Day 07, Friday December 11, 1998

The high moved further SE causing stronger wind, 45 to 55 knots with even stronger possible gusts, in the more southern latitudes. This condition favored the leaders who were speeding forward with Isabelle in the lead position, followed by Soldini, Golding and Thiercelin. Josh Hall dropped back over 300 miles behind Autissier. But while the frontrunners were making great mileage, the second half of the fleet was hardly breaking free of a large high-pressure system with light winds.

VlnaParmeliaHandl.jpg (24118 bytes)
Photo Richard Konkolski

The strong wind situation in the lower latitudes was causing a big threat to the leaders and after some consideration the five top sailors cut a deal. They agreed to go north to avoid a gale. The negotiations began between Soldini and Autissier who were aware of the extended weather forecast. Both agreed that sailing south of the Kerguelens would cause an unnecessary risk to them. Soldini, who was farthest north of the group, suggested position 45 S / 70 E. Such a waypoint would keep the boats clear of the center of the gale and also would keep them out of dangerous shoal area that surrounds the islands and causes the buildup of big waves with deadly breakers.

FolSoldiniTvar.jpg (16611 bytes)FolIsabelleTvar.jpg (17753 bytes) Soldini & Autissier
Later Golding, Hall and Thiercelin were contacted and all of them agreed with the proposal. After additional thought, Soldini suggested to change the waypoint to 46 S / 70 E. He didn't feel comfortable with the fact that he would benefit most from the deal, being northmost of them all. Autissier was in the worst spot. She was already at the altitude of Kuergulen Island and she would have to sail back north. By doing this she may have lost about 100 miles. The changes would add another 100 miles to their routes, but it could prevent an incident.

Moredl7.jpg (15393 bytes)
Photo Richard Konkolski

A similar deal was cut during the first solo around the world race, The BOC Challenge 1982/83. However the reason was not weather or big sea, because boats at that time were much more seaworthy and could more easily take knockdowns. Also, they were not as fast as the new breed of "skimming dishes". The reason for setting a voluntary waypoint that time ware dangerous, almost invisible, growlers which could smash your boat into pieces. Unfortunately Neville Gosson breached the competitors gentleman's agreement and then everybody went his own way.

[There is another reason for the fleet keeping north of Kerguelen Islands of which nobody speaks now. It is earth magnetism. I had my first hand experience during the first and second BOC Challenge. There are a lot of magnetic anomalies around Kerguelen Islands plus the area has the weakest magnetic field for the whole racetrack. The area is closest to the magnetic pole. As you may know, a magnetic compass would point down to the center of the earth at the location of magnetic pole. That's why the normal compass is useless for polar expeditions. In our case the weak magnetic field greatly influences boat compasses, which are the main source of course information for autopilots. The movement of the compass rose in this area is very sluggish causing delays in input to the autopilot that could be deadly during the boat's high speed flying in rough seas.]

FolMagelanAlphaAir3.jpg (18811 bytes) Garside's Magellan Alpha
The Second Class boats were lead by Garside, who was about 350 miles behind Autissier. About 60 miles back in second place was Mouligne with much lighter conditions as he described: "The last 3 days have been somewhat easy, 20 to 30 knots of westerly winds and moderate seas. The swells are big, however, and you get the sense of how big the waves will get as soon as it starts blowing. I am firmly in second place but not making much progress in cutting Magellan's early lead. Our speeds are virtually the same in these conditions and I have to be patient. We have a long way to go and 50 miles is not a big lead, but I would rather be in front!.."

Mored11.jpg (21210 bytes)
Photo Richard Konkolski

Positions:

Class 1

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Autissier

PRB

49 41S

055 48E

5153

12.5

0

2140

2

Soldini

Fila

48 33S

055 39E

5183

12.1

30

2140

3

Golding

Team Group 4

48 25S

054 14E

5238

14.2

84.8

2140

4

Thiercelin

Somewhere

47 59S

054 12E

5249

13.4

96.3

2140

5

Hall

Gartmore

48 31S

048 05E

5461

11.1

308.3

2140

6

Konioukhov

Mod.Univ.Human.

38 09S

016 48E

6940

3.6

1787.7

2140

Class 2

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Garside

Magellan Alpha

49 08S

046 41E

5500

9.8

0

2144

2

Mouligne

Cray Valley

48 01S

045 44E

5560

9.8

59.9

2144

3

Van Liew

Balance Bar

46 57S

040 49E

5792

6.3

292

2144

4

Yazykov

Wind of Change

45 50S

039 58E

5829

7.2

329.3

2144

5

Petersen

No Barriers

41 39S

029 04E

6362

6.4

862.3

2144

6

Saito

Shuten-dohji II

42 09S

026 46E

6430

6.6

930.5

2144

7

Hunter

Paladin II

40 45S

026 09E

6501

5.1

1001.5

2144

8

Stricker

Rapscallion III

35 54S

018 25E

7046

0

1546.4

2144

9

Davie

South Carolina

33 54S

018 25E

7042

0

1542

1818

Copyright Richard Konkolski
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