing has worked loose or suffered the constant problem of chafe that comes with offshore racing.

Today's onboard weather conditions are:

Position: 49° 35'S 161° 38'W
Wind: N 18-20 knots
Barometer: 1123 steady
Cloud cover and type: 5/8
Sea State: Calm
Precipitation: None

Fair winds,
Graham

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