Brad van Liew, skipper of Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America, became the first Class 2 entrant to cross the invisible line of the equator and join his Class 1 mates in the Southern Hemisphere.
Brad's email to race HQ was short and to the point. "Neptune ceremony went well. I am at 01 14S, 27 45W and all is well. Wind starting to back a bit and is now blowing out of the southeast at 15 knots. The sky is finally clear."
That email came on the heels of a much longer message sent earlier in the day where Brad described his difficult passage through the doldrums. "I hope this will help put to rest the notion that the doldrums are nothing more than the windless region between the northern and southern hemisphere weather patterns. This is not just an area where one simply goes slowly and demonstrates patience while the new winds form on your bow. Later today I will cross over the equator and be into the southern hemisphere. It is definitely a milestone, but let me assure you that the test of the doldrums is what will always make a sailor, really want, or badly need, to get to the other hemisphere and not take the voyage lightly."
While Brad was enjoying the brisk southeast trades and clipping the miles off his long passage down the South Atlantic, the rest of his class was still in the grips of the doldrums and enjoying close racing. Alan Paris, skipper of BTC Velocity had a surprise sighting when he went on deck. He later wrote an email and sent a photo. "This morning I was greeted with an expected combination of squally conditions with large groups of thunderstorms and frequent lightening........and John Dennis ??"
Out of the haze on his starboard side sailed Bayer Ascensia, Canadian flag flying, but no skipper in sight. John was below trying to raise Alan on the VHF. Alan's email continued. "We had passed within two miles last night at around midnight. John tells me he immediately gybed south. I kept going for an hour and then gybed. Amazing that in this large expanse of ocean two boats can meet at almost the same point, and as I write I am about 1000 yards astern."
To the south of Alan and John, the other Canadian, Derek Hatfield on Spirit of Canada, was sailing in typical doldrums conditions. "I was sleeping in the cockpit, my favorite spot when it's warm, when before I could get up, the boat was hit with a gust of about 30 knots and hard driving rain,"
he wrote. "The boat was on its side, going fast. I had to put in two reefs and furl the jib to get it under control. By then of course, I was soaked. My only regret was that I didn't have any time to grab the soap and take a proper shower, something I could do with right about now."
Meanwhile on board Spirit of yukoh, Kojiro Shiraishi was working his way through the doldrums the old fashioned way; he was praying for better conditions. Or maybe he was just meditating himself into a better frame of mind.
Showers must be on the mind of Class 1 leader Bernard Stamm as he enters his last week of Leg 2. Stamm send a tentative email to race operations. "There is a small disturbance between me and Cape Town otherwise I think it could be all plain sailing. I hope to be in port by the 14th."
If Stamm maintains his speed he will have had another record breaking passage.
Positions at 0600 GMT, 08/11/02
||Bobst Group-Armor Lux
||Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America
||Spirit of Canada
||Spirit of yukoh