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The Race leader now 1000 miles ahead

by Mer & Media on 14 Feb 2001
The giant catamaran Club Med has extended its already
impressive lead to more than 1000 miles over second placed Innovation Explorer. At
noon today the Grant Dalton-skippered boat was sailing at 18 knots some 800 miles to
the East of Mar del Plata on the Argentine coast.
The centre of the complex anticyclone that dominates the weather patterns in the South
Atlantic moves around from West to East and back again in a relatively predictable
fashion. Depending on the stage of its cycle when approaching its influence, a boat can
slip past easily or be trapped in light winds from one of its associated ridges for a long
time. An unusually bright and excited Grant Dalton had the following comments to make
this morning: 'A 1000-mile lead we'll take it all. 1000 miles is a nice buffer, we'll need a
lot for what is coming up. We are going to be slowed in the South Atlantic High.'

But conditions are still complex where Club Med is currently located. The boat has had
every set of conditions in the last 24 hours including some very confused and rough
seas: 'We had a rough night last night. We dropped down through the wardrobe all the
way down to three reefs and a storm jib. We have now gone back up the other way and
now we're flying every stitch we have, big spinnaker and full main.Last night it was
impossible to sleep. The boat was leaping around in all directions. I had to lie
spread-eagled face down in my bunk to rest. But even then I was being thrown around.'

But sailing further North means sailing towards warmer weather and generally more
pleasant conditions: 'There isn't a gradual warming up as you sail North. It is a sudden
transition. I've just been on deck doing some sail handling and I got really hot. Now I'm
down below with all my layers on and it is still really hot. Apart from the few hours
through the Cook Straits this is the first time we have started to feel warm for a very long

And on the pace being set by Club Med towards the finish line in Marseilles, Dalton was
adamant: 'A lot of people ask me when we are going to finish. It is really not the right
thing to talk about. There is no way we can work that out. It is just too many weather
systems away to want to predict at all.'

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