While Team Legato prepares for arrival in Wellington, Team Adventure has just set off for the Southern Expressway with one less men on board.
One more (or rather, one less) in addition to the four crew who got off in Cape Town. Sandy Fesq of the Race Committee assures us, though, "I don't think that the smaller number will prevent them from reaching high speeds." The race against Warta-Polpharma should be exciting given the performance the Polish boat logged at the latest fix.
While Club Med (now only 1,000 miles from the equator) persists in her inexorable climb directly north, on a course of 11 at an average of 17 knots, Innovation Explorer continues to slow down as she nears a region of high pressure.
For Loïck Peyron and his men, the situation looks very complicated in the coming hours but should, if they get through this area fairly quickly, finish with their reaching the (long anticipated) Trades.
But the Trade Winds are far away from the three other boats in the race. Still in the sphere of New Zealand's influence, Warta-Polpharma is making her powder talk while concentrating all her energy into distancing herself from Kiwi shores.
It appears that the Poles, who gave us a fine demonstration of coastal navigation in the beginning of the race through the Mediterranean and off Africa, have definitely acquired a taste for the open ocean. They are by far the fastest in the fleet, with an instantaneous speed of 22 knots (against 16 for Club Med, the second fastest). The weather conditions in store should allow them to increase their average further. A southwesterly wind should become stronger as the miles pass by.
Team Adventure's men must be impatient to reach that breeze, seeing that her speed today was down to 9 knots against 14 when they set out. No doubt they'll greet with joy the predicted following winds. Cam Lewis's maxi, which throughout the early part of the race was certainly in the running to win, must have ants in her hulls after this second forced stop and the earlier unhelpful weather conditions.
Well, they've set off again. They left the dock in Wellington at 2.20 am GMT today and quietly exited Cook Strait, very slowly . . . for now.
An as one puts to sea, another Team, Legato, is slipping into the still warm berth in the docks, and for the moment it's difficult to say for how long a period. Only one thing is certain: the injured crew need to be examined. It was wise of Tony Bullimore to take the decision to stop . . . in a few minutes.
Ranking (19/02/01 03:00:00)
Name Speed DTF DTL
1 Club MEd 16.0 4265.5 0
2 Innovation Explorer 14.4 5187.8 922.3
3 Warta Polpharma 21.4 10859.6 6594.1
4 Team Legato 10.0 11312.6 7047.1
5 TeamAdventure 1.2 11316.9 7051.4