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15 February 2001, 11:55 am
ClubMed Goes West
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The joy of being back in the Atlantic has been short lived for the two leading catamarans in The Race. Competitive reflexes soon take a hold and the sailors on Club Med and Innovation Explorer have taken little time off to savour their respective expl...
The long haul back up the Latin American coast is full of pitfalls. Grant Dalton congratulated himself this morning on getting out of a cell of high pressure that they crossed at a slow rate of knots. Still beating to windward, the leader is sailing along at 13/14 knots. The sea, calm since the Falklands is starting to roughen. With boat and clothes dried, the men on board Club MEd are concentrating on the new situation opening up before them. With the wind not so strong from a less favourable angle, they know that this is no time for the heady high speeds of the Pacific but for increased efficiency in their manoeuvres and trim. The amazing potential of the Giants is no guarantee against a return of one's adversaries, even when they are almost a thousand miles behind!

"What a radical change!" exclaimed Elena Caputo. The only woman in the race cannot get over it, yesterday Innovation Explorer rounded Cape Horn in 60 knots of wind and a huge confused seaway. And today, the big catamaran has put on every stitch of sail and is sliding along under gennaker on a flat sea, in a wind that is alas getting weaker and weaker. Anxiety is setting in: "Club MEd came by this way with wind and speed" said Thierry Douillard, "We have gybed three times since this morning to maintain the best wind angle, but it is all falling at the moment!" At least the temperature difference is warming the hearts. The heavy oilskins, stiff with salt, have been rinsed and exchanged for fleeces. They have emptied their boots and dried their socks. The Atlantic has a happier face all the same!

On board Team Adventure they are also smiling again. For a long time becalmed 60 miles off the New Zealand coast, Cam Lewis's catamaran is at last making way, slowly, towards Cape Farewell. Wellington and the workers from the American Goetz yard are 130 miles away. Philippe Peche is longing to entrust them their big injured boat so that they can be on their way again to attack the Pacific. "We know that our 60 hour penalty will allow Warta-Polpharma to snatch 3rd place", explained Philippe, "in some ways it will be all the better, we will be even more motivated to get going again." Team Adventure must repair the carbon skin of the main beam fairing already repaired once in Cape Town (South Africa). "This time, I hope that the repair will be final; we hope to be able to offer ourselves some great sensations in the Pacific" concluded Philippe.

The Poles on Warta-Polpharma are also seeing their landfall with New Zealand delayed by the anticyclone reigning supreme right in the middle of the Tasman Sea. 610 miles from cape Farewell, Roman Paszke is dreading the passage of the cold front and is hoping to keep Team Legato at a distance.

Tony Bullimore's venerable catamaran has been the most consistent boat for the past week. She has been quietly scoring daily runs of 430/450 miles which, far from the records posted today by the new generation of catamarans, is nevertheless tracing them a nice straight line across the Indian Ocean and heading straight for the South of New Zealand, at a much more favourable angle than the one plotted by Team Adventure or Warta-Polpharma. New Zealand is going to be the theatre of some spectacular levelling of the playing field, position wise, in The Race. The waters of the Straits could well be boiling under the crossed paths of the impetuous Cam, the placid Tony and the ever hilarious Poles.

Ranking (14/02/01 15:00:00 GMT )

Name Speed DTF DTL
1 Club MEd 7.0 5539.1 0
2 Innovation Explorer 3.4 6470.7 931.6
3 TeamAdventure 3.2 11519.7 5980.6
4 Warta Polpharma 9.1 12000.8 6461.7
5 Team Legato 23.0 12742.8 7203.7
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