As illbruck’s lead is slowly eaten away News Corp has been making big gains in the north
The southerly yachts are waiting for the wind to shift into the northwest to give them a fast run in to Cape Horn.
The deep low to the southeast, and its associated front to the east of the fleet, is slowly moving away leaving a moderate 20 to 25 knot south westerly flow over the racecourse. Stronger wind is to the north and, as the flow is unstable, there are likely to be squalls bringing hail, sleet or snow to all. Troughs within the flow will swing the wind between southwest and northwest, but the predominant direction will be from south of west.
It looks as though the limping SEB will face a building depression and strong winds over the weekend. These winds will come from a secondary low which is expected to form on yet another front close to 57 degrees south and this will have gale force winds around it. As the depression moves to the east, strong northwest winds will not only catch SEB but also Amer Sports Too giving them a rounding of Cape Horn to remember.
News Corp was 100 miles to the north of leaders illbruck and has made some remarkable gains. In the 48 hours to 0400GMT they had improved their position by 100 miles and this looks likely to continue, but as illbruck heads north the divide has halved and the gains become smaller.
The more southerly yachts have been caught a little too close to the low-pressure and have seen a widening in the isobars and a drop in the wind. Until the wind veers to the northwest they are either going to continue taking a hit on starboard gybe heading still further south, or bite the bullet and head northeast. John Kostecki comments `Our nice lead has been slowly eaten up by the trailing boats today. They have had more breeze and a better shift which has given them the benefit of running up into us.' He goes on to add `Forecasting the winds in this part of the world is very difficult. I think the number one reason why nobody gives a damn about the weather in the Southern Ocean is because nobody comes here, except for us stupid sailors. Plus, being so far south (I think we are around 60 south at the moment) our Satcom B rarely works because of the angle it is on to reach the satellites. The combination of these two factors makes it very difficult for us to route the boat for the fastest course and position ourselves with the fleet.'
Small changes in wind direction are going to make a big difference and as soon as the port gybe becomes favourable the yachts will go on it. There are likely to be a number of false alarms in the shifting wind before it settles in the northwest and a direct course to Cape Horn can be steered.
It is looking like the first six boats will round the Horn within a few hours of each other, leaving the race wide open for the run up the Atlantic in the more variable conditions. illbruck has another 700 miles to hold onto their lead to be the first around the Horn and into the second stage of the leg.
The position reports at 04.08 on 9 February were:
||18 FEB 02 21:12 GMT
||Amer Sports One
||18 FEB 02 23:38 GMT
||19 FEB 02 00:30 GMT
||19 FEB 02 01:59 GMT
||19 FEB 02 02:48 GMT
||19 FEB 02 04:25 GMT
||Amer Sports Too
||20 FEB 02 19:49 GMT
||28 FEB 02 21:14 GMT