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23 January 2001, 05:25 pm
Restart At The Equator?
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The Race Nears the Equator

A low ceiling, big black clouds, sudden showers, shifting winds that then disappear completely, if this isn't the Doldrums, then it certainly looks like them!
The Race
Restart At The Equator?
A low ceiling, big black clouds, sudden showers, shifting winds that then disappear completely, if this isn't the Doldrums, then it certainly looks like them! And Grant Dalton, co-skipper of Club Med, rather morose this morning, noted that the only breath of air that he could feel on his back wasn't anything to do with the North-east trade winds but was coming from the boats steaming up behind. Innovation Explorer's investment is paying off. Club Med is marking Team Adventure by positioning up on the same longitude, and this whole little world could be lining up on the equator within the next few hours.

It is never very pleasant seeing the image of your competitors, who you thought you could hold back, looming larger in your rear-view mirror. Thankfully the Doldrums impose on the crews of multihulls repeated manoeuvres that keep them too busy to be melancholy. While Innovation Explorer continues driving due South at a good pace, the order of the day for Cam Lewis (Team Adventure) and for Grant Dalton (Club Med) is that there can be no letting up under any circumstances, even if it means momentarily shooting off at 45° to the route.

The "Giants" cannot abide being immobile. "The light airs and a nasty chop will soon stop the boat", explained Franck Proffit (Club Med). "It means battling hard in the squalls, reducing sail, piling it back on, no time to get bored". It's just the same on board Team Adventure: "Lots of work on board", confided Cam Lewis, "We need to spare the gear because we're slamming a lot in the light airs". There are 9 men permanently on watch on Club Med, including one sent regularly up the mast to scout the sea ahead and spot the gusts. 5 knots of wind still from the North is propelling them at 6 to 8 knots. A pittance! But a pittance that should, according to the satellite observations made on Club Med and Team Adventure, allow them to pick up within the next 24 hours those famous South-east trade winds, synonymous with deliverance. If such is the case, Grant Dalton and Cam Lewis will have in a way opened up a new passage to the Southern Hemisphere, a very theoretical passage based on the observation of satellite images that allow locating with precision the narrowest part of this windless zone.

More "traditionalist", Loick Peyron and his accomplice router Pierre Lasnier have chosen the Westerly route allowing them to benefit from the trade winds for longer, whilst hoping for a clean exit from the Doldrums. 24 hours for some, 36 for others! The truth is in the hands of the navigators, concentrating more than ever on sail trim and observing the element.

Ranking (09/01/01 17:00:00)

Name Speed DTF DTL
1 Club Med 8.0 20813.6 0
2 TeamAdventure 10.0 20831.9 18.2
3 Innovation Explorer 5.4 20995.0 181.3
4 PlayStation 22.0 21333.7 520.1
5 Warta Polpharma 19.1 21505.4 691.7
6 Team Legato 10.3 22515.1 1701.4

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