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The Race...a wrap of the last week

by Barry Pickthall on 25 Feb 2001
With Grant Dalton and his Club Med crew predicting a finish back in
Marseilles on March 2 or 3, the race is now on for TEAM LEGATO, Warta
Polpharma and Team Adventure, still in the Pacific to cover the remaining
10,000 miles within the 30 day deadline.

With 2,700 miles still to cover, only a dismasting or collision could halt
Club Med's remorseless pace. Now within 1,000 miles of the Azores, her
nearest rival, Innovation Explorer is trailing 700 miles astern and still
has the Doldrums to navigate through.
Back in the Pacific, the Poles on Warta Polpharma are not giving up 3rd
place without a fight. They left Wellington on the 17th February, two days
ahead of the faster Cam Lewis skippered Team Adventure which overtook them
on Thursday. But this morning the gap between the two is just 1.5 miles!
1,700 further back, Tony Bullimore's TEAM LEGATO crew are still trying to
shake off the High pressure system that has been moving East with them. 'We
are trying to head south as fast as we can, but the winds are from the south
at the moment and stopping us from getting down into the Southern Ocean'
said Bullimore today. As soon as they do, then the chase will be on catch
up with Warta Polpharma. 'We took 1,800 miles out of them on the stage from
the Cape of Good Hope to New Zealand, so we are hopeful of being back in
contention again by the time we get to Cape Horn,' Bullimore said.
However, now down to six crewmembers after Armand Coursodon Olivier Cusin
and Jason Owen stepped off the boat in Wellington nursing injuries and BBC
reporter Rob Salvidge decided to call it a day, the remaining crewmembers
will have their work cut out. 'We've divided ourselves into two watches of
three, working four hour shifts, and it is working out well.' Said the
British skipper. 'Things are going to be harder, but there is a
determination onboard to see this through and catch up with the Poles again.
All we need is some wind.'

Back in the Atlantic, Club Med crossed the Equator at 30 degrees West, but
Innovation Explorer is aiming to cross at 33 or even 34 W in the hope of
passing through the Doldrums in the shortest time. 'We have decided to
change tactics and look for a gateway in the west'. Jérôme Teigné, a member
of crew onboard Innovation Explorer justified the very west bound path of
Loïck Peyron's giant catamaran today.' Our navigator, Roger Nilson, is
spending an enormous amount of time at the chart table and he thinks the
most favourable crossing point, is to be found at around 33 or even 34
degrees West.' Innovation hopes to both cross the Doldrums at their
narrowest point and benefit from a rotation of the easterly trade winds to
the south to quickly get out of the calms before it is their turn to face up
to the great north-east trades that sweep the ocean from the Mauritanian
coast as far as the Caribbean.
'We've still got air' confirmed Skip Novak, 'on the edge of a squall line,
we are sailing under big gennaker at 23/24 knots. The night was marked by
these sudden apparitions of strong squalls. At one time we handed the
reacher in a hurry in a violent acceleration of the wind up to more than 30
knots. The crew were disappointed about the absence of rain in these wind
blasts, several of us would have appreciated a shower!'
Club Med has less to shout about at the moment. 'We have barely more than 14
knots of wind' admitted Franck Proffit, 'which is not much. The trade winds
seem well established on our files and we are expecting an increase to more
than 20 knots.' The leader of The Race is sailing on flat water, beating to
windward, and is trotting towards the disturbed weather patterns forming to
her north. On the southern edge of a huge depression centred 1200 miles
south-west of the Azores, Grant Dalton has his eye on a westerly flow ideal
for gently sliding, on port tack towards Gibraltar.
There is no time to loose because this system is moving away to the east. He
is going to have to climb dead north if he hopes to latch onto this by
Sunday evening. As long as the sea remains flat, the Club Med men are
putting the accent on speed. But the trade winds will inevitably trouble the
waters. The big catamaran will have to face up to the chop, each shock being
felt throughout the rig. So close to the goal Grant Dalton will have no
alternative but to slow down and be patient.

In brief...
Grant Dalton has revealed the names of the members of crew apparently the
most affected by the diminishing supplies of food on board Club Med: they
are the Frenchman Nicolas Pichelin and the Italian Stefano Rizzi; 'By the
looks of them they are each short of about 7 or 8 kilos' confirmed Grant.

The cat and the albatross!
Cam Lewis never gets tired of admiring albatrosses from his Team Adventure.
The giant cat is mixing it with the giant bird, prince of the Southern
Ocean. And the two speed crazy creatures observe each other with curiosity,
the cat hurtling down the watery slopes at more than 27 knots, while the big
bird effortlessly glides a few metres above the trampoline.

The maxi-monohull 'Watcher' helmed by Hervé Laurent is pursuing with
professionalism her mission as 'sheepdog' of The Race fleet. She is
currently sailing in a strong south-westerly flow, 450 miles to the south of
Team Legato.

Sewing bee!
New sewing session last nigh aboard Innovation. The now famous reacher had
to be handed once again for further repairs. The numerous repairs that have
already been carried out on it would seem to be depleting the albeit
important reserves of adhesive, thread and cloth.

Jérôme Teigné (Innovation Explorer): 'The heat is really stifling, more than
on the trip down, I think. For those whose off-watch is in daytime, it's
terrible because the cabins are superheated and humid, and there isn't a
square centimetre of shade on deck where you can sleep!'

Skip Novak (Innovation Explorer): 'The only ones to have lost any weight
with us are Xavier (Dagault), who's not complaining, and Thierry
(Douillard). We are still working on the basis of 5500 calories per day, but
unlike Club Med, we've still got plenty of bars to nibble in between meals.
I really believe that with all their sails, the boys on Club Med must have
had to be really active during this round-the-world, and therefore consumed
far more calories than us.'

Grant Dalton (Club Med): 'I have certainly appreciated this round-the-world
as much as, or more than, my previous circumnavigations.'

Grant Dalton and Skip Novak (without conferring with each other): 'A
trimaran would certainly have been faster in the Atlantic part of the
course, but a catamaran offers better guarantees of safety in the Southern
Ocean with less risk of burying the bows than with three hulls!'

Leading positions at 03:00 GMT today
1. Club Med 2,744 miles to finish - Rounded Cape Horn 11.02.01
2. Innovation Explorer +716 miles - Cape Horn 12.02.01
3. Team Adventure 6,317 miles - Left Wellington 19. 02. 01
4. Warta Polpharma 6,319 miles - Left Wellington 17. 02. 01
5. Team Legato 8,078 miles - Left Wellington 21. 02. 01
6. PlayStation - RETIRED 14.01.01

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