The trade winds have kicked in and Doha 2006 has taken off like a scalded cat, opening up respectable lead over Geronimo for the first time since the race started four days ago. All of the boats are free from the clutches of the high pressure system that provided frustrating sailing over the last forty-eight hours.
As expected Geronimo
and Doha 2006
, being first into the new breeze, have increased their lead over Cheyenne
. At daybreak this morning Doha 2006
by 24 miles with Cheyenne
a further 225 miles astern. It's welcome news on board the Qatar boat, but the crew are under no illusion that they have shaken de Kersauson and his team.
The new wind has lifted spirits on board Doha 2006
and the crew have been enjoying fast sailing for almost a day now. Paul LARSEN described the change of conditions in his daily log. "Yesterday the breeze filled in from the northeast
," he wrote. "Both ourselves on Doha 2006, and Geronimo, quickly powered up and flexed our muscles using our full righting moments and best tight reaching sails. Geronimo, who started off down to leeward, began to climb up through us passing less than a mile ahead. We seemed pretty well matched for speed and we were sailing very close for some time. Damian FOXALL in the galley was getting good glimpses of Geronimo under the opposite windward hull as we flew it clear of the water."
Geronimo continued sailing the higher course, most likely because of a different sail inventory than Doha 2006, and by Thursday morning were to the east and slightly north of Qatari boat.
The yachts are now well into the Indian Ocean and in the area where the devastating undersea earthquake took place six weeks ago. It's all new waters for these sailors and they have been seeing some very strange sights as they sail parallel to the coast of India. Cheyenne reported seeing two sea snakes and were briefly visited by some fishermen from Iran who came over to say hi, no doubt intrigued to see what spaceship had landed in their waters. Fortunately all sailors share a common bond and the large US on the Cheyenne's sails did not seem to deter their curiosity.
No sooner had the new wind kicked in and the boat speed increased, Cheyenne collided with a large marine mammal damaging the port daggerboard. Some of the crew removed the daggerboard to repair it while others took on a more important job; they wedged themselves into the head to unclog the single most important piece of equipment on board. Claire BAILEY, ships doctor on Cheyenne, has also been busy. "We have had a couple of minor medical problems and one serious one" she wrote in her daily log. "Anders is suffering from a severe allergic reaction to his neoprene lined boots. He has bad blistered skin which is painful and looks nasty. I have sorted him out with some steroids and anti histamines, but we are not sure how we will get round this problem in the Southern Ocean." Good sea boots are probably the most important item of clothing for the crew once they hit the cold weather.
As the boats sail south the air temperature is rising steadily creating stuffy conditions on board. The crew on Doha 2006 have not lost their sense of humour as Paul LARSEN describes life on board. "Below decks is heating up as with the increase in speed comes spray and we have to shut the hatches. It gets uncomfortable pretty quickly when the air stops moving around down there. One thing it does do, however, is produce some real crimes against fashion." The air temperature and the crimes against fashion are certain to continue as the boats approach the doldrums, or Pot au Noir as the French like to call the windless zone just north of the equator. They should start feeling the full effect of the area within the next 24 hours.