Day 06, Thursday December 10, 1998

A high pressure system has expanded further east from the African continent and created lots of wind south of 45 S and east of 40 E. This conditions favored the leaders who reached furthest south and east while light winds prevailed for all competitors sailing in the more easterly and northerly positions.

FolIsabellaTvarUp.jpg (18944 bytes) Isabelle Autissier

It reflected in Autissier's performance. She was southernmost from the whole fleet and almost furthermost east. She was making better than 17 knots, about two knots faster than the rest. Despite her early problem with her keel she established over 30 mile lead over Soldini in second position. As she described in her email she was ready for the next front to come: "I spent a sleepless night waiting for the front's wind shift, but better that than to have the boat in a mess if the shift is fast and you haven't seen it coming. The night was black as ink and very cold; wind 30-35 knots, but seas manageable. I'm still talking with Pascal Conq about a more permanent repair to the hydraulic ram. The barometer is rising strongly. We have to stay south, to avoid a high that will be far to the south. Pretty hard to get any rest in this washing machine screaming along at 20 knots. We're close to the islands, and there are lots of birds. Yesterday, I passed within 15 miles of Prince Edward Island."

FolTeamgroupDeckAir.jpg (21006 bytes) Golding's Team Group 4
Mike Golding on third position was less cautious about the weather and he almost dearly paid for his relaxed attitude as he described in his message: "Last night I rudely woke from a nap when I was slung head first from the central navigational seat. Team Group 4 had crash gybed and was rapidly laying over at 90 degrees. I had been blast reaching at up to 22kts with all three sails set in around 25kts of wind. A front had come through rapidly shifting the wind through 40 degrees. On deck the problem is a bit like 'pick up sticks'. Do anything in the wrong order and the racing at least, is over. The biggest issue is the rig, then the sails, and finally not allowing the boat to start sailing backwards, possibly damaging the rudders during the righting process. With the mainsail pressed up against the runners and all the sails aback, the boat will not come up - even moving the keel the full 90 degrees -- and it would further load up the rig. At least with the boat laid over there is very little wind pressure in the sails. Having decided to stay on the new gybe, I began unloading the water ballast and getting the keel back to centre. Bringing the new runner on and furling the genoa, are tricky jobs at 90 degrees, but once done the boat showed some signs of wanting to come up. Easing the old runner and keeling fully finished the job. An extra reef in the main saw us of at 20 knots again and all that was left was the clearing up below, hand pumping the remaining water ballast on port, and loading the new ballast on starboard. All told, Team Group 4 was probably on her side for 30 minutes with an hour's clearing up and getting back up to speed. Amazingly there appears to be no damage!"

FolGartmoreAir.jpg (22961 bytes) Hall's Garmore Invest. Mgmt.

Josh Hall in fifth place experienced the same trouble: "Well last night I had a rather humbling Southern Ocean experience. We were running hard at 16-20 knots when the boat crash gybed suddenly on a big wave, the mainsail slammed over and we were pinned on our beam end with the ballast in the wrong side. I was tossed off the chart table seat onto a bunk and then scrambled out into a near vertical cockpit. To right the boat I had to release everything and the roller headsail flogged wildly as I had to leave it to its own devices - my priorities were to sort out the running backstays to keep the rig in the boat and get the boat on her feet again. It took about an hour to re-gybe, by which time an expected cold front had swept in with 35+ knots of SWly. The headsail didn't furl properly as it was flogging out of control, leaving a pocket of sail exposed to the wind. The sheets that control it had wrapped themselves in a bar tight snake's honeymoon around the roller drum so the next two hours were spent on the bow straightening it all out before I could fully furl it. With the water temperature down at 4 degrees Celsia the icy waves that doused me every couple of minutes were less than helpful and I must admit a couple of times I just sat there looking back at the boat floodlit by the deck lights and the wake trailing astern as she surged along in the big waves and thought, at the same time - 'Wow - this is awesome!' and 'What on earth am I doing here?!' With the headsail back under control it was clear that I needed to put a third reef in the mainsail, and then set the staysail. Amazingly, a drama that took seconds to occur had taken nearly 4 hours to recover from and still the roller gear would need looking at in the daylight."

[The above-described troubles are rooted in self-steering systems. Sixteen years ago I was the only sailor in the first solo around the world race to control the boat exclusively with electronic autopilot. But with the help of my friends I developed wind vane type sensor hooked to my alarm system, which would inform me about any wind shift. Then I could correct my compass heading or I could trim my sails. Actually my autopilot course input relied on a magnetic compass or on wind-vane. Majority of boats at that time were steered by wind-vane powered self-steering devices.

Today's fast boats could be steered only by electronic autopilots. The course input comes from magnetic or other types of compasses and could be corrected by GPS information. However once set, the course is firmly held to by the steering system and any wind shift could cause a disaster especially if the new wind could fill the sails from the opposite side. New types of racing "skimming dishes" are as fast as the wind itself and in most cases the wind vane alarm system would not work properly. The only solution would be a very sensitive wind direction sensor connected to computer, which would be able to take in account boat speed, acceleration and other criteria. For now the only prevention for disaster is knowledge, experience and strong will as we can see in Isabelle case. If you are I little less than that, you just flip over.]

FolMagelanAlpha.jpg (20739 bytes) Garside's Magellan Alpha
In Class II Garside had extended his lead over Mouligne to 53 miles. Yazykov dropped to fourth place with his much smaller boat, but he was still showing great performance. Meantime George Stricker was back in Cape Town for a second time. This time he returned after a diesel fuel began leaking inside his boat. Davie, who was still working on his boat, was supposed to start on Saturday, a week behind the fleet.

Moredl8.jpg (25391 bytes)
Photo Richard Konkolski

Positions:

Class 1

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Autissier

PRB

47 59S

048 19E

5465

13.9

0

2140

2

Soldini

Fila

46 29S

048 31E

5497

13.5

32

2140

3

Golding

Team group 4

47 39S

046 59E

5522

13.8

57.1

2140

4

Thiercelin

Somewhere

46 06S

047 00E

5563

13.4

98.4

2140

5

Hall

Gartmore

45 57S

042 50E

5720

11.2

254.8

2140

6

Konioukhov

Mod.Univ.Human.

37 11S

016 18E

6996

3.7

1530.5

2140

Class 2

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Garside

Magellan Alpha

46 59S

040 57E

5762

10.2

0

2144

2

Mouligne

Cray Valley

46 53S

039 33E

5815

11.5

53.8

2144

3

Van Liew

Balance Bar

44 48S

037 16E

5959

7.3

197

2144

4

Yazykov

Wind of Change

44 11S

037 12E

5980

5.8

218.2

2144

5

Petersen

No Barriers

38 59S

028 05E

6493

7.3

731.6

2144

6

Saito

Shuten-dohji II

40 26S

024 49E

6561

4.7

799.8

2144

7

Hunter

Paladin II

38 59S

025 01E

6606

4.2

844.4

2144

8

Stricker

Rapscallion III

33 54S

018 25E

7046

0

1284.7

2144

9

Davie

South Carolina

33 54S

018 25E

7042

0

1280

1818

Copyright Richard Konkolski
Return back to Second Leg
Return back to First Leg