"We've just rolled up the gennaker for the first time since Cook. At the moment we're sailing under solent and one reef in the main", said Thierry Douillard (Innovation Explorer) in a prelude to the next low pressure system.
"The biggest we've had since the start", predicted Skip Novak. By keeping to a relatively Northern path, Loick Peyron is seeking to avoid the centre of a huge depression that is moving rapidly to the East. Having caught up with it today because it is an active system, he is getting ready to batten down and lie low for a good part of the coming night, the 50 knots announced could well become 55 or even more in the gusts. On starboard tack, Innovation Explorer will be presenting her most favourable angle to the wind in order to continue her gradual descent into the south, and accompany for as long as possible the most favourable edge of the depression. So there is going to be some reef taking in perspective, some vigilance at the helm, again and again, and water, sheets of water on deck, thrown at them by a breaking seaway.
Less concerned by this system because they're sailing more to the East, Club Med is hoping to benefit, for another 24 hours yet, from the good conditions encountered since they've been down in the 50s. In a steady strong wind, on a manageable sea, the big blue catamaran, after having taken up to 45 knots last night, is making good speed under gennaker and one reef in the main much to the greater satisfaction of a Franck Proffit surprised by the clement temperatures of the Deep South. "The spectacle is very similar to the Indian Ocean" observed Franckie, "the albatrosses are with us, the swell is only just beginning to get longer, and steering will become easier."
Larry Rosenfeld, navigator aboard Team Adventure, was also jubilant about the sea state. 100 miles South-west of Cape Leeuwin, Cam Lewis' catamaran has at last emerged from 3 tough days struggling against a lumpy disordered sea that earned some comment from Jean-Yves Bernot. "We had enough wind for going fast, but with this sea, we risked breaking up the boat". The swell is getting longer and flatter for Team Adventure, well settled in the South-west. The rotation to the North-west will enable them to descend down a little further in order to manage the calms of the Tasman Sea, the mandatory passage for Lewis and his boys on the way to the Cook Straits.
Flat out now for several days, Tony Bullimore is delighted. "It's record breaking weather", he exclaimed, delighted to be going so easily in his Westerly flow, and watching the speedometer hovering between 23 and 25 knots. "The centre of the low is ahead of us. We're latching onto its western edge. We will be passing Crozet today, on a splendid sea, and we'll be passing the fatal place where I lost my boat during the last Vend Globe!" Still in the grips of their anticyclone, (Dariusz Drapella announced a barometer reading of 1022 hPa), the Poles on Warta-Polpharma have altered course to the East, at slow speed, apparently more and more worried about Team Legato's performance.
Ranking (05/02/01 15:00:00)
Name Speed DTF DTL
1 Club MEd 26.0 9979.0 0
2 Innovation Explorer 20.2 10649.3 670.3
3 TeamAdventure 14.4 14374.1 4395.0
4 Warta Polpharma 20.0 15147.2 5168.1
5 Team Legato 19.1 16337.2 6358.2