The ridge of High pressure that extends from the African coast far out into the Atlantic Ocean, finally has the Class 2 yachts in its grip.
The sun is shining, and the ocean has turned from a dark, chopped-up sea to endless, undulating turquoise swells.
It's perfect weather for working on your tan and doing maintenance around the boat, but when your mind is on getting to Cape Town it can be the most frustrating kind of sailing. As birthday boy John Dennis on Bayer Ascensia wrote, 'I am wondering if I will get to Cape Town by Christmas."
John is not alone in his frustration. Alan Paris on BTC Velocity sent this note: "Well I finally have 4 knots of wind after only 2 knots or so. It has been variable in direction for the last 4 hours."
Tim Kent on Everest Horizontal, sharing the same waters, had this to say about the conditions. "This morning the air went completely away for a couple of hours. I had just spotted Derrick Hatfield's Spirit of Canada and had spoken to him for a while on the VHF when it went totally to bed. I did my first two 360 degree bobbing circles of the race, then came a long series of light-air tacks and calms. Presently, Alan Paris on BTC Velocity emerged from the gloom of a light rain shower and he and I spoke for a while and then he was gone - heading west as I head south."
While the Class 2 yachts do circles around their own wakes, a thousand mile to the south Class 1 leader Bobst Group/Armor Lux is also slowing down. This morning Bernard Stamm had lost miles to his closest competition, Thierry Dubois on Solidaires and Emma Richards on Pindar. He is at 9 degrees north, on the fringes of the doldrum belt. For the next day or two Bernard will see his lead diminish as the rest of his class sails in breeze, but they to will have to pay the piper and will slow down in the calms. It will be interesting to see how these two fleets come out of it after the weekend.
Positions as at 0600 UTC 26/10/02
||Bobst Group-Armor Lux
||Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America
||Spirit of yukoh
||Spirit of Canada