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The Race..the Americans and Poles are fighting for position

by Keith Taylor on 24 Feb 2001
Ranking: 1. Club Med (2818 miles to finish), 2. Innovation Explorer (774 miles from leader), 3. Warta Polpharma (6367 miles from leader), 4. Team
Adventure (6369 miles from the leader), 5. Team Legato (8070 miles from leader)

'The seas are not pretty, and they are pretty big!' With those words, Cam Lewis, skipper of the 110-foot American catamaran Team Adventure, reported from the Southern Ocean today, 2,100 miles from Cape Horn.

Competing in The Race of the Millennium, Team Adventure reclaimed third place yesterday from the Polish boat Warta Polpharma, only to lose it again today. At the latest position report the Americans were gaining again and the Polish boat's lead had narrowed to just two miles.

The lead is calculated on the distance to the finish. The two boats are about 100 miles apart, deep in the Screaming Fifties, with the Polish boat in the northern berth as they surge towards Cape Horn. They are midway between the tip of South America and New Zealand.

'The wind speed is 40 knots and the boat speed is 20 knots,' Lewis reported via satellite email today. 'The smooth sailing of the last couple of days is now a distant memory. The sunshine and full sails are history.'

'We jibed onto port over 30 hours ago and the wind has slowly been building. It has gone through a wide arc all the way to the north and northeast and is now back again into the northwest. Sails have slowly been reduced and we are now down to three reefs in the main and no headsail.'

'The forecast is bleak. We will have more of this, with 30, 40 and maybe even 50 knots of wind for a few days, perhaps longer. Cape Horn lies ahead and it looks like it will live up to its reputation as a hard place to pass by unscathed.'

'Last night the temperature dropped and the fog rolled in, bringing on a serious concern for the danger of icebergs. None are expected, but as Jules Verne wrote, you can never be prepared enough. A constant vigil is being kept on deck looking out for bergs while below the navigators are watching the radar for the telltale blip. Luckily nothing has been spotted and we are back in clearer weather for the moment. It is also daylight.'

'Years of crisscrossing Maine's Penobscot Bay in thick fog have calloused me a bit for this type of night navigation, but I would rather duck and weave through lobster pot buoys than icebergs any day. The sea temperature is 10 degrees centigrade and the known area for icebergs is further to the south, so with any luck we will only have to deal with these big, soft water bumps and lumps.'

'Tropical storm Orma, to our north, will continue to give us some bad weather for a while.'

'Outside it's cold, raw, harsh and very wet. Banging on the computer keypads and looking out the hatch makes me more inclined to want crank up the heat and head back into my bunk than on deck for my watch.'

'Duty will soon call and I will get into my one-piece Henri Lloyd Drysuit, zip up, don some waterproof gloves, add a hat and goggles or wear a helmet and visor, and go up top to pilot this flying machine through the washing machine.'

'I very much look forward to getting out of this misnamed Pacific Ocean, past the Falklands, and well on our way north up the Atlantic. It's still a long, bumpy road and we will have to continue with respect and caution.'

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