Tony Bullimore's giant cat, bringing up the rear of the fleet, officially docked in port in Wellington, New Zealand at 4.14 am GMT. Three men are due to come ashore for medical treatment - Frenchmen Olivier Cusin and Armand Coursodon and English journ...
This 60-hour minimum stopover is an opportunity for the British skipper to carry out a thorough inspection of the boat and allow the crew to recharge their batteries. The crew will aim to use this stay in Wellington to recuperate as much as possible, ready to attack the second half of The Race with a reduced crew of seven.
Several hours after Tony Bullimore arrived in port it was still unclear whether he intended to stay only four hours - long enough to put the injured crew members ashore - or longer, incurring the 60-hour penalty stipulated in the rules in the case of a second assisted stopover. Finally, at 9.00 am GMT, the skipper announced to the port authorities that he intended to stay in Wellington for at least 60-hours. This is welcome news for both the crew and the boat, as it means a damaged life-raft can be repaired.
Everyone will be able to enjoy the benefits of a stopover and recover their strength before setting off restored and ready to take on the oceans once more. Not with a full complement, though. Olivier Cusin requires serious dental treatment and Armand Coursodon needs two weeks of complete rest because of a trapped nerve in his back. As a result, they are both staying ashore. A third man may also stay behind, as onboard cameraman Rob Salvidge has asked to be examined by a doctor. This means that Tony Bullimore could find himself setting off again accompanied by just six fellow crew members.
Seven men may not seem very many, but as Tony Bullimore pointed out, when Sir Peter Blake won the Jules Verne Trophy aboard Enza (now Team Legato) in 1994, he did so as skipper of a crew of seven.
Just as Team Legato was making her way into port, Team Adventure was putting back to sea after an 88-hour stay and setting sail for Cape Horn. In a hurry, it seems, because she has set off at 25.9 knots in 25 knots of northerly wind, not suffering at all, as the preceding challengers all did, from the 'windbreak' effect produced by the relief of South Island. Cam Lewis and the eight other crew members aboard Team Adventure will now aim to catch up with their slower rival Warta-Polpharma as quickly as possible.
400 miles ahead, the Poles in third position are still quite far north compared to the route taken by the two leaders, heading almost due east. Had they pushed further south they would have found stronger winds. Roman Paszke no doubt chose this softer option in the interests of preserving the boat, and is now averaging 15.3 knots.
Innovation Explorer has played her joker by pushing far out to the northeast. Loïck Peyron's giant cat is now 450 miles further east than Club Med, at a latitude 1,000 miles south of the leader's. This strategy means that the two front-runners are in different weather systems. It is possible that Loïck Peyron and his crew will be able to take advantage of a concertina effect and make big gains on Club Med when the leader has to tackle the Doldrums. At the moment Innovation Explorer is averaging 16.1 knots and is heading into the St Helena high where she will undoubtedly have a difficult time until Wednesday morning.
At the head of the fleet Grant Dalton's cat is making 17.9 knots, heading north up the coast of Brazil on the southeast trades. Club Med can expect to enjoy the same conditions for at least 24 hours.
Ranking (19/02/01 23:00:00)
Name Speed DTF DTL
1 Club MEd 13.0 4265.5 0
2 Innovation Explorer 11.1 4937.8 948.3
3 Warta Polpharma 5.4 10583.7 6594.2
4 TeamAdventure 28.0 10963.7 6974.2
5 Team Legato 0 11317.2 7327.6