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11 February 2005, 02:06 pm
The Rich Get Richer
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Oyrx Quest 2005

The leading yachts in the Oryx Quest 2005 have passed the latitude of Cape Comorin, the southernmost point in India, and are sailing in the turquoise waters between the Maldive Islands and the coast of Sri Lanka.

It's a stunningly beautiful part of the world that was recently so devastated by the Tsunami. On board Doha 2006 they have been seeing a lot of debris in the water which can only have come from the upheaval on land. The crew are taking it in turns to stand on the bow and scan the water ahead of the boat for logs or other large objects that could rip a rudder off and bring their race around the world to a screeching halt.

The Maldives are prime cruising grounds for thousands of visitors each year, but these visitors in their space age multihulls will not sticking around for very long. At the latest poll (11:00 GMT) Doha 2006 was sailing at 21.62 knots on a heading of 167 degrees. A shade under a hundred miles astern Geronimo was sailing marginally faster at 23.48 knots, both boats enjoying a fresh easterly wind. Further up the course Cheyenne is negotiating the tricky waters of an area of India known as Lakshadweep. They are taking care to avoid sailing too close to the shallow waters surrounding numerous tropical islands, many of which have dangerous coral heads lurking just below the surface. Unfortunately for the crew on Cheyenne they have not picked up the stronger winds and it's a case of the rich getting richer as the two leaders open the gap leaving the American boat trailing by 300 miles. That distance is likely to increase as Cheyenne was only making 14 knots at the same 11:00 poll.

The news, while not great, has not diminished the buoyant spirit on Cheyenne as Claire BAILEY reports. "We are having another day of fantastic sailing conditions," she wrote. "All is well on board. Jim (Close) the comedian has hoisted all the canvas we have in an attempt to go a little quicker and we have now established Cheyenne Radio which consists of one song a day played through the VHF on deck. Requests are currently being taken." Dr Bailey also made mention of the condition of the feet of one of the crew who developed a severe allergic reaction to his neoprene sea boots. "Lewander foot lurgy seems to be improving, but the main concern today is why everyone has flouresent urine? I must have missed this lecture at medical school."

Two hundred miles due west of Cheyenne, Tony BULLIMORE and his team on Daedalus are sailing a course that will take them down the west side of the Maldives. They too are suffering from lack of wind and have been trying out every sail combination to make the boat go faster. "We have just gone from the Code O headsail to the No.1 Gennaker hoping that it will give us a little more speed," wrote Bullimore in his daily log, then continued with a more practical idea. "One of the guys asked where we keep the oars. Perhaps they are the answer to better boat speed."

Tony BULLIMORE is one of those people who seems better suited to life on the open sea, rather than life on land. His extensive sailing experience and unrelenting sense of humour comes shining through when he is on the ocean as today's log illustrates. "Nick (Leggatt) served up Mountain House Clam Chowder and some fresh crackers for lunch," he wrote. "It was like going to the Candy Store on Thames Street in Newport, Rhode Island after a days racing." The galley on Daedalus is probably no different that the galley on the other boats, and if it's anything like the cramped space on board Doha 2006, it's a hot and airless place similar to the one Paul LARSEN describes in his daily log. "The galley is truly the mother of all sweat factories," he wrote. "It's a good excuse for a naked chef if ever there was one. And therefore a good reason not to let Fraser B. cook! But it's hot down there nonetheless. All the hatches are firmly sealed while the boat power reaches under full mainsail and Yankee at 25 knots."

The steady winds currently being enjoyed by Doha 2006 and Geronimo will soon give way to the frustrating calms and relentless squalls of the doldrums. A park-up by the leaders is quite likely. This will give Cheyenne and Daedalus an opportunity to close the gap and tighten the race once more. The ETA for the first boat at the equator is around midnight GMT Friday. Stage 1 of this multi-stage around the word marathon is already coming to a close.

Brian Hancock
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