Calm after the storm
The four leading yachts in Class1 of the Around Alone 2002-03 must be wondering what has happened. After days of gale force winds and lashing rain, they suddenly find themselves "en vacances" as leading skipper Bernard Stamm described in an email to Race Operations. The roaring ocean has given way to calm seas with the tropical sun shining brightly above. Memories of 70+ knots of wind and a dark angry sea have faded with the arrival of a pleasant swell and a light breeze from the west.
The fair conditions have also brought their own set of frustrations. For a sailor there is only one thing worse than too much wind, and that is no wind at all. Thierry Dubois, the skipper of Solidaires, penned his frustration in an email: "There was too much wind two days ago and now there isn’t enough…it has been frustratingly calm all night. I had a battle with my spinnaker and these light, fluky winds to just get Solidaires going in the right direction. All of this greatly upsets the sensitive operation of keeping the sails set! So yet another sleepless night, but at least I was wearing my T-shirt on deck working in beautiful moonlight!”"
Further to the south and west Swiss sailor Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group/Armor Lux is considering more drastic measures to get his boat moving. "In 15 knots of wind sailing downwind, Bobst Group/Armor Lux has all her sails set," he wrote. "I’ve thrown the whole wardrobe up; full main, big spinnaker. I haven’t got anything else to put up, except maybe some of my underwear!"
With 600 miles to go to the Cape Verde Islands Bobst Group/Armor Lux has extended her lead on rivals Pindar, Solidaires and Hexagon. "Right now, I am on the right road going at 12 knots, well positioned for the next obstacle: the Doldrums. I think I’ll get there about the 26th October if all goes well."
The Canary Islands are throwing their predicted curve-ball at the sailors. Emma Richards on Pindar is keeping a wary eye on Solidaires. Thierry Dubois is about to sail between the islands. " Solidaires is going between the Canaries and is likely to get pushed through with a good breeze," she wrote, and then considered the flip side of the coin and continued, "or if the wind gods are in my favour today he could get wind shadows . . . here's hoping!" Despite the tension Emma must be feeling as she holds on to her second place position, she was amazed by the sight that greeted her at dawn this morning. "I am trying to appreciate the awesome sight of La Palma that dawn revealed this morning. Amazing that there is such a high land mass in the middle of the ocean!"
Further to the north Graham Dalton on Hexagon was also treated to a spectacular dawn. He was a mile off Madeira when day broke and summed up his lot in life with a single sentence. "Seeing this was worth going through the storm for."
While the leaders are starting to enjoy the warm sunshine, the Class 2 yachts remain holed up in Northern Spain. The wind is starting to moderate and has swung into the west, but it’s not the wind strength that now presents a problem, it’s the huge waves rolling in from the west. Until the seas subside there is no way the yachts will be able to leave port. Best estimates are for a departure sometime during the day on Wednesday.
Positions at 1400 UTC 22nd October 2002
Pos / Boat Name / Lat / Long / Hdg / Btspd / DTF
1 Bobst Group Armor-Lux, 26 06.800 N, 22 34.600 W, 11.52 kt, 182 °T, 5585.45 nm
2 Pindar, 28 32.000 N, 18 48.440 W, 9.82 kt, 184 °T, 5779.06 nm
3 Solidaires, 28 32.040 N, 16 56.240 W, 8.70 kt, 198 °T, 5813.61 nm
4 Hexagon, 30 02.820 N, 18 16.980 W, 6.18 kt, 211 °T, 5861 nm
5 Ocean Planet (in Port) 42 07.360 N, 8 50.760 W, 0.01 kt, 270 °T, 6718.80 nm
6 Tiscali (in Port), 43 44.120 N, 7 51.920 W, 0.01 kt, 270 °T, 6824.50 nm
All of class 2 are still in port