Day 04, Tuesday September 29, 1998

The weather was quieting down with hurricane Georges inland over Mississippi and already downgraded into the category of a tropical storm. Isabelle Autissier on PRB, and Mike Golding on Team Group 4, were taking the conservative track right down the middle. This strategy had them placed atop the class while the other 60-footers have decided to go theirs own way. For example, Hall has turned left and took course straight for the Bermuda islands, looking for a breeze. A high-pressure zone centered at 28N and 68-70W lied directly in the path of the fleet. Overnight, Hall got ahead of the Canadian Sebastian Reidl and Project Amazon, and seemed to he following Giovanni Soldini's track to the north. On the other hand Fedor Konioukhov and Marc Thiercelin were willing to chance a shorter course at the risk of falling into a windless hole.

BBAustissierPortret.jpg (22289 bytes) Isabelle Austissier Foto Billy Black

Yesterday Golding was leading the class, but today Isabelle replaced him. Golding had a tough 24 hours. He was sailing just ahead of PRB when he noticed that the two top battens had popped out of the back of the mainsail. The weather was light and boat speed was low so it was an ideal time to fix the problem. With the main down, he set to work with a needle and palm to stitch the pockets closed. Austissier gained and past him to leeward. An hour later the job was done and he began catching up to Isabelle.

BBTeamGroupBow.jpg (19814 bytes) Team Group 4 Foto Billy Black
After several hours he caught and passed her and he went down for a thirty-minute nap. He had hardly closed his eyes when the spinnaker started dropping into the sea to leeward. Very soon it became clear to him that a halyard had parted at the top of the mast!

He immediately started clearing up the mess. The spinnaker was now firmly in the water, right under the boat keel and rudders. He stopped the autopilot to prevent the sail jamming in-between the rudders and the hull. He dropped the main and waited for the spinnaker to sink clear of the hull. The boat swung round and the sail came clear. Then came the job of recovering the huge waterlogged sail.

Golding set sails again and continued down the track. His only halyard for spinnakers and gennekers was gone. The only solution was to go aloft and fit a replacement. But first he had to read the instructions as the last (and first) time he used the special climbing kit was in Southampton at the beginning of the year.

It was now early evening and he knew that he would lose a whole night of racing if he did not solve the problem immediately. So he left the boat sailing along under full main and genoa as this steadied the boat. Quite swiftly he was at the masthead and trying to unravel the parted halyard. As the sun set he watched PRB disappear over the horizon from the top of the mast.

It was getting dark now and Golding was physically tired but before he got back on deck he still had to solve the problem with his jammed climbing kit preventing him from sliding down. In the early morning, PRB just reappeared before he gybed away to the east.

In Class II, leader J.P. Mouligne could not bear to follow Soldini on his northerly track and JP slightly altered Cray Valley's course to the south. He was now following Autissier and Golding.

BBCrayValleyDetTop.jpg (23320 bytes) Cray Valley Foto Billy Black
Mouligne had very peaceful night. He had seen a few ships passing by far away but no sign of other competitors since spotting Gartmore yesterday morning. He was running with the asymmetrical spinnaker since that morning making direct course to a waypoint 2260 miles away which was his intended entry to the doldrums. In the morning he received a call from COMSAT-C on his satellite phone and the operator asked if he could speak with JP! "No problem," answered JP, "I am the only one here!"

"The technology used on board in this race is unbelievable", he mentioned in his E-mail. "I am talking on the satellite phone, while sending an email on my PC, while the boat is running under autopilot, the GPS updates the position every few seconds, and I am making fresh water with my desalinator, all at the same time! I just hope it all works until Cape Town."

Mouligne was trailed by Garside and Japanese sailor Minoru Saito. The 64-year-old Minoru does not expect to win the race, but this morning he found himself right in the middle of the fleet. BBMinoruSaitoFace.jpg (17583 bytes) Minoru Saito Foto Billy Black

Positions:

Class 1

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Austissier

PRB

30 18N

069 10W

6273

7.6

0

1540

2

Golding

Team Group 4

30 33N

069 05W

6277

7.5

3.8

1540

3

Thiercelin

Somewhere

30 11N

069 30W

6284

7.4

10.7

1540

4

Soldini

Fila

32 33N

067 57W

6289

7.4

15.9

1540

5

Hall

Gartmore Inv Mg

32 19N

06909W

6334

6.7

60.9

1540

6

Reidl

Project Amazon

32 00N

069 57W

6360

6.4

86.3

1540

7

Konioukhov

Mod Univ Human

29 48N

074 05W

6478

4.7

205.1

1540

Class 2

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Mouligne

Cray Valley

30 56N

069 55W

6326

6.8

0

1544

2

Garside

Magelan Alpha

29 45N

071 28W

6359

6.4

33.6

1544

3

Van Liew

Balance Bar

30 12N

071 23W

6369

6.3

42.7

1544

4

Saito

Shuten-dohji II

31 05N

070 51W

6372

6.2

45.7

1544

5

Davie

South Carolina

31 29N

070 54W

6386

6

60.3

1544

6

Stricker

Rapscallion III

31 09N

071 38W

6408

5.7

82.6

1544

7

Petersen

No Barriers

31 12N

071 40W

6412

5.6

86.2

1544

8

Hunter

Paladin II

32 00N

075 08W

6590

3.2

264.2

1544

9

Yazykov

Wind of Change Rus

32 50N

079 56W

6829

0

503.1

1544

Richard Konkolski
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