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31 March 2005, 10:56 am
Across The Equator
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Oryx Quest 2005

Brian THOMPSON (GBR) and his team on Doha 2006 have bounced back into the Northern Hemisphere leaving behind the autumn leaves of the south. Around midday (GMT) yesterday the Qatari catamaran made it's way across the equator and into spring.
The change will come as a very pleasant one for THOMPSON and his crew as they watch the season work it's magic on a hemisphere that has suffered under a blanket of snow since the Qatari catamaran set sail almost two months ago.

The equator bump was not the only bump the crew experienced. Since yesterday morning they have been sailing close hauled, pounding upwind in an uncomfortable seaway.

They are 'enjoying' fabulous trade wind sailing on a turquoise ocean sparkling with whitecaps and laced with the froth from an occasional large rogue. It is tedious and hot as they thread their way past two large atolls at the south end of the Maldives. At the 0700 hours GMT poll on Thursday morning Doha 2006 was just east of the Maldive Islands on a course that parallels the stunning tropical archipelago.

Had they been cruising THOMPSON and company could have dropped anchor, kitted up with diving gear, and spent a few hours exploring one of the most spectacular reefs on the planet. Instead the crew have been burning off nervous energy, brought on by their rapid progress toward the finish, by playing rugby on the trampoline.

The upwind slog is likely to continue for another three days as they skirt a ridge of high pressure. They have now crossed their outbound track and by doing so essentially circumnavigated the world, however it is only semantics; crossing the finish line in Doha is the real circumnavigation end and one that looms ever closer with each bump, splash and flying fish collision. At the 0700 poll Doha 2006 was roughly 1,800 miles from the end of their voyage around the globe.

Two thousand miles to the south Tony BULLIMORE (GBR) and his crew on Daedalus are also bumping and grinding their way to the finish although the water cascading over the deck is most certainly not tropical. Their current position is still south of South Africa where the cold water of the Southern Ocean mixes with the warm Agulhas current to provide rich feeding grounds for marine life. For the multinational crew sailing on top of the water, rather than in it, the on board fare remains the same; Mountain House freeze-dried meals spiced up with whatever spices are left in the galley. For BULLIMORE and his team, the finish line is still a distant 4,550 miles and many more freeze dried meals away.

Brian Hancock (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Sunrise on Doha 2006:© Quest International Sports
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