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22 February 2001, 09:37 am
Innovation Explorer reduces the gap
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Loïck Peyron's maxi-catamaran is gaining and she can now reap the rewards from the long board he made to the east over several days . . .
The gap of more than 1,000 miles doesn't sit well and this steady wind of 15 knots from the east northeast gives her the chance to come back a little on the leader. We're betting that a few hours from now, Innovation Explorer will be leass
than 1,000 miles behind. Up ahead,

Club Med is struggling with a light north-northeast wind which has caused her to fall off so as to maintain any headway at all, which is only 8 "meager" knots. Innovation Explorer is gorging herself, having swallowed 517 miles in 24 hours while Club Med has nibbled on a "mere" 331 miles. The difference is needless to say going into Loïck Peyron's pocket. He's finally drawing the
dividend from the easterly route he invested in when still far in the south. Will it continue? For the moment, yes. Innovation Explorer should benefit for a while from this steady northeast wind but Loïck absolutely has to squeeze some north into his course which has too much west in it. Even if he reckons to cross the Equator as far west as 30 or 31 degrees of longitude, to keep his wind and not get stuck in the Doldrums, he needs to adjust the helm so as not to lose distance with respect to his final goal: Marseille.

Club Med took the right elevator. She's slowly but surely climbing into the Northern Hemisphere. She's managing to keep a little way on but at a price . . . So as to keep some power and create the all-important apparent wind needed to keep moving forward, she's had to fall off a little and give up ground toward her destination. She's made an average speed of 7.2 knots over an hour for a VMG (velocity made good) of 3.6 knots. Not much to write home about! Of course, the north-northeasterly zephyr of 5 to 6 knots of is not exactly ideal. So the giant is close hauled in little air and trying to get north quickly to where there's more wind. You could say it's a required course, but it's the right one for Club Med for two reasons: She won't have to deal with the Doldrums (see the previous bulletin), and the Northeast Trades, in which she's already sailing, must get stronger . . . in time.

Warta-Polpharma and Team Adventure are surfing on the same depression. If the former is under more pressure, the other is trying to get back on a train going in the right direction - toward Cape Horn. The Polish boat is quite far north relative to Team Adventure and made do with a 15.5-knot average over the last hour while Cam Lewis's maxi-catamaran has made 22.6 knots. At that rate, and as long as she catches the depression, Team Adventure should take back third place in the course of today. The low would then carry her a good part of the way to the exit from the Pacific. At the moment there's a difference of 150 miles in the daily totals of these two protagonists. Warta-Polpharma made 405 miles, Team Adventure made 561 . . .

Team Legato is in what one might call a classic situation. She has left New Zealand and needs to jump back on the great carousel of depressions in the Southern Ocean. To do that she needs to dive south and get out of the anticyclonic mass that's sitting on the North Island of Kiwiland while making do with the 15 knots of wind she now has to get her where she'll find more. Reached by telephone from Race Headquarters, Tony Bullimore seemed very happy to be back at sea and stated that this new challenge with only six doesn't frighten him or worry him.

Ranking (22/02/01 07:00:00)

Name Speed DTF DTL
1 Club Med 10.0 3153.4 0
2 Innovation Explorer 17.4 4147.0 993.6
3 Warta Polpharma 20 9807.2 6653,8
4 TeamAdventure 14.1 9886.9 6733.5
5 Team Legato 3.4 11246.3 8092.9
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