This race covers the 1200 miles that separates the two big South American capitals, Buenos Aires in Argentina to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
Organised jointly by the Late Clube do Rio de Janeiro and the Yacht Club Argentino, the Race was first held in 1947, when it was won by `Alfard' in 257 hours, 40 minutes and 21 seconds. The race has grown over the years to become an offshore classic.
The 2002 event, the Twentieth Race, started on Saturday 26 January 2002, from Buenos Aires. Without stopovers this race presents three different parts. First is the tricky Rio de la Plata from BA to Montevideo, followed by the sail to Rio de Janeiro facing the adverse currents and prevailing northeastern winds, followed by the final strategical problem of entering Río, along what is usually a calm coastline from Angra dos Reis to Guanabara Bay.
As of yesterday, Wednesday January 30, at 01.30 Local Time, the fleet was sailing in another clear night with south winds, everybody advancing to the NE at speeds ranging from 4 to 7 knots.
`Fortuna II', the boat of the argentine Navy was sailing steadily some 50 miles from the coast of Porto Alegre, more than 60 miles ahead of her Brazilian counterpart `Marlin - PetroBras'.
Their seven rivals were passing Rio Grande but some 20 miles nearer land. `Utopía' mantained the third place on the water in a private duel with "Cosa Nostra" that was 10 miles outside. A few miles behind, `Místico' sailed a little ahead of the only ketch `Cocktail' which with stronger winds was improving her boatspeed considerably. `Manila-Biogénesis' was the outermost boat of the fleet and was accelerating with stronger winds. `Fanfarron II' has not benefited by opting for a coastal strategy, missin the more favourable offshore conditions. `Rocio' currently brings up the tail end from a position 20 miles off the coast.
Moving into the early afternoon, positions had changed in a vivid proof of the fighting. Some 20 miles from the lighthouse of Conceiçao, midway between Lagoa dos Patos to the south of Porto Alegre, with no more than 30 miles between them were the seven boats pursuing their two naval rivals.
`Utopía' still held the lead in the chasing pack but was being seriously challenged by `Fanfarron II' who had headed inshore. `Rocio' having done some superb spinnaker work was ahead of `Cocktail', who had advanced over `Mistico' who trailed by 6 miles, followed by `Manila-Biogenesis', and `Cosa Nostra' who had fallen to the last place.
Unfortunately the satellite tracking is not correctly working for the leading boats Fortuna II' and `Marlin-PetroBras', with position reports dependent on radio communications, and it is hoped the sets will soon be operating properly. However, at this stage in the race there is no clear favourite and it is still anybody's race.