Day 26, Wednesday December 30, 1998

Soldini had only 243 miles to go with Golding almost 200 miles behind him. Giovanni was happy with his position: "I am very excited. However things turn out, I'll be very satisfied with one thing: being able to celebrate the New Year twice - once here and once with the many friends who are following my progress from Italy. But I do want to be on land for my Australian New Year celebrations. My little girl Martina, my wife Elena, and, I'm told, a lot of other people are all waiting for me there. I'm not going to make any predictions. I don't even want to talk about winning: races are won only when you cross the finishing line. But I have to admit that I am extremely happy. Fila is sailing beautifully. If I finish at this rate, I'll have closed some of the gap in the general classification, but most of all I think that I will have proved that my tactics were not so crazy after all... But let's not get into all that. Winning in New Zealand would be just incredible. It really doesn't make any difference whether it's in 1998 or 1999!"

FolTeamGroupDeckDraw.jpg (14990 bytes) Golding's Team Group 4
After a week, second placed Golding broke his silence: "I haven’t spared a moment for report writing over the past week. It’s been hectic and at times scary. I had extended away from Somewhere by over a hundred miles…. I just managed to stay ahead of the system and it turned to the south just 150 miles astern. Still it blew like hell for the best part of three days! On the whole we survived unscathed, even Marc, who must have been very close to the center, seems to have come through OK. I still have many problems: no proper GPS, the headsail furling jambs, two winches are out of commission, the water maker is playing up, the instruments at the mast head have worked loose rendering the information useless, solar panels ripped from the deck by waves, an electrical short somewhere in the boat is corroding all the chainplates and the mast rotation base (one problem of carbon hulled boats is that they conduct electricity better than steel), staysail halyard jambs and I’ve run out of kitchen roll! I have also twisted my knee."

FolGoldingFace.jpg (14599 bytes) Michael Golding

"Still, it could be worse. I am at present clinging on to what was, until the past 48 hours, a very healthy lead over Somewhere and PRB, who has caught up again whilst Marc and I were battling bad weather, and is now just 30 nautical miles behind Somewhere. Having extended away from Marc by over 230 miles and at the same time catching Gio by 100 miles I am now watching all that slip away as a high pressure system with trough has stuck itself firmly across my path. This is without question the most frustrating part of yacht racing. Light weather kills me."

FolIsabelleUStezneBig.jpg (29532 bytes) Isabelle Autissier
Isabelle Autissier, in third place, sent a message: "Very light airs with extremely variable wind, so lots of time at the helm - but in sunshine, which is pretty pleasant. I've even brought the suntan lotion out. But it's hard to make much headway in this high-pressure system, which should last until tomorrow and maybe longer. Giovanni or the others should be out of it soon. In fluky winds like this, sailing is a bit of a lottery. If one boat gets 4 knots of wind and the other 7, it spells a big difference in speed, and it's hard to predict those little changes in relative position. I am slowly catching up with Somewhere, but I'm not giving myself any false hopes; we'll see. Given the light airs, I think I'll probably reach Auckland on January 3. In any case, the end of this leg will be hard-fought."

MSMouligne.jpg (28738 bytes) J.P. Mouligne Photo Marek Slodownik

Second Class leader, Jean-Pierre Mouligne, had almost 700 miles to go. He was already approaching the high pressure system area: "The last 24 hours have been very smooth sailing. No wild surfing anymore, but a nice steady northwest breeze which keeps Cray Valley moving at 10 knots. I am scared of running out of wind at any time and start losing my lead, but so far it has not been the case."

MSGarside3.jpg (16855 bytes) Michael Garside Photo Marek Slodownik
Second placed Garside was almost 460 miles back and Balance Bar in third 854 miles behind Mouligne's stern. At the time when the leaders were getting lighter and lighter wind, the rear part of fleet, some 2500 mile back, was still experiencing tough roaring forties conditions. Neil Hunter reported: "Gale force winds seem to be the norm down here. At least I have had a bit of variety when a front went through last night with a 180-degree wind shift from NW to SE. So I gybed and am now on a starboard tack. And the barometer is still dropping and it is still raining. The albatross seem to love the weather though. Gliding effortlessly into 35 knots like big glide bombers, especially when they land and drop their feet and skid to a halt in the water."

Robin Davie, in the far last place, emailed: "Some nice miles over the last 24 hours, but sure not the steady westerlies that have been the feature of my previous two races down south here… The north northeasterlies continued overnight, cold, with heavy overcast and rain, I stayed up till dawn expecting the front and windshift to come through, but no sign of it… South Carolina is heading eastwards to skirt south of the Crozet Islands. It's pretty crisp and cool out there on deck, more like a New England winter's evening, the half moon fills the night with light. It's always nice to have the moon up and beaming, so the full moon next week is looked forward to."

VlnaSlunceKonstrukce.jpg (14052 bytes)
Photo Richard Konkolski

Positions:

Class 1

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Soldini

Fila

35 26S

172 01E

243

6.9

0

2140

2

Golding

Team Group 4

37 47S

169 07E

439

8.4

196.5

2240

3

Thierceli

Somewhere

38 53S

164 34E

647

4.4

404.5

2140

4

Autissier

PRB

38 23S

163 42E

668

4.1

425.7

2140

5

Hall

Gartmore

41 16S

154 59E

1105

10.3

862.5

2140

6

Konioukhov

Mod.Univ.Human.

45 56S

078 04E

4366

5.7

4123

2140

Class 2

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Mouligne

Cray Valley

38 53S

163 25E

693

6.9

0

2144

2

Garside

Magellan Alpha

40 58S

153 46E

1152

9.8

458.1

2144

3

Van Liew

Balance Bar

44 57S

146 04E

1547

7.7

853.6

2144

4

Yazykov

Wind of Change

45 46S

139 36E

1823

11.1

1129.1

2144

5

Saito

Shuten-dohji II

46 22S

101 59E

3384

3.5

2690.3

2144

6

Petersen

No Barriers

45 19S

097 03E

3592

7.3

2898.3

2144

7

Hunter

Paladin II

43 34S

092 26E

3810

7.1

3116.5

2144

8

Davie

South Carolina

45 39S

052 28E

5372

8.2

4678.6

2144

9

Stricker

Rapscallion III

Retired

0

0

0

0

0

Copyright Richard Konkolski
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