Day 27, Thursday December 31, 1998

ZapadMrak.jpg (17120 bytes)
Photo Richard Konkolski

It was morning and Soldini was getting closer and closer to Cape Reinga at the top of New Zealand. Once there, Soldini would have to sail east to round North Cape and then south for the finish line off of Auckland, about 200 miles away.

BBGoldingFace2.jpg (15635 bytes) Mike Golding Photo Billy Black
Golding followed Soldini, about 180 miles back. The sailing conditions were getting light and more demanding as Golding described it in his message: "I overslept last night, the penalty for a quiet night sailing. When I woke the boat was upright and sailing slowly to windward. Still full of sleep I rushed around getting more sail up, eventually hoisting the upwind Genniker which got me back up to 10 knots. A light breeze has just kept me moving for the past 24 hours. I've been struggling to make as many miles as possible whilst staying away from the low-pressure trough from which I have escaped and which is now slowing Isabelle and Marc."

Isabelle was still holding fourth place, but she was now only 9 miles behind Thiercelin. She reported: "I am still making 3 knots, but the wind has now shifted, and I'm sailing 40 degrees off course, so my speed made good is only 1.7 knots. I am sailing with the big gennaker, because I only brought the small spinnaker, and it's too heavy for this wind. This is going to continue tomorrow: steer, trim the sails, steer, trim, try to jibe, go back the other way... and then start all over again!"

MSMouligne1.jpg (12376 bytes) J.P.Mouligne Photo Marek Slodownik

The biggest surprise was Jean-Pierre Mouligne, who was catching up with the much bigger Class 1 leading boats. "It has been a very slow day," JP wrote, "The wind kept on getting lighter and lighter, and Cray Valley has been creeping along at 3 to 5 knots since this morning. The good news is that I seem to be going faster than the Class I boats in the very light air. At the last position report I was only 25 miles behind Somewhere and 5 miles behind PRB. I kept on looking over the horizon and just an hour ago I spotted Isabelle about 8 miles to windward! That was quite a morale booster I must admit, and I am working like crazy to get every bit of speed out of Cray Valley. The cockpit is cross-crossed with tweaking lines, which I adjust constantly, and I even put my toothbrush to windward!"

Michael Garside dropped another 40 miles behind Mouligne, to full 500 miles back. He reported: "I have been on tenterhooks for the last two days. Just as Magellan Alpha and I were approaching the southwestern corner of Tasmania, the pilot that had guided us so miserably through the Southern Ocean from Kerguelan died. In its death rattle it shook us through a half dozen wildly swinging arcs before I was able to pounce on the helm and rescue Alphie before he gybed. More out of hope than anything else I switched over to the other pilot, which had performed so well over the first 10 days before, itself, giving up the ghost. To my total surprise it took complete control and drove a neat, straight course. Hardly daring to hope it would last, I started to dig out my third course computer and started installing it. But it hasn't been necessary. Two days later I am still able to hold a good course, despite the fact I paid a hefty penalty in lost miles by sailing too close to Tasmania."

The lone warrior, Robin Davie, some 4750 miles back behind Mouligne, was fighting for every mile: "The headwinds and calms have continued. There is no rest for the wicked so they say - and last night was no exception, the winds fell light, the calm set in, the boat rolled to the swells like a pig, and this morning the wind returned from the southeast… By mid-afternoon Ile de Possession was just off the starboard bow, and I passed the Island as the sunset this evening, with some very strong gusty winds and SC laid on her side… Tonight's weather forecast is hopeless. The barometer's rising rapidly, the weather forecasters suggest the next high will be on top of me followed by lows to the north, and nothing but east to southeast winds for the next 3 or 4 days."

VlnaParmelia2.jpg (27467 bytes)
Photo Richard Konkolski

Positions:

Class 1

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Soldini

Fila

35 13S

174 34E

94

8.3

0

2140

2

Golding

Team Group 4

35 19S

171 00E

273

5.8

178.8

2240

3

Thierceli

Somewhere

37 16S

167 03E

497

9.2

403.2

2140

4

Autissier

PRB

37 08S

166 44E

506

9.9

412.5

2140

5

Hall

Gartmore

39 41S

157 21E

972

5.5

878

2140

6

Konioukhov

Mod.Univ.Human.

46 03S

080 52E

4251

5

4156.9

2140

Class 2

Place

Skipper

Boat

Latitude

Longitude

Dist. to go

Speed

Dist. to first

Time

1

Mouligne

Cray Valley

37 22S

166 37E

517

7.7

0

2144

2

Garside

Magellan Alpha

39 25S

156 13E

1018

4.1

500.3

2144

3

Van Liew

Balance Bar

42 53S

149 49E

1354

8.9

836.9

2144

4

Yazykov

Wind of Change

45 04S

145 15E

1582

11

1064.4

2144

5

Saito

Shuten-dohji II

45 36S

105 37E

3236

7.3

2718.7

2144

6

Petersen

No Barriers

45 59S

101 28E

3404

8

2886.3

2144

7

Hunter

Paladin II

44 40S

095 46E

3653

6.3

3135.8

2144

8

Davie

South Carolina

47 18S

054 01E

5272

7.7

4754.6

2144

9

Stricker

Rapscallion III

Retired

0

0

0

0

0

Copyright Richard Konkolski
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