Day 18, Tuesday October 13, 1998

The boats were moving into and through the Doldrums. For the next few days the Doldrums would remain a narrow strip. But the boats behind the leaders could find themselves in more difficult conditions because the Doldrums could expand quickly. For now the leading boats were lucky despite all difficulties.

BBThiercelinFace.jpg (17517 bytes) Marc Thiercelin Foto Billy Black

Class I leader Thiercelin was zigzagging for the last 24 hours. He entered the Doldrums well to the west of the leading pack, has steered east, then northeast, and finally south in his quest for wind. In the last BOC Challenge race, Isabelle speeded through but she was more than 10 degree farther east than Thiercelin this morning.

MSGartmoreNarrowStart3.jpg (24274 bytes) Josh Hall's Gartmore Marek Slodownik

Josh Hall and Mike Golding had changed places early today. Hall e-mailed: "Doldrums look very narrow so hopefully we can nip through during the next 48 hours. I have taken a more easterly course the last few days. This has lost me some miles for the moment but under the Doldrums the winds are southeast and if we are to make it around Brazil without some real losing tacks I need to be east."

BBFilaStearn.jpg (22393 bytes) Giovani's Fila Foto Billy black

Autissier remained in fourth. But Giovanni Soldini was only ninety miles behind Autissier in the distance to Cape Town and 166 miles behind Thiercelin. Keeping east, Soldini had made up many miles during the last few days.

BBAustissier.jpg (21998 bytes) Isabelle Austissier Foto Billy Black

Isabelle had a tough time: "Yesterday was really difficult, alternating between squalls, calms, maneuvers, and hours and hours spent in the sun at the helm. It was a typical day in the Doldrums - squalls and calms - which, if we get out of it in the next hours, will have slowed us down by a day and a half. It's better this morning. I can make my way on a southerly course and I am in something that resembles a Tradewind. Perhaps I will have the chance to get closer to Marc, who has to sail close-hauled. In the squalls I have had northerly wind shifts which have allowed me to sail a little more to the East. But the point of Brazil is at 4 degrees South, which means I still have 8 degrees more to go (460 miles). By then I might have to tack. Everything depends on the direction of the Tradewinds. If they are from the East, we will be able to round the point and that will be advantageous for us. If they are southeast, it will be good for the English. At the moment it is certain that on our course, we cannot round it on a single tack. If this persists, I will wait for the most favorable moment."

Jean-Pierre was also noticing different conditions: "The last 2 days in the trade winds has been great sailing but things are changing rapidly this morning. I am now on the edge of the Doldrums. The wind has dropped and the sky is very cloudy. It will take a few days to get out of it, and I am looking at several sleepless nights ahead of me. The radar screen shows dark rain shower spots everywhere and I am getting my foul weather gear ready. The good news is that it looks as if I have built a lead on Magellan, 35 miles or so, which is very small, but I am going to try to capitalize on it in the next few days. I just saw my first ship in 4 days, a container carrier called ''Aquaquest'', going from Togo, West Africa, to Canada and we had a nice chat on the VHF. Still no dolphins or whales--maybe they are waiting for me on the other side of the equator."

BBMouligneDetail.jpg (20546 bytes) Mouligna Foto Billy Black

Mike Garside also wrote to race headquarters: "I'm closing on the Doldrums and looking for the narrowest part for the crossing. Thiercelin is almost through this area of fickle winds and has taken a course much further to the west than his close competitors. This gives me hope that my waypoint selected by Vincent Geake, before the race started, is going to be the right one. It is close to where Thiercelin entered the Doldrums."

FolGarsideSteerin2.jpg (34331 bytes) Michael Garside

Garside continued: " I spent the rest of a sad day cleaning up everything in sight. It's strange how dirty the cabin of a boat and its occupant can get even so isolated from the rest of the world! But by the evening everything was shipshape. I had washed and dried my clothes, had a bucket bath and a saltwater shave and was feeling quite mellow."

"I was determined to lose no more ground to JP and Brad, off to my left, but it was not to be - despite all my efforts to stay awake all night, I had lost seven miles in 24 hours to JP, putting him 39 ahead of me. I managed to hold Brad in third place, still 10 miles astern."

BBMagelanAlphaBow.jpg (27572 bytes) Magellan Alpha Foto Billy Black

"But then I had a nasty shock. I was below when suddenly Alphie started to tack. Within seconds we were flat on our side. The keel full out on the leeward side, the headsail backed and the main tied down to windward and also backed. Within seconds I had released every thing in the right order. Alphie was back on his feet and I gybed the boat back round on to the original heading and we were on our way."

"I was just wondering why this should have happened - the same problem had already occurred with my other pilot which is now out of action. But I am worried by the pilot. The same thing happened to me just as I was due to leave Madeira for Charleston on a training run in March. It happened again on the Atlantic Alone race. What is wrong with the system? I have checked it through on auto and vane modes and it seems fine at the moment. But for how long? I shall be in real trouble if I lose both pilots. I've enough trouble staying up at the very front of the field without a steering jinx. Time will tell."

In Class II, about 500 miles back behind Mouligne, Petersen commented: "I am making my way slightly E of S with the main and staysail set. It is blowing about 22 knots apparent and we are bouncing over some fairly large swell. It is like riding a bucking bull. Conditions have gone this way just in the last few hours. The seas are breaking over the bow and we are throwing a big spray as we come crashing off the waves."

BBRapscallionIIIBow.jpg (25937 bytes) Stricker's Rapscallion III

Positions:

Class 1

Place

Skiper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Thiercelin

Somewhere

01 28N

036 43W

3757

9.4

0

2140

2

Hall

Gartmore

05 05N

034 50W

3814

4.7

56.8

2140

3

Golding

Team Group 4

04 19N

035 34W

3816

7

58.7

2140

4

Austissier

PRB

03 11N

036 47W

3826

7

69.4

2140

5

Soldini

Fila

07 15N

035 19W

3923

10

165.9

2140

6

Reidl

Project Amazon

20 12N

042 24W

4752

2.5

995.4

2045

7

Konioukhov

Mod Univ Human

14 18N

047 33W

4762

2

1005.3

2044

Class 2

Place

Skiper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Mouligne

Cray Valley

07 14N

038 42W

4072

6.5

0

2144

2

Van Liew

Balance Bar

07 05N

039 48W

4116

8.2

44.3

2144

3

Garside

Magellan Alpha

06 38N

040 26W

4127

6.3

55.2

2144

4

Petersen

No Barriers

16 05N

042 48W

4604

6.8

532.6

2144

5

Davie

South Carolina

16 36N

042 20W

4605

5.8

533.6

2144

6

Saito

Shuten-dohji II

16 26N

043 14W

4637

7.2

565.8

2144

7

Stricker

Rapscallion III

18 28N

042 06W

4670

7.4

598.8

2144

8

Hunter

Paladin II

21 40N

045 09W

4927

4.7

854.9

2144

9

Yazykov

Wind of Change

19 49N

050 35W

5088

7.2

1016.5

2144

Richard Konkolski
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