Kingfisher closes on Equator

Ellen's team unlikely to better Geronmino's time to 0 degrees.

Wednesday February 5th 2003, Author: Kingfisher Challenges, Location: Transoceanic
Position: 14 29' N 26 25' W (163 nm South of northern most island of Cape Verde's / 521 nm west of Dakar)

Av/Max boat speed in last hour: 23.65 / 31 knots
Av/Max wind speed in last hour: 22.47 / 30.5 knots
Wind direction: 056
Distance to Equator: 874 nm (theorectical shortest distance)

As Kingfisher continues to fly south averaging 23.65 knots in the last hour (top speed of 31 knots) the next crucial tactical decision for Ellen and Meeno Schrader (weather router) will be the best place to cross the Equator giving them a corridor to cross the notorious Doldrums as quickly as possible. Currently, Kingfisher is on track to cross the Equator between 26 to 27 degress west. From there they must work out how to cross the giant anticyclone spreading across the entire South Atlantic (St.Helena high) that is blocking their route to the south.

It now looks almost impossible to break the existing Ushant to Equator record set by Geronimo (they would need to cross the Equator by 18:15:09 tomorrow) but it may be possible based on the current routing for Ellen and her crew to beat the time of 7 days 22 hours set by Orange last year and with some fast sailing even the ENZA time of 7 days, 4 hours, 24 minutes set by Peter Blake and Robin Knox-Johnston in 1994

At 0700 GMT this morning Kingfisher were 11 hours, 36 minutes behind the existing 64 day record set by 'Orange' but have closed up the gap on Geronimo to approximately 14 hours behind and are sailing a more direct route than Geronimo was forced to, and therefore less miles.

From onboard, Andrew Preece writes: This afternoon we are expecting a GRIB file [weather prediction in a data format that is processed by the onboard routing programmes to ‘suggest’ best route to follow] to come in from Meeno that will give us our first picture of the South Atlantic. It is pretty exciting to have left the UK winter only a few days ago, to be in our shorts now and planning for the South Atlantic in the next couple of days. Right now we are about 250 miles behind Geronimo's pace but considering how much light air we have suffered over the last couple of days, we're not unhappy. There are plenty of tactical possibilities in the next 10 days or so.

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