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28 October 2004, 04:55 pm
Westerly Move For Fleet
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Global Challenge 2004/5
Portsmouth GBR - Buenos Aires

This afternoon, the fleet have almost all made an unmistakable move to the west in response to both the current wind direction, and the looming low-wind area.
It looks as if they will move inland to cut inshore of the small high-pressure cell and take advantage of a path that keeps them in the better winds. Although the winds will change from the trades to headwinds, they should keep moving at a respectable pace.

On the race viewer you can see that the fleet are passing over a patch of sea coloured greener than the surrounding ocean. On a chart, you can see that this is a line of seamounts leading offshore. These extinct volcanic cones rise steeply up from the sea floor. The yachts can see the reading on their depth gauges change rapidly from 4700m of the Brazil Abyssal Plain to just 30 or 40 metres if they happen to pass near or directly over one. The satellite images we are using are approximations of the visible spectrum; although the crews may not notice any difference in actual sea colour, the areas around these seamounts are more productive and full of sea life.

There will be decisions to make about their inshore route, as they are approaching an oilfield which they will want to avoid. It's clearly marked on the charts, with the ominous note that it contains "unlit objects and submerged obstructions" as well as the more normal wellheads.

Once past the oilfield they will approach the latitude of Cabo Frio and Rio de Janeiro, (the virtual 'waypoint' you can see as a kink in the rhumb line on the race viewer), and meet the Brazil Current, giving them 1-2 knots of assistance in the right direction. Then they sail onwards to Buenos Aires and the River Plate, to arrive (hopefully) towards the end of next week.
Kerry Dye
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