Day 18, Tuesday April 27, 1999

Zapad4.jpg (22731 bytes)
Photo Richard Konkolski

After a disastrous Leg 1, finishing three days behind the leaders, the 32-year-old Giovanni Soldini won Leg 2 and then Leg 3, even after rescuing Isabelle Autissier. Now he was leading the way to the finish line in Leg 4. Prior to the Doldrums his only rival in Class I, Marc Thiercelin, was within 90 miles of him but now Giovanni was 435 miles ahead of him.

BBSoldini copy.jpg (17867 bytes) Giovanni Soldini Photo Billy Black

Soldini attributed his successes to the new way of satellite communication, allowing him access to various information sources on the Internet. He knew that meteorology is not like mathematics. Nobody could ever be sure about any calculation and prediction. Therefore weather information cannot be relied on from a single source. He was able to see four different predictions, none of which agreed. Three out of four predictions showed favorable conditions more to the west. So, he went two degrees further west than Thiercelin and that made a big difference. He had one day of low wind, slowing him to about four knots, but then he took off.

Soldini had only one problem. His spinnaker went in the water and was ripped by pressure. But he blamed himself for this mistake, for not hoisting the spinnaker all the way to the top of the mast.

Soldini was hoping to break the record of the last race winner, Christoph Augin, who made it from Punta del Este to Charleston in 24 days, 20 hours, 17 minutes and 29 seconds. But it now looked out of reach. This leg was very slow in the start and Soldini arrived in the Doldrums two days later than Christoph four years ago.

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Michael Garside Photo Billy Black

Class II leader Michael Garside was able to pickup more favorable wind and extended his lead on Mouligne. He finally reached the Northern Hemisphere and reported: "I am, therefore, pleased to report that in the last 12 hours I have taken 27 miles from J-P and have every intention of continuing with this course of action all the way to the Charleston finish line."

Mouligne, now 87 miles back, was fighting for his come back in the middle of the doldrums: "The last 24 hours have been maddening: almost no wind and no progress. I just do not seem to make any gain toward the north. The sails are slapping back and forth and the autopilot cannot steer because there is just not enough pressure on the sails. The wind alarm and off-course alarm is buzzing constantly and I am going nowhere. In the meantime, my mainsail repair is slowly getting destroyed, which is making me crazy. My main fear, of course, is that 60 miles north of me, Magellan has enough wind to take off and that I stay stuck here forever.." Mouligne could endure the same conditions at least another 36 to 48 hours.

Saito was able to overtake Petersen. For now they were sailing within sight of each other. Minoru Saito, Neal Petersen and Neal Hunter were still in pleasant southeast trade winds. They could reach the Doldrums within two days and then the conditions would change for much worse.

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Photo Richard Konkolski

Positions:

Class 1

Place Skipper Boat Latitude Longitude Dist. to go Speed Dist. to first Time
1 Soldini Fila 09 55N 049 54W 2143 12.8 0 2140
2 Thiercelin Somewhere 04 20N 045 11W 2578 10.2 435.3 2140

Class 2

Place Skipper Boat Latitude Longitude Dist. to go Speed Dist. to first Time
1 Garside Magellan Alpha 00 27N 041 47W 2887 6.8 0 2144
2 Mouligne Cray Valley 00 17S 040 29W 2974 6.6 86.7 2144
3 Yazykov Wind of Change 01 20S 037 31W 3144 6.1 257 2144
4 Petersen No Barriers 10 23S 034 32W 3798 4.5 910.6 2144
5 Saito Shuten-dohji II 10 23S 034 32W 3798 4.5 911.1 2144
6 Hunter Paladin II 12 33S 034 42W 3924 4.2 1036.5 2144
7 Van Liew Balance Bar 21 59S 039 03W 4541 2.7 1653.6 2144

Copyright Richard Konkolski
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