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18 March 2005, 01:43 pm
Two Different Oceans
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Oryx Quest 2005

At the 0700 hours GMT poll on Friday morning Daedalus was 425 miles from the Los Lobos turning mark. The forecast, however, shows that the next 24 hours are going to tricky sailing for the crew.
Tony BULLIMORE (GBR) and his team on Daedalus are trucking north as a weak front passes over the boat. The front, bringing squally weather, is a relief from the frustrating calms of a day ago and the big cat is making steady progress up the coast of Argentina.

A new low pressure system is currently forming over land to the north and west of Daedalus. It is forecast to move southeast and deepen, meaning that it will pass directly in front of BULLIMORE and his team feeding the same bumpy conditions and vicious squalls that Doha 2006 experienced as they neared the turning mark. This region is known for Pampero's, small localized squalls that hit with an intensity that can cripple an unaware crew.

The systems develop over land where hot dry air from the Argentinean pampas generate energy before moving out over the ocean. The first sign is a low, cigar-shaped cloud on the horizon. The ocean becomes still and glassy with a sudden increase in humidity. Then the wind comes, strong and gusty, howling through the rigging and driving horizontal spray that makes it difficult to reduce sail and keep the boat moving in the right direction. These waters are familiar to BULLIMORE and he will be sure to be keeping an eye out for these unwanted Argentinean exports.

Meanwhile on the other side of the ocean Doha 2006 has been dealt their first bad wind card in many weeks. After being forced south to pass under the South Atlantic High, they continued sailing east under a second high that had formed in the Indian Ocean. A day ago skipper, Brian THOMPSON (GBR) was hoping that they would be able to skirt under that system as well, but it is not to be.

The Indian Ocean high has steadily increased in size, rising in pressure until it has become a giant obstacle that stands between Doha 2006 and Madagascar. Passing under and to the east of the system now seems an impossible route and THOMPSON and his team have made the tough decision to pass it to the west. This new tactic means strong headwinds for the next few days as the Qatari cat sails north out of the Southern Ocean.

They will not see any relief from the upwind sailing until they are close to the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, still 1,500 miles away. The time for some prudent sailing is ahead. It is precisely these same conditions that crippled Geronimo a month ago. Olivier de KERSAUSON (FRA) believes the boat hit a submerged object, however the relentless, bone-jarring pounding experienced as a maxi-cat goes to windward are precisely the kind of conditions when damage can happen. They are clearly taking it slow as their day's run for the last 24 hours was a paltry 245 miles. Daedalus has already taken over a hundred miles out of their lead.

Brian Hancock. Image, Crew Aboard Doha 2006:© Quest International Sports
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