Loïck Peyron is going fast, yes, but the concertina effect is not over yet," commented race co-director David Adams. An instantaneous speed of 27 knots and 510 miles covered in 24 hours is certainly a good performance.
Nonetheless, the crew expressed their frustration at the daily radio conference. Further back, in the Southern Ocean, the two contenders for third place are currently manoeuvring into position to hook on to a welcome low pressure system that will provide them with a strong westerly airflow.
"We are right up the creek," is a polite translation of Loïck Peyron's comments at today's radio conference. The French skipper was in cheerful mood but conscious that Innovation Explorer's easterly route has turned out to be a tactical error. It must be all the harder to accept that the trades are expected to peter out on the other side of the equator. They have not given up hope of a last-ditch comeback, though, and as Skip Novak pointed out, "when you are this far behind the leader, you can take a lot more risks." The gap may have closed somewhat since yesterday, but the crew know very well that it is almost meaningless, because the ongoing game of "I stop-you go" is not over yet.
Club Med will soon be less than 3,000 miles from Marseilles, and although Grant Dalton's giant cat is not exactly blazing a trail right now, you can only admire the fact that this crew have managed to maintain a minimum of speed no matter what the conditions. Con-sis-ten-cy - how often have we heard Grant Dalton say it! And this time, he's made his point.
In the South Pacific, Warta-Polpharma is holding on to third place for the time being, but Team Adventure is close behind. "Having said that," mused David Adams, "reclaiming third place is not Cam Lewis's top priority right now. First he is concentrating on getting south into a good position to hook on to the large low pressure system coming towards him. Roman Paszke is doing the same and the two boats can expect to enjoy a big westerly airflow which could produce some interesting performances. The American boat averaged 20 knots over the past 24 hours, compared to 17 for the Polish challenger. It is perhaps an illustration of what you might call the 'generation gap' between the two yachts. We have seen in the past, though, that it would make more than this age gap to dent the determination of Roman Paszke and his men. There is still a tussle ahead.
Tony Bullimore's 'Six men in a boat' set off again at a sedate pace, gradually picking up speed to get back into race mode. But in spite of all that has happened, the British skipper remains buoyant, constantly emphasising that everything is going fine.
Ranking (22/02/01 19:00:00)
Name Speed DTF DTL
1 Club Med 10.0 3046.5 0
2 Innovation Explorer 18.3 3965.0 918.5
3 Warta Polpharma 20 9619.2 6572.7
4 TeamAdventure 23.4 9665.3 6618.8
5 Team Legato 15.5 11133.3 8086.8