Tony BULLIMORE (GBR) and his crew on Daedalus continue to take a pasting as they skirt the edge of what was Hurricane Percy.
The storm is no longer considered a hurricane, but is still large and extremely dangerous. The wind is blowing out of the south at 40 gusting 50 knots as Daedalus heads steadily east.
It was early Saturday morning when BULLIMORE and his navigator, Nick LEGGATT (RSA) decided to take avoiding action to miss what could potentially have been a devastating weather situation. For almost 24 hours they sailed slowly west on a reciprocal course to their intended route while watching the center of Hurricane Percy drift in a southeasterly direction. It was a painful day to give up hard earned miles, but BULLIMORE, an extremely seasoned sailor, knows that it is best to favour the boat and crew and live to fight another day.
BULLIMORE describes the thought process he and LEGGATT went through before they decided to change course. 'This is a real show stopper. We were going nicely at around 20 to 24 knots, right on course, when we received an email from Lee BRUCE, our Weather Router, to tell us a massive storm, known as Hurricane Percy, was moving from the Pacific towards the Southern Ocean. More important, the present course we were steering would put us right into the centre of this weather system by the 7 March. We would then have winds of 50 knots, gusting 60 to 70 knots with massive, out of control seas…we had two choices.'
'One was to go north and let the storm roll past us to the east of us, on a south easterly course. But the problem here was that we could not really get any distance between ourselves and the storm. If we went north, we would still be too close to the centre and we would have taken a tremendous pounding. The second choice was to go southwest, trying to get as much south in as possible. This would take us away from the storm's centre and the extremely high winds, rough seas and mountainous waves. After considering the logistics, we decided to take the second route and steer southwest.'
While Daedalus headed west, the storm headed southeast and the barometer, which had been falling at an alarming rate, started steadily rising again. It seems that BULLIMORE and his crew had avoided the worst of it and made a very prudent seamanlike decision.
While Daedalus was zigzagging around the South Pacific, Cheyenne was storming toward Cape Horn and had taken a big bite out of Doha 2006's lead. At the 0700 GMT poll on Monday morning Cheyenne trailed Doha 2006 by 860 miles. On board Cheyenne navigator Wouter VERBRAAK (NED) described the sailing. 'Our hard work in the last week is finally paying of. The seas are flattening, allowing us to push the throttle down.'
At the 0700 GMT poll Cheyenne was sailing at 27 knots loping across the southern seas with the white cat squarely in her sights. VERBRAAK's log continues. 'The stretch in the Pacific Ocean has shown how easy it is to make big gains or losses. Since we are travelling at similar speeds as the weather systems, we can travel with a system for several days. In the last three days we have managed to do exactly that. We also know what it means to drop a weather system; it will take forever to be caught up by the next system, with considerable losses to the leader as a result.'
'Doha has been the victim of such a transition, and so the tables have turned and we have made significant gains in the last two days. In reaching Cape Horn we are halfway in this marathon around the world. All damages are repaired, and the boat and sails are in good shape. We just have to catch up with some sleep, and we will be ready for the next stages of the race. Doha be aware, it is not over yet!'
Since rounding the Horn on Sunday, the Qatari catamaran has made slow progress along the southern coast of Tierra del Fuego. Late Sunday afternoon the boat was approaching the Strait of Le Maire in light winds.
Doha 2006 rounded the Horn in darkness, the only sight of the famous landmark being the rugged silhouette and a faint beam from the lighthouse. Navigator Will OXLEY (AUS) described the rounding in a satellite phone call. 'The wind was light and from the east as we approached the Horn,' he said. 'The favored tack was in towards the cape so we sailed to within about four miles of land before tacking over. We could clearly see the outline of land.'
Doha 2006 is currently sailing due north at 22 knots. They are already abeam of the Falkland Islands heading for the turning mark of Los Lobos island in Uruguay.