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Whitbread Log: Leg 2, Cape Town to Fremantle
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Day 3 - Nov. 10, 1997

Report #4

17:30 GMT - 38° 06'S, 023° 50'E

Miles to Fremantle: 4,341

Place: 8th; distance behind 1st-place boat: 160 miles

From: Paul Cayard, skipper EF Language

We are having a bit of a disastrous day. We have traveled 9 miles in the last 7 hours while our competitors have gone between 25-45 miles. They are simply sailing around us to the west.

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We are trying to get over to the southwest, but are only going 1 knot, drifting without wind.

We will lose all but the women by the 000 sked. Obviously, we don't know when we will get going again.

Report #3

17:30 GMT - 37° 56'S, 023° 20'E

Miles to Fremantle: 4,367

Place: 2nd; distance behind 1st-place boat: 100 miles

From: Paul Cayard, skipper EF Language

No more jokes. This is not funny anymore. We are completely becalmed here, 300 miles SE of Cape of Good Hope. That is about all we can do — hope.

Hope that the wind comes soon, even though the weather maps and forecasts look like we could be stuck here for a couple of days. Hope that when the wind does fill, it doesn't come from the south or west . . . now, that is a big hope; that is even a dream.

Somehow, despite the fact that we consciously tried to invest in the south yesterday, we now find ourselves the most easterly and northerly boat. Not a good combination. I think that we got a cell, or "nose," of the high-pressure ridge first last night and somehow there was a gap to the west of us that allowed the fleet to carry along a bit longer while we slowed.

Now, we are drifting completely as a ridge of high pressure has ridged over us, and we can only hope the others are drifting, too. Most likely the wind will fill from the southwest when a low or front can finally break through this ridge.

On board it is frustrating as we try to grab every little puff that comes along. Each usually requires a tack and shifting everything to heel the boat. It will be dark soon, so even harder to see those little puffs. The sky is very overcast . . . I have never seen so much cloud around and no wind.

The whales were jumping alongside a few hours ago and a shark followed us about 4 meters behind the boat for a half-hour. It is not smelling real good on board as 12 guys' systems try to get used tot he reconstituted food again — kind of like a natural gas station — but sometimes sounding like a strange and distorted symphony warming up.

Still, we plug along, always trying to do everything to win. Wishing you a good week at work, too.

Report #2

15:24 GMT

From: Mark Rudiger, skipper EF Language

As Paul mentioned, the brochure wasn't written for this race so far. The winds have gotten worse than the worst-case scenario predicted. Originally it looked like we may have had just enough wind to sneak away from the coast to hold some southwesterly from a slow-moving depression to the south. But a light-air drifting match right off the start, combined with a larger high pressure further south, has left us all drifting slowly.

We made an initial gain right off the bat behind Swedish Match and again the rich should have gotten richer. But instead the fleet is compressing from behind and, in fact, their wind is allowing them to get south of us, which we're very concerned about. Our lead is fading fast and now a matter of which way the wind fills in.

Our weather Guru Roger "Clouds" Badham is surely wondering what the heck we're doing to the north of the fleet. We were partially forced this way from a local cloud cell the others didn't get and partially I figured the high was dropping so far south that maybe some easting would allow us to sail in "some" breeze a little longer and work back down to cover. Actually, the boats between us and the southern boats have done the best so it seems some luck in where the wind vanes are is involved.

The next couple of skeds are bound to be a little dicey, but some of the skeds I've worried about in the past have been our best. Meanwhile, we're not going anywhere very fast and that's always reason for concern!

Report #1

08:40 GMT - 38° 54'S, 024° 22'E

Miles to Fremantle: 4,383

Place: 2nd; distance behind 1st-place boat: 86 miles

From: Paul Cayard, skipper EF Language

This is not the way this leg is supposed to be. In the brochure describing this part of the cruise it says, "wet, cold and windy." Here it is dry, warm and calm. Three out of three, wrong.

So, we are all drifting around out here without rhyme or reason while Swedish Match sails off with a little bit of southwesterly due to their lead to the southeast. They did a nice job of getting out of Cape Town . . . a little risky as they went off on their own, 3-4 miles away from the course. But it sure is paying well now. I don't regret staying with all the others, as Swedish Match finished 8th on the last leg.

A high pressure has ridged in around the southern tip of Africa and run right over the rest of us. The worrisome thing is that this could stay like this for a couple of days.

We are in second place, actually leading the fleet that stayed together out of Cape Town. But our position is tenuous at best as the wind cells seem to come from the east, then the south without any predictability. Last night as we got into light air, our competitors compressed into us, and all to the west of us. The most west being Chessie and Merit, which bear 260 M from us at 45 miles. We are trying to use the easterlies that we have now to gain bearing on them and get them back toward the northwest.

Hard to say when or exactly how we will get out of this, but probably some wind from the southwest will eventually fill. So, we have to get over to the southeast of those guys again before it comes.

Life on board is not bad except that we all realize this will not be a fast leg. Probably 18-20 days rather than the potential 14-16. A few guys have the flu, so the slow pace is actually good for us, giving them a chance to get better before the big breeze and the physical demands associated.

In this light air, we spend a lot of time shifting the gear inside the boat, as well as the sails on deck, and from on deck to below deck. There is always a better angle of heel for the boat, so there is always something to be lugged from one side to the other.

I can see the grib file (weather routing forecast), which is being received by this same computer in the background. I'll let you know the prognosis.

Paul Cayard
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