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28 February 2005, 11:24 am
"The Mightiest Mark Of All"
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Oryx Quest 2005

Doha 2006 is thumping across the Southern Ocean and is now under 3,000 miles west of Cape Horn. The instant poll data shows that the boat speed on the Qatari catamaran has not dropped below 20 knots for the last 40 hours, as they approach what crew member Paul LARSEN (AUS) calls "the mightiest mark of all."
The spray is flying, drenching the on-watch as they huddle behind very small cabins on each hull, but when you are winning a race and extending your lead, the water somehow does not feel as cold. Seven hundred odd miles astern the water temperature on Cheyenne must be near freezing as the record setting catamaran finds yet another calm spot to add to their frustration. Wouter VERBRAAK (NED), Cheyenne's navigator, describes the mood on board in his daily log.

'We have had enough of drifting!' he writes. 'The challenge of today was to cross the trough of light winds to get to the northwest winds on the east side. We succeeded early this morning and we were happy with the good transition. However, the weather guys upstairs had something different in mind and moved the favourable winds further east leaving us behind with very light winds for the rest of the day. Frustrating is a gross understatement of our feelings!'

After skirting the Auckland Islands during Saturday night, Dave SCULLY (USA) and his team finally found a fresh breeze and for the last 14 hours Cheyenne has had a bone in the teeth and was rocketing east at a good clip. At the 06:00 poll Cheyenne was sailing at 28.19 knots, the fastest in the fleet.

The weather for the next four days looks good for Cheyenne. A large low pressure system is moving east at the same speed as Cheyenne and the team will be riding along the edge of the front as hard as they can, knowing that ahead of the system the seas will be flat and the winds relatively warm. Once the front overtakes them the wind will switch to the south and blow directly off the Antarctic ice pack, so the crew plans to keep the pace on for as long as they can to avoid the switch and the cold south winds.

Daedalus continues her impressive form. The boat is nearly two decades old and has already been around the world a number of times. Tony BULLIMORE (GBR) did some modifications to the boat when he took part in The Race in 2001, and has since lightened the boat by removing weight and added a new inventory of Quantum Sails. Like it's owner, who has a 'never quit' attitude, Daedalus continues to dog Cheyenne and will not let the larger catamaran open up any great distance.

Paul LARSEN on Doha 2006 had the fortune of sailing around the world with Tony BULLIMORE in 2001 and discusses the cat and dog fight in his log. 'We watch with great interest and amusement the fantastic effort being put in by Tony and the boys on Team Daedalus,' he wrote. 'They are not letting go of Cheyenne and appear to be closing once again. It's a real David and Goliath struggle that is great to follow. Some onboard this boat are still backing Daedalus to come out trumps in the end. One of Daedalus' watch leaders, Nick LEGGETT (RSA), was part of the Cheyenne team that set the 'round-the-world' record last year. He had the opportunity to sail once more on Cheyenne, but believed his chances were better with Tony. Some may have scoffed at the start, but I tell you what, any laughter on Cheyenne right now would be a little bit reserved.'

Olivier DE KERSAUSON and his team are back on the pace as they dive deeper into the Roaring Forties. At the 06:00 poll Geronimo was at 41 degrees south sailing at 22 knots. The massive trimaran and the web-footed skipper are once again back in their element.

Brian Hancock (as amended by ISAF)
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