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The Race...Club Med moves away from Innovation Explorer

by Mer & Media on 26 Feb 2001
Sunday 25th February. Club Med is sailing comfortably and confidently towards the Straits of Gibraltar. Although not at high speed, the giant catamaran is in a controlling position in The Race with less than 10% of the course still to sail. Club Med's lead over second placed innovation Explorer was 717 miles at noon today and this will begin to open up again over the next few days.

Joined by satellite telephone this morning, skipper Grant Dalton had this to say: 'We are 2400 miles from the finish now and we are about to pick up our last weather system, the one that should take us all the way to the line. It is a big depression, the perfect storm; Europe will be battered by bad weather shortly. The sailing has not been the fastest lately and as I speak it is getting lighter again. The on watch crew are getting the halyard ready for the Code Zero spinnaker. But this should be the last quiet patch we have until a few days after the finish in Marseilles. We will pick up the influence of this depression and we'll be back down to smaller sails this evening and once again at high speed towards the Med.'

With regard to second placed Innovation Explorer, also now in the Northern Hemisphere but still under the influence of the Doldrums Dalton commented: 'I'm pleased to see we are opening up the distance again over Innovation Explorer again. I think we have paid are dues enough in this race and we need to get moving forwards again.'

Light winds are sometimes good as they allow residual seas to die down before the next weather patterns make their effects felt: 'This light period is quite good for us in some ways because the head sea associated with the headwinds we have had for the past few days will drop away and build up again in the right direction with the new Westerly winds that we will get soon. This is good for the boat because there will be less chance of us slamming into big head seas at pace, with the associated risks of damaging the boat. We just have to keep this boat in one piece between now and the finish.'

On the tactical situation with Innovation Explorer and what remains to be done before the finish: 'There are no real options left for Innovation Explorer. There is no way for them to pass us if we keep the boat in one piece. We are just going to keep ourselves between him and the finish line, mark him and cover his moves.'

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