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20 April 2005, 10:58 am
Slow, Slow Progress
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Oryx Quest 2005

It is painful to watch as the Argos course that tracks Daedalus on her voyage around the world shows a thin red line wobbling along a course for Qatar.
The Argos tracking programme is programmed to show different colours for different boat speeds; red means that the speed in less than five knots. In fact a closer look at each poll shows some of the instant speed readings as low as three knots.

It is an ignoble end for a fine racing catamaran after a near perfect non-stop circumnavigation of the world. There was, however, one spot on the Argos that showed boats speed of ten knots and it was the same time Tony BULLIMORE (GBR) was firing a short missive off to Race HQ. 'We are going along at around ten knots on a course of 318 Degrees true,' he wrote. 'We are north of the Bulcha Oilfield and will probably stay on this tack for a few miles before we go over to a starboard tack which is more favourable for taking us to the finishing line. At the moment l do believe that we could still get across the finishing line on the Wednesday. We have a fairly strong northerly wind created by a moderate cold front that has been forecast by everybody. If the wind should go round a little, and free us up, we could get a few hours of exhilarating sailing that could take a good few miles off the distance to run. We are not on the favoured tack, and when we go over to a starboard tack, we can see that we are eating up more miles.'

It seems that the northerly wind did not hold and a few hours later Daedalus was back into low single digits. There are in a transition zone between wind being generated by a small stationary low in the Gulf of Oman and a weak area of high pressure over Qatar. There should be a reasonable northerly wind blowing between the two systems, but judging by Daedalus's performance the real life situation does not correspond with the weather maps. So as the skipper and crew think longingly about that fine first meal that they will sit down to when they finally make dry land, they instead have to tuck into the last few stores left on board.

At least the are not bored. There is a lot of shipping of all kinds continually passing by, going in all directions, and for a while yesterday afternoon they were buzzed by a helicopter. The occupants seemed interested in what BULLIMORE and his team were doing, but after a while lost interest and flew over the horizon probably in search of bigger fish to fry.

At the 0600 hours GMT poll on Wednesday morning Daedalus was 130 miles away from the finish. If the forecasted breeze materializes they should be able to see the tall building of Doha before the sun sets on another perfect day in the desert.

Brian Hancock (As Amended By ISAF). Image, BULLIMORE and his crew on Daedalus are almost there:© Quest International Sports
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