Miserable course

As the Route du Nouveau Monde fleet head towards the centre of the Azores high

Thursday January 30th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Pos Boat Skipper Latitude Longitude SOG COG DTF DTL
1 Sill Roland Jourdain 27 57.08' N 57 05.72' W 9.7 012 2937.5 0.0
2 La Mie Caline Eric Dumont 25 20.92' N 60 10.40' W 8.3 020 3164.6 227.2
3 UUDS-Republique Dominicaine Miranda Merron 26 09.60' N 60 46.00' W 7.8 027 3166.8 229.3
4 Millimages-Gédéon Patrick Favre 25 33.68' N 65 12.24' W 8.7 023 3393.1 455.6

The form has been panning out as expected in the Route du Nouveau Monde as the boats make their way on the frustrating passage towards the first mark of the course at the Azores. Of course the Azores high pressure system is stuck to the mid-Atlantic island group like glue at present.

Roughly one quarter of the way to the Azores, the fleet are currently hard on the wind, but are slowly being lifted. Over the weekend the forecast charts show a depression forming to the northwest which will squeeze the isobars and may see some of the competitors heading north of the track to find better pressure.

Miranda Merron skippering her Open 60 UUDS-Republic Dominicaine has pulled up to third following her two main halyard breakages shortly after the start. Merron will now have the competitive bit firmly between her teeth as she jockeys for second place with rival Eric Dumont - the man who sailed her boat in the Vendee and was then ousted as skipper by the boat's owners.

Miranda Merron writes from on board:

"Starboard tack, heading north north-east, breeze getting warmer as the wind swings right. Starlit night again. Boat takes off from wave, airborne for a few seconds and lands with a mighty crash in a black hole some distance below. The whole thing shakes like a jelly on impact. Poor boat is getting soft in her old age.

"We were trying to calculate how many wave- launched crashes to expect between here and the Azores. 3-4 crashes per minute, 1927 miles to waypoint, average speed 8.5 knots... Maybe we'll get lucky and stop slamming upwind in a few days. Everything that can move is tied down or firmly wedged in place. Despite all this, two decent hot meals got produced, but water- making activities have been suspended since boat's attempts at flying/ gravity-related problems keeps more water out of the bucket than in.

"There are a couple of flying fish somewhere in the cockpit to be added to lunch. Haven't located them yet in the dark so hope they're decent-sized specimens. Everyone sane and well.

"UUDS-Republica Dominicana-El Mangu 26 09N 60 45W"

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