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20 February 2001, 09:27 am
Pit-stop For Team Adventure
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400 miles East of Porto Alegre (South Brazil), Club Med is gripped in the jaws of the calms and progressing painfully slowly towards the Southeast Trades. Thanks to the accordion effect, Innovation Explorer is reeling in twice as many miles as her nea...
But the smiles on the faces of Loick Peyron's men are looking rather tense because for tomorrow the weather files are announcing the same conditions being experienced by Grant Dalton today.

There is a traffic jam in view in the little harbour of Wellington, New Zealand where Team Adventure has been repairing her delaminated beam fairing since Thursday. Warta-Polpharma is expected there Friday evening for a quick change of the satellite transmission antenna and Team Legato as early as Saturday. Tony Bullimore, whose satellite transmission radome was torn off last night, might also have to pit-stop to pick up this vital item of communication equipment. He could well be restarting hot on the heels of Cam Lewis.

The anticyclone that is forming off the Argentinean coast is continuing to suit Innovation Explorer. In order to avoid its centre and the calms which reign there, Loick Peyron is doing a long dogleg to the East. This means he is reaching on the Eastern edge of this high, in a SSW flow nicely established in strength but rather unstable in direction. After a rotation to the Southeast tonight, Innovation should be pulled up sharp by a ridge of high pressure and suffer the stress of seeing Club MEd get going again. Elena Caputo (Innovation Explorer) is confident that her Swedish navigator crewmate Roger Nilson will find the solution. "A slight slowdown perhaps" she explained, "but we should avoid the big zone of calms". This afternoon Innovation Explorer is sliding through the squalls, on a smooth sea. Torn last night, the big gennaker mobilised the whole crew for a long session of sewing, bonding and reinforcing along the luff under the Southern stars. The patchwork reacher perfectly fulfilled its interim role, maintaining a constant speed of more than 20 knots for the catamaran.

The distance between the two leaders has shortened but not enough to trouble a Grant Dalton who has been very knocked about since yesterday. His giant catamaran is clawing to windward in an awful seaway, a combination of everything a multihull detests. "We have tried all sorts of sail combinations" explained Jacques Caraes, "the least bad; three reefs and staysail! Otherwise we'll smash the boat. We have chosen to slow down and preserve Club MEd". The atmosphere is wet and man-breaking. The big cat is bounding head into the waves, crashing on the crests before falling with incredible brutality into the troughs in huge clouds of spray, to the infernal rhythm of a yaw a minute. The crew are not able to get much rest in these conditions, and any manoeuvring on deck becomes perilous, especially at the foot of the mast.

Another ocean, another atmosphere. In New Zealand, Cam Lewis has been supervising all day the work of the American specialists come to rebuild the main beam fairing. "A frustratingly small problem for such a big boat" joked the ever happy Lewis. "We hope to be on our way again on Sunday evening, after having carried some other minor repairs, at the foot of the mast and to the sails notably".

Ranking (16/02/01 15:00:00)

Name Speed DTF DTL
1 Club MEd 12.0 5031.9 0
2 Innovation Explorer 19.1 5812.8 780.9
3 TeamAdventure 0.0 11317.2 6285.3
4 Warta Polpharma 10.1 11405.8 6373.9
5 Team Legato 19.0 11893.6 6861.7
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