At 1500 GMT Thursday ClubMed was exactly 250 miles from the entrance to the port of Wellington (New Zealand). Innovation Explorer, has found some speed again and recorded an average of 27.9 knots.
Needless to say that the much talked about slowdown for Club Med, which would have been Loick Peyron's saving grace hasn't happened. On the contrary, the anticyclone located over the Tasman Sea, after having worried Club MEd, could end up by seriously hindering Innovation Explorer. Behind, the pursuers are somewhat bogged down. Team Adventure and Warta-Polpharma are in the grips of a bubble of high pressure and are dragging along respectively at the 1500 GMT polling at an instantaneous speed of 2.1 knots for the Americans and 8.1 knots for the Poles. The gap is widening!
"We shouldn't be far from the Cook Straits by noon local time" said Jacques Caraes (Club MEd) with a rather tired voice. "Grant (Dalton, the skipper) and Mike (Quilter, the navigator) are working hard at this landfall and I have reason to believe that there will be friends of theirs on boats to meet them. I've even heard that there will be members of family in a helicopter. One hears that this country is a great maritime nation, and we're soon going to find out!"
"The scenario we had envisaged with the anticyclone more over New Zealand hasn't happened," analysed Gilles Chiorri (Meteo Consult) "and Club MEd is currently sailing on its Eastern edge at a good clip". Indeed, Club MEd is running down the final miles before rounding Cape Farewell wind astern and short tacking fast downwind. "All is well on board", said Jacques Caraes (Club MEd) in conclusion, "we have even taken advantage of the warmer temperatures to do a bit of spring cleaning".
Innovation Explorer, 822.8 miles behind, is progressing as fast as she can towards this meeting point with land. Will she or won't she stop? "The decision concerning our stopping story will be take near the stopping area"said Loick Peyron. Loick still doesn't want to give anything away even if we have just learnt that a freight aircraft is scheduled to leave on Saturday to arrive in New Zealand on Monday. If the crew of Innovation Explorer, which is scheduled to reach the Cook Straits on Saturday, takes the decision to stop, they will have to wait until Monday for the freight plane, or the end of their 48 hour penalty period. It is expected there will be a reacher (headsail) and a daggerboard on the flight. In the meantime "Everything is perfect", declared Loick on the daily chat show. "There are a few cirrus clouds in the sky announcing some wind for tomorrow, three albatrosses which have been playing with the boat for several hours and a large swell that is pushing us along. But it should be getting tougher in the next few hours!"
For Team Adventure and Warta-Polpharma, the situation is more difficult and they are in the grips of a North-north-westerly flow of 10 knots. This is not exactly exciting the speedometers. They should in all probability feel the effects of an enormous depression on Friday, located today to the Southeast of the zone. Meanwhile, Tony Bullimore is greeting the full flavour of the Southern Ocean and is surfing at over 20 knots. He is a happy man!
Ranking (01/02/01 15:00:00)
Name Speed DTF DTL
1 Club MEd 24.0 11562.6 0
2 Innovation Explorer 27.0 12385.4 822.8
3 TeamAdventure 2.1 15940.9 4378.3
4 Warta Polpharma 8.1 16505.1 4942.5
5 Team Legato 21.0 17886.3 6323.7