Whilst the repairs to Team Adventure are going according to plan, it's now the weather that will delay the return of the Giant catamaran into The Race by 24 hours.
Headwinds are blowing hard over the shoals off the southern tip of Africa, whipping up a nasty sea. This is bad luck for Cam Lewis and his crew who were hoping to cast off tomorrow morning at the latest. Cam is having to be patient and is putting every second to use in preparing his fresh start. The reinforcements carried out under the supervision of Yann Penfornis along the whole fairing are reassuring. "The boat will be leaving stronger than she was when originally built", confirmed Larry Rosenfeld. "We have multiplied the number of bulkheads and largely reinforced the fairing."
The 35 knot South-easterly that is barring the entrance to the Indian Ocean to any sailing boat leaving the Cape is cooling the ardour of a rested and re-motivated crew. "If we don't leave until Friday morning it will be so much the better, because the polymerisation of the carbon will be that much better, and our repairs more reliable" said Cam positively. "We are taking advantage to check everything on board. We have notably eliminated all sharp angles inside the hulls (Jeffrey Wargo injured himself when he violently crashed into a sharp object when the boat buried her bows. Editorial note), and we are protecting risky parts of the boat with foam, above doors for example." Jean-Yves Bernot is working to define the most reasonable route for bringing back Team Adventure into the race as quickly as possible.
Innovation Explorer in the grips of a delicate situation, between calms and strong breezes, is looking for the exit. Club Med, much to the crew's joy, is blithely sliding between the highs and is tirelessly increasing her lead over her pursuers. Warta-Polpharma is putting more and more Easting into her route; the Poles are exultant now that the 25 knot Westerly is finally filling their sails and terrifying the speedo. Located this morning at 15° longitude West, they have only just reached the point passed by Club MEd on January 17th!
Well settled on port tack in a nice North-westerly flow generating around twenty knots of wind, Club MEd, mistress of her destiny, is making good pace on an Easterly heading, obstinately refusing to go below latitude 47° South. The reason: a very deep depression, 790 hPa, which is rising up from 53° South. Sailing with reefed main, small spinnaker and gennaker, Grant Dalton's men are taking great care to tackle the development of these lows whose centres could cause major chaos. The big blue catamaran's lead is allowing the crew to spare the gear, by choosing wind angles and forces that best suit the boat: reaching in 25/30 knots of wind.
The situation is not so clear for Loick Peyron, caught up by the front, who since this morning is sailing in light airs, no more than 10/15 knots from WSW, which is not very favourable for generating long surf. Contrary to Club MEd, Innovation Explorer must sail down South, perhaps as far as 52°, to pick up the strong South-westerlies. A route more akin to a staircase, which hour after hour is only extending the distance in longitude behind Club Med.
For Tony Bullimore and his men on Team Legato, no need for thousands of computer files to understand the situation. The Briton is trying to cut due South across a vast zone of high pressure that is nonchalantly wandering about the middle of the South Atlantic. Struggling along at 6 knots in a pathetic breeze coming inconveniently from the South-east, Team Legato is enviously eyeing the islands of Tristan da Cunha and the nicely established Westerlies now being enjoyed by Warta-Polpharma 850 miles to the East. Tony's salvation lies in the 40s, 600 miles to the South.
Ranking (24/01/01 15:00:01 GMT)
Name Speed DTF DTL
1 Club MEd 14.0 15672.7 0
2 Innovation Explorer 20.3 16451.3 778.6
3 TeamAdventure 0.0 17941.1 2268.3
4 Warta Polpharma 19.4 18718.2 3045.4
5 Team Legato 10.0 19597.4 3924.6
Great Pictures now online from Giles Martin-Raget , PPL and Carlo Borlenghi