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2 March 2005, 05:33 pm
A Right-Hander Into The Southern Ocean
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2004-2005 Global Challenge

The promised gale force westerly winds have hit the teams south of Tasmania. As the fleet takes the right-hander that signals falling temperatures and rising seas, the wind has increased to around 30 knots from the west-northwest, gusting 40 knots at times.
Reports from the yachts talk of a return to bumpy foredeck sail changes and life at an angle. 'After leaving the warmth of Sydney the temperature is beginning to drop,' wrote Ben BEASLEY aboard VAIO, 'and as we sail past Tasmania the sea state is also changing - within 24 hours we have gone from shorts to foul weather clothing. There is now a strong heel on the boat and a continual roll as we cut through the oncoming waves. As we get used to conditions down here again there are a few people suffering from the dreaded sea sickness.'

Leading the way, Barclays Adventurer is just 2nm south of Imagine It. Done. as they round Tasmania in joint first- neither team able to gain even a fractional advantage since the 07:42 GMT poll.

Approaching the southeastern corner of Tasmania, BP Explorer has managed to retain their third place, despite reporting a continued average speed almost half that of the yachts further east and south. They may be travelling far slower at present, but they are much closer to the rhumb line, allowing them to protect their fleet position.

Four teams have headed south and encountered the brunt of the westerlies. Imagine It. Done. and Barclays Adventurer in joint first, Team Save the Children in 4th, Me to You in ninth and VAIO in twelfth. The group to the north heading for the inside line, nearer Tasmania and the rhumb line is led by BP Explorer, and all stand to gain once they too start their upwind beat past Tasmania.

Once they reach the westerly airflow further south and their speed increases, BP Explorer in particular could be pushing for the lead given their position on the racetrack. To combat this threat, Imagine It. Done. and Barclays Adventurer could try and close the door on the group threatening to usurp them on the inside line by tacking north. They would lose miles in terms of distance to finish, but in tactical terms, they could effectively nullify the threat by placing themselves in between their immediate rivals and the desired course to the waypoint along the rhumb line.

If they chose to do so, they would have to make the move now before the wind veers to the northwest, which would make the tacking angle for such a manoeuvre unworkable.

However, the wind shift should benefit them even if they continue on their current course. While the present wind direction from just north of west is forcing the front-runners down south to sail in a southwesterly direction to generate boat speed and avoid being headed, they will be lifted as the wind veers.

The shift to the northwest will give them the freedom to sail on a more direct course to Waypoint Bravo to combat the teams heading for the rhumb line. This will only last for around a day and a half though, when the wind will back to the west again.

For now, the teams will be concentrating on settling upset stomachs and adjusting to life bashing through waves…
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