Now safe in Cape Town, South Africa, Team Adventure's crew faces a momentous decision about continuing in The Race, following the news that their two injured crewmates will not be able to join them.
Jeffery Wargo, from Seattle, USA, and Mikael Lundh from Sweden, have been treated and released from Claremont Hospital in Cape Town but neither will be fit to return immediately to the strenuous physical challenge of sailing on the 110-foot catamaran.
Because the rules of The Race permit no crew substitutions, skipper Cam Lewis must now decide whether to continue racing with 12 crew instead of 14, once repairs have been completed. "It is my ambition to complete the course if at all possible," Lewis said today. "However it must be a crew decision. With two crew out and no way to replace them, we have to decide whether to continue on or not.
Further south, Club Med and Innovation Explorer have been sailing in ideal conditions for 4 days. Strong following winds, between 25 and 30 knots, mainly westerly, on a sea that is indeed rather rough, but good enough for the leading cats to clock up between 480 and 540 miles each day! At this rate, the Indian Ocean is looking more like a nice motorway. Both are being careful to gybe at the right moment in order to remain for as long as possible on the edge of the depressions, where the winds are strong, but not too strong, whilst avoiding being caught up in the calms of the anticyclones. The only brake on progress is the prudence of the sailors, concerned about returning both yachts and men to Marseilles.
On close scrutiny, the two leaders are faced with two very different situations. Club Med's nautical menu of the day would appear to be relatively simple: skilfully pilot the boat between the West to North-west wind shifts, put a little southing in to remain with the strongest speed generating winds whilst keeping away from the two huge centres of high pressure filling to their North. This exercise is allowing Grant Dalton's men to pursue their stampede along a route close to the Great Circle. The game is more complicated for Loick Peyron who is almost 20° longitude behind. Sailing in another weather system, Innovation Explorer is seeing an anticyclone grow to her North-east at about latitude 45° South. Loick is having to curve round to the South to remain with the strong winds that could push him far down into the iceberg zone, a real tactical choice between risky iceberg country or a difficult crossing of a not very active front before getting going again in a North-westerly.
The Poles on Warta-Polpharma are taking a strange course. Roman Paszke's men suddenly interrupted their Easterly course yesterday evening, to dive down due South through a bubble of high pressure. The objective, to join as quickly as possible the well established Westerly winds under the island of Tristan da Cunha. This is also a plan that Tony Bullimore would like to put into practice. His long route to the South is so far not getting him anywhere. A prisoner of the high pressure systems, he is having to be patient, trying to get the best out of the occasional light airs to put a little easting in his route.
Ranking (22/01/01 15:00:00)
Rank Name Speed DTF DTL
1 Club MEd 17.0 16564.7 0
2 Innovation Explorer 21.4 17270.8 706.0
3 TeamAdventure 0.0 17941.1 1376.3
4 Warta Polpharma 3.0 19140.9 2576.1
5 Team Legato 10.0 20008.4 3443.7