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25 March 2005, 08:37 pm
A Good Friday
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Oryx Quest 2005

In the South Atlantic Tony BULLIMORE and his crew on Daedalus have started their slow turn north out of the Southern Ocean. If they continue on their present course they will pass close by the coast of South Africa, cutting the corner and further closing the gap between themselves and Brian THOMPSON'S team on Doha 2006.
In the last week Daedalus has taken over a thousand miles out of the larger catamaran as the crew on the Qatar boat have played ding dong with Tropical Cyclone Hennie. At the 0700 GMT poll on Friday morning Daedalus was 100 miles due south of tiny Gough Island sailing at speed as they get dragged along by the fringes of a Southern Ocean front. The wind has been gusting over 40 knots, blowing strong and steady out of the west.

'Yesterday was our best day yet with a 24-hour run of 525 miles,' Tony wrote in his daily log. 'We are now midway across the Atlantic with 1,500 miles to go before rounding the Cape of Good Hope. If these winds continue we will be heading into the Indian Ocean within the next 3 days.' 525 miles in a day is significant. In the mid 80s, shortly after the boat was originally launched as Formula Tag, it set a new 24-hour distance record of 525 nautical miles. At that time it seemed unbreakable, but technology does not stand still. The latest 24-hour speed record stands at 706.2 nautical miles, an average speed of 29. 42 knots, set in August last year by French sailor Bruno PEYRON and his crew on Orange II. Now that old record is just another good days sailing for Tony and his team. Despite munching up the miles, the crew are finding food pickings a little slim. Tony's log continues; 'While the racing is fantastic, we are running short of food which is not so good. We are okay for powdered milk, coffee, tea and chocolate drink, but have run out of sugar and are short on food. Our freeze dried fare should save the day, along with standby stocks of RyVita, but we have nothing to spread on it. No butter, jam, marmalade or anything else.'

Like Doha 2006 Tony and his crew are going to have to start food rationing soon.

At the same 0700 GMT poll Doha 2006 was sailing on a north-northeasterly course at 19 knots keeping a wary eye out for the tropical storm that had been dogging them for days. At present TS Hennie is located south of the island of Mauritius moving in a south-southeast direction at 10 knots. It's still a powerful storm, but Thompson and his team have done a fine job of giving the worst of it a wide berth. They are almost 800 miles from the center of Hennie enjoying a fast ride north despite the light wind conditions. 'At present we have full main and Solent sailing in 12 knots wind on the edge of the high-pressure system,' Brian THOMPSON wrote. 'The sea is a deep blue, the sun is shining, and the only spoiler is an easterly swell, big enough to limit our speed at present, but quite manageable so long as the on-deck team are playing the sheets and keeping the boat speed to 15 knots.'

Thompson and his navigator Will OXLEY have targeted a waypoint at 70 degrees east which they plan to reach before turning north. They are already 400 miles east of the longitude of the Gulf of Oman, almost due south of India. The double high pressure zones in the South Atlantic and Indian oceans, and this wide arc around Hennie, has added close to 3,000 extra miles to their course. Thompson's log continues; 'We should have good reaching conditions for the first 300 or so miles and then it may turn more upwind for us again. By this time we should be at the same latitude as Hennie and it will be the windiest section, but hopefully not much more than 25 knots for a short period. The further east we are the better it will be. So there we have it. We kept our options open for as long as possible and now we have made our bed and are lying in it. It's pretty comfortable; good enough for me to clock up some good sleep last night. Now we just have to carry out the plan and look after the boat as much as we can.'

Doha 2006 still has 3,760 miles to go to the finish in Qatar. After almost 20,000 miles of racing the end seems tantalizingly close, however there is still a lot of ocean between their bows and the warm sand of the Middle East. Later today the two remaining boats in the Oryx Quest 2005 will enter the eighth week of their around-the-world odyssey. While playing with ETA's is never an exact science, it's worth noting that if Doha 2006 is able to maintain their high teen average speed which they have kept up since the start, they will arrive back in Qatar in eight days.

To read the rest of Brian THOMPSON's log and all the crew logs from Doha 2006 go to www.maxicatdoha.com

To read the rest of Tony BULLIMORE's log and all the logs from Daedalus go to www.teambullimore.com

Brian Hancock
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