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26 February 2001, 04:49 pm
A Close Finish In Prospect?
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Innovation Explorer is well on the way to crossing the Doldrums as if they didn't exist and aiming, just like Club Med, for a low pressure system located in the north-west of the North Atlantic.
"Club Med should certainly latch onto this low within the next 24 hours but we could also grab hold of its tail right on her heels" according to Skip Novak. "We must remain concentrated right until the end," said Frank Proffit (Club Med), "Because 600/700 miles lead on a multihull is nothing and there are still a lot of pitfalls yet".

"I think that we should be out of the zone of influence of the Doldrums during the night," declared Loick Le Mignon (Innovation Explorer). "We're not going to head east yet because we're getting close to it's wide zone, but we're trying to catch up with this low that is so huge it could take us as far as Gibraltar. In any case, we will have achieved a textbook crossing of the Equator." Clearly, Innovation Explorer is getting the most out of a 12 knot breeze and is gaining to the North at a steady 11.9 knots average over the last 24 hours. She was 717 miles behind at the 1100 GMT position report compared to more than 1200 miles behind last Wednesday. Needless to say that Innovation Explorer will be playing the troublemaker right until the bitter end, and until the finish line has been crossed, Loick Peyron and his crew will be on the alert. And normally the evening position report should be showing a new "bungee" effect and send the adrenaline rushing because right now Club Med is "parked" in a paltry 4 knots of wind. " We're right in a buffer zone between the lows and the trade winds we left behind in the night," declared Franck Proffit (Club Med) during today's chat session. "To be clear, we're in a zone of calm and we think we'll remain so for about another ten hours. We've got 4 knots of wind and I think that by the end of the afternoon we will have made it to the other side. Then, this low looks so great that it should give us a 20 knot south-easterly to take us all the way to Gibraltar. Clearly there will be another accordion effect and we're keeping an eye on P'tit Loch (alias Loick Peyron) behind us, who doesn't look like being stopped".

What does one do when you're caught in a lull and you know that someone is pushing up behind? "We completely check the boat. We repair what needs repairing. The technical side is becoming more and more important as time goes by. The gear has been working and wearing and we need to remain vigilant, because we can still have some windy passages" explained the co-skipper of the leading boat which is today 980 miles from the Canaries and 2431 miles from Marseilles. And if as expected Club Med manages to pick up this long awaited low located in the north-west of the North Atlantic, the leading boat will indeed be propelled by a 20 knot south-easterly that could take them at least as far as the Canaries, and even to the gateway to the Mediterranean, Gibraltar.

Warta-Polpharma, in third place three days ago, then fourth, then third, the fourth again today. It's a good game of yo-yo being played out between Team Adventure and the Polish boat, in a Furious Fifties atmosphere! Winds from the south-west, 40 to 50 knots, oversized waves, long downwind tacks, then risky gybes, each boat taking it in turn to head the duel when they veer back onto the direct route. And this vast depression is hanging about around Cape Horn and would seem to want to accompany them along the coast of this mythical rock. What an atmosphere! For the moment Team Adventure is 3rd, 1474 miles away from Cape Horn and Warta-Polpharma, 100 miles behind is 1564 miles from the rock by the direct route. Meanwhile, Team Legato is struggling to make any southing and get out of the grips of this eternal anticyclone centred over New Zealand.

Ranking (25/02/01 15:00:00)

Name Speed DTF DTL
1 Club Med 5.0 2415.9 0
2 Innovation Explorer 14.0 3123.3 707.3
3 TeamAdventure 9.1 8506.1 6090.2
4 Warta Polpharma 16.0 8625.9 6209.9
5 Team Legato 14.0 10337.3 7921.4
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