Battening down hatches

The Around Alone competitors are putting in a major right hand turn to avoid impending storm

Wednesday October 16th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
An area of low pressure currently engulfing the Bay of Biscay and centred directly in their path, is causing the Around Alone competitors to go starboard hand down a bit in order to find favourable following winds off its northwesternmost side. In the short term the depression looks set to merge with another currently over the north sea which should leave the competitors in a shiff but chilly northerly.

This situation should favour Bernard Stamm on the leg one winner, Armor Lux/Bobst Group who seems to have anticipated this and took a longer arc out into the Atlantic earlier. Pindar, Solidaires and majority of the rest of the fleet - with the exception of Graham Dalton's Hexagon - over the last few hours have turned on to a course just south of due west. This morning speed over the ground confirms that Hexagon is currently making 7.2 knots while to the west Solidaires and Bobst Group were making over 11.

However while conditions will remain favourable in the short term, the main reason for the dramatic move west is due to some very scary looking weather which is approaching towards the end of the week (see below). Two low pressure systems are due to merge forming a very intense low pressure system. Forecast charts show this positioning itself to the west of Spain where it will remain stationary and intensify over the weekend - 976mb on Saturday and 965 on Sunday - before finally gradually abating on Monday.

This will put the entire Around Alone fleet into survival mode suffering storm or even hurricane force winds.

One competitor who may not see this is Simone Bianchetti who was this morning approaching Brest where he headed to fix a problem with his autopilots.

See page two for an update from Ocean Planet's Bruce Schwab

American model forecast for 1200GMT Friday showing severe gale force winds.

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