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1 March 2005, 09:36 am
Transiting The Lonely Planet
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Oryx Quest 2005

The leading yachts in the Oryx Quest 2005 are currently transiting the loneliest part of the planet. They are in the deep south thumping downwind toward Cape Horn, about as far away from any land you can get while still being on earth.
Other than the ocean floor a few miles below their razor sharp hulls, the closest land to Doha 2006 is more than 2,000 miles away.

At the 07:00 poll on Tuesday morning the Qatari catamaran was 2,167 miles from Cape Horn, 2,013 miles from Antarctica and 2,223 miles from New Zealand. Only the Chatham Islands lie within the 2,000 mile range. They are 1,820 miles away, dead upwind. It's a stark and hostile place to sail, but it is also an area of immense beauty quite unlike any other place on earth. Brian THOMPSON (GBR) summed it up succinctly in his daily log. 'There's not much around here except the wind, the waves, the birds and the occasional iceberg.'

The Southern Ocean is also a place where some of the best sailing can be found, especially when the weather is good. THOMPSON's log continues. 'The sailing is fantastic now. We are fast and putting little stress on the boat, even at these speeds. We are gliding down the waves, overtaking one after another, with no risk of putting the bows under. It's a chance for everyone on the crew to get a feel of the helm with little risk, and enjoy the thrill of downwind multihull sailing in the Southern Ocean.'

Fifteen hundred miles astern Tony BULLIMORE (GBR) and his crew on Daedalus were finding a very different Southern Ocean. 'The last three days have been high winds, rough seas and very cold conditions, forcing everybody to get into there warmest clothes,' BULLIMORE wrote. 'We have been doing speeds from 18 to 30 knots in very difficult seas and sudden squalls that regularly scream across the deck. Last night we were doing around 25 knots and a squall pushed up the speeds as the helmsman was spinning the wheel to run deeper to get the wind behind the boat, and all of a sudden the Solent jib pulled away from the forestay. Luckily there was no damage to the sail and we will fit the Solent back on to the forestay extrusion when the weather permits. In the meantime, we are running with three reefs in the mainsail and the staysail, still doing around 20 knots.'

While the leaders dive ever deeper south, Olivier DE KERSAUSON and his team on Geronimo have transited the Great Australian Bight and are currently passing south of Tasmania. They are not having an easy time of it. Where they should be getting favorable winds and be able to exploit their full potential, Geronimo is instead faced with rough conditions. There is no fast surfing for the Capgemini/Schneider Electric crew who now find themselves in a real cauldron of weather. Constant squalls, a short beam sea, and variable winds gusting from 18 to 45 knots make the sailing difficult. On board a characteristically philosophical DE KERSAUSON summed things up: 'If it was easy, everybody would be doing it'.

Brian Hancock (as amended by ISAF), Image, Cheyenne:©Event Media
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