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11 February 2005, 10:08 am
The Azores Challenge
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It is clear by the positioning this morning that Conrad HUMPHREYS (Hellomoto) and Joé SEETEN (Arcelor Dunkerque) will not be negotiating the Azores islands in the same way.
Joé will round to the left of it, while Conrad looks set to cross through it. The British skipper is in search of a more direct course and hence less miles, while the Dunkirk skipper is in search of more favourable sailing conditions. This morning they are 65 miles from each other, Conrad having the advantage, and they have 330 miles of lateral separation. For his part Jean-Pierre DICK (Virbac-Paprec) is multiplying the gybes on the approach to France. He is 659 miles from the finish with an ETA of Sunday afternoon.

With 15 knots of instantaneous speed at the first ranking of the day, on a heading of 20°, Jean Pierre is going quickly but not really directly to the goal. At present the prevailing W'ly wind is preventing him from making a direct course and the Nice skipper is being forced into making numerous gybes to stay as close as possible to the ideal course of 90°. He is controlling the pressure from the wind either by closing in on or distancing himself from the depression currently suspended over the British Isles.

In short, sailing conditions are not easy at the moment as this type of boat is not made for sailing with the wind on the aft quarter in the breeze. As a result JP is having to helm a great deal and given his lack of energy he is only able to use his automatic pilot for short periods so snatches of sleep are few and far between. Right now he is 659 miles from the goal and his VMG is set to improve considerably over the coming hours. He is currently level with latitude of Nantes and continuing to get in some northing as he tries to track down a good angle on the wind to home in on Les Sables d'Olonne.

Behind the ranking battle is still raging between Conrad HUMPHREYS (Hellomoto) and Joé SEETEN (Arcelor Dunkerque). They have 65 miles from each other in relation to the VMG and most notably 330 miles of lateral separation. Joé is clearly going to pass above the Azores archipelago while Conrad is set to pass between the islands. At present, Joé is 260 miles south of Florés, the most W'ly of the Portuguese islands, and Conrad is 380 miles from the passage between Terceira and Sao Miguel. Conrad is holding onto a direct course while Joé is taking the long way round in downwind conditions and more pressure. This West/East separation is also accompanied by a North/South separation since Conrad is level with Madeira and Joé is level with Cap Saint-Vincent (Portugal). The bets are on!

Bruce SCHWAB (Ocean Planet) is still in an Easterly air flow on a N/NE'ly heading. Having made less than 200 miles over the past 24 hours, it is clear that the American's boat isn't best suited to the reaching conditions. Narrow and not very powerful, it has been making just 8.2 knots of speed over the past 24 hours. Currently at the latitude of Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott, Bruce's closest pursuer is 1200 miles behind him.

Benoît PARNAUDEAU (Max Havelaar/Best Western) is 300 miles from the equator. He is making good speed, one of the only backrunners to rack up over 200 miles in the past 24 hours. He is moving steadily along in an E/SE'ly air flow generated by the trade wind from the Southern hemisphere. This same wind looks set to carry him as far as the Doldrums, a tricky patch that he is likely to encounter in a couple of days time…

Anne LIARDET (Roxy) is 80 miles from the Brazilian coast, just between Salvador de Bahia and Aracaju. Anne is still in a transition system between two weather phenomena, making northing to try to hook onto this famous trade wind which will fill in as it moves in from the NE. 100.6 miles in 24 hours for Anne at the moment…

Raphaël DINELLI (Akena Vérandas) is suffering the same punishment, making just 128 miles over the past day. Judging by his average speed over a half hour period this morning (1.2 knots), things aren't set to improve in a rush either. Clearly Raphaël is also in a transition phase as he approaches the famous Brazilian shallows of Cadeia Vitoria Trindade. The sea bed rises sharply at this point from 4000 metres to just 54 in 20 metres!

Karen Leibovici (Benefic) is 88 miles off Cabo Frio, above the bay of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Karen has made the best progress of the trailing trio in the past 24 hours, though she too is set to hit the new transition phase that Raphaël is suffering just 200 miles ahead. Far from easy, this climb up the Atlantic towards the equator!

Event Media (As Amended by ISAF)
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