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12 April 2005, 12:27 pm
Dog Days In The Doldrums
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Oryx Quest 2005

It is still painfully slow aboard Daedalus as Tony BULLIMORE (GBR) and his team struggle to get free from the grip of the doldrum belt. In the past three days they have covered less than 300 miles through the water and despite some occasional steady breeze it does not look likely that they are going to be on a fast train north any time soon.
At one point during Monday afternoon they actually sailed backwards at 2 knots; not exactly a stellar performance for one of the world's fastest catamarans. Still, like all sailboats, it is wind that they need and plenty of it before they can start to knock off some big day's runs. There is very little the crew can do other than sit and hope for a change in conditions.

Daedalus is currently on the same latitude as the southern tip of India, about 550 miles off the coast. To the north an area of high pressure has established itself very nicely with a steady clockwise circulation of wind. The fringes of the new breeze are tantalizingly close but it looks as if there is nothing steady for about the next 200 miles. After that it is going to be a long, hard slog to windward, but even pounding uphill will be a welcome relief after fours days of sitting still.

While the boat flops around on an empty sea all the crew can do is sit and wait. And speculate. BULLIMORE is still hoping that they can set a new fastest circumnavigation time for the boat. The old record, set in 1994/1995, was accomplished by the late Sir Peter BLAKE (NZL) and Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON (GBR) when the boat was named ENZA. Their time was 74 days. BULLIMORE is hoping that they can get around in less than 70 days but it will all depend on the cards that the wind gods hold for them.

In his log he says: 'We are still on target to break all the boat's previous records. We have got to cross the finishing line in 74 days and a few hours to do this. If we had the right winds, we would get in in under 70 days, but right now we must wait to see what conditions we get. All we can do is look out over the very calm and still waters of the Indian Ocean, watch the sun coming alive in the east, and relax with a mug of coffee. It would be very nice to know that we are getting some very favourable winds later in the day, but we must wait and see.'

At the 0700 hours GMT poll on Tuesday morning Daedalus was still 1,575 miles short of the finish line. In order to get to Doha in less than 70 days Daedalus would need to average more than 15 knots. Not impossible for large catamaran, but all it needs is more of that fickle and elusive stuff called wind.

Brian Hancock (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Daedalus:© Quest International Sports
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