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15 February 2001, 11:45 am
ClubMed Reaches Out For Home
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The forty fourth day at sea and nothing seems to be able to alter Grant Dalton's 'clear round' so far on his giant catamaran Club Med. The Horn is already far astern.
From today the insatiable Dalton is beginning to reckon with the Saint Helena high while talking about improving yet again his speed records! Loick was at the Horn yesterday evening (2100 GMT), three reefs and storm jib to get a close sniff of the myth. But the South was reluctant to let him go and Innovation is roaming to the East of the Estados islands whilst Club Med is charging along the coast of Uruguay.

Very far behind, The Race is getting set for some new turns to the plot, Team Adventure is struggling towards the Cook Straits and her 60 hours immobilisation that her stop for repairs to her delaminated main beam fairing imposes. Warta-Polpharma sees a podium place in sight but doesn't dare rejoice too much with Team Legato steaming up behind. The British boat is remarkably well placed to envisage a rapid landfall with New Zealand.

Grant Dalton's men are benefiting from a clear weather pattern. Faced with the anticyclone filling off Uruguay, they have chosen to head North-east since the Falklands. In a 25 knot South-westerly, the big blue cat has found all the fuel she needs to maintain a high average speed and skirt these regions of high pressure to the East. Grant Dalton is climbing the parallels of latitude four at a time, aiming to reach the Easterly winds generated by the Saint Helena high as quickly as possible . Flying her big gennaker, on a tidy sea, Grant and his boys are fully benefiting from their return into the Atlantic. "It's warmer, we are now working in T-shirts" declared Jacques Caraes today at noon, "we are doing 20 knots without pushing the boat". Grant is expecting to slow down a bit tomorrow. "About a dozen hours at 5/6 knots, and then we'll be off again!"

Loick Peyron fears that the bubble of high pressure is spreading before him and the ridge he will have to cross is not going to help him reduce the gap with Club Med. They were 'parked' for a time this morning in the wind shadow of the Estados islands and the ridge of high pressure left behind the depression that threw them around so roughly under the Chilean coast. But Innovation Explorer managed to get underway again at a respectable speed towards the Falklands. Rounding the famous cape has left an impression on their minds, especially for the first timers; Julien Cressant talks of a fabulous moment, in 60 knots of wind, when the breaking sea whipped up by the rising seabed under the Chilean coast suddenly smoothed out East of the cape, and Innovation Explorer with three reefs in the main and storm jib slid under the mythical rock. And a few instants later the encounter with "Darwin Sound", Yvon Fauconnier's monohull with Bruno Peyron aboard, come to salute his brothers at arms!

The planned stopover of Team Adventure is going to shuffle the pack somewhat at the back of the fleet. The repair to the skin of the central beam of the big catamaran is going to cost Cam Lewis a 60 hour penalty. Hours that should allow the Poles of Warta-Polpharma to take over third place as they pass Wellington. So it looks like there could be a new pursuit in the Pacific. Team Legato is clawing her way back towards Roman Paszke and should benefit from fast conditions for getting through the Cook Straits on the heels of the smallest catamaran in the race. Team Adventure who has already planned her pit-stop in Wellington down to the nearest minute, will be setting off again with a huge appetite and a great desire to claim back her place. Watch out the Poles!

Ranking (13/02/01 15:00:00GMT)

Name Speed DTF DTL
1 Club MEd 16.0 5790.5 0
2 Innovation Explorer 24.1 6813.0 1022.5
3 TeamAdventure 7.4 11665.5 5875.0
4 Warta Polpharma 18.2 12323.7 6533.2
5 Team Legato 22.0 13185.3 7394.8
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