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24 January 2001, 09:58 am
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Club Med Draws Clear

Sensible and rational sailing took Club Med into the lead as soon as she entered the Roaring Forties.
Today these same principles are carrying Grant Dalton and his men towards the Kerguelen Islands, on a perfectly straight 'expressway' between two systems of high pressure. On the log the big blue catamaran is inexorably swallowing its daily ration of 500 or 550 miles.

Still very fast but along a more erratic path caused by more complicated weather at the convergence of two systems, Innovation Explorer is battling to ride the same train as the leader. The crew of Team Adventure, revived by a few hours of real rest (and real meals on shore), and by the warm welcome of the South Africans, are enthusiastically contemplating their new start, despite the retirement of the two injured men and the defection of two other crewmembers for "personal reasons". All laughter ands smiles aboard Warta-Polpharma; the astonishing Poles are at last getting a glimpse of the end of the tunnel and "their" expressway south of Tristan da Cunha.

The repairs are forging ahead on board Team Adventure, in Cape Town. Late into the warm southern night the South African workmen under the supervision of Yann Penfornis, ground, cut and eliminated the damaged parts of the catamaran. Early in the morning, watched by the intrigued inhabitants of Cape Town and the local press, work inside the beam itself started again. Briefly taken aback by the diagnosis concerning Jeffrey Wargo and Michael Lundh, both forced to rest for several weeks, Cam Lewis and his crew quickly regained confidence and optimism with the certitude that their magnificent catamaran would be quickly heading back to sea, "stronger than ever". And the announcement this morning of the defection of the two Americans, Robert Myles and Rick Deppe, aroused only slight concern in the big Cam about sailing from now on with a majority French crew!

Reducing from 14 men to 10 will of course have an effect on the watch system on board. The manoeuvres, already out of all proportions on these "Giants" will be even more demanding. "But we're all sailors and we will manage to adapt our sailing to this new order", resumed Lewis, reminding us that in 1993, there were only 4 of them around Bruno Peyron when they carried off the first Jules Verne Trophy.

Jeffrey Wargo and Michael Lundh have left hospital in Cape Town where they had been admitted for examinations and treatment for their respective injuries. The doctors have ordered them total rest for several weeks. The American Jeffrey, who had helmed the boat for a time after his fall, was very surprised at the gravity of his injury and very disappointed at not being able to leave again with his comrades.

Out at sea it was a tough night for Warta-Polpharma confronted with thunderstorms. The wind, irregular in strength and in direction obliged them to manoeuvre a lot. But it was satisfaction at daybreak in having made good progress to the South. The islands of Tristan da Cunha should be left to starboard by this evening. So Roman Paszke's men will now be able to turn left and turn onto the ramp leading to the Deep South motorway at last.

The descent of the South Atlantic just goes on and on for Team Legato engulfed by the same calms responsible at the moment for the new order in the Vendée Globe. But the shift to the South-west has been confirmed for the next 26 hours and Tony Bullimore is becoming more and more impatient to reach the high southern latitudes.

Ranking (23/01/01 15:00:00 GMT)

Name Speed DTF DTL
1 Club MEd 23.0 16088.0 0
2 Innovation Explorer 16.1 16808.9 720.9
3 TeamAdventure 0.0 17941.1 1853.1
4 Warta Polpharma 8.2 18972.3 2884.3
5 Team Legato 10.0 19814.0 3726.0

Great Pictures now online from Giles Martin-Raget , PPL and Carlo Borlenghi

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