THE QUEST TO RACE AROUND THE WORLD A SECOND TIME ON A 40FT MONOHULL

Race Commentary Archive: Transat 2004

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Still No Wind
June 13, 2004

It's been a grim weekend for Joe aboard Wells Fargo - American Pioneer as he sails slowly toward Boston. In the grips a large area of high pressure, the ocean is glassy calm and the boat is sailing slowly. "it's not much fun out here," Joe said in a satellite phone call. "This boat goes great when there is some wind but without even the slightest breeze it's not easy. I am constantly on deck trimming sails and looking for even the smallest puff, but they are few and far between." To add insult to an already tough situation, his arch rival Kip Stone has been enjoying a fun weekend sailing along the coast of Newfoundland at a good clip and has opened up an almost unassailable lead. At the last poll Stone aboard Artforms was 232 miles ahead of Joe on Wells Fargo - American Pioneer.

The weather maps that Joe receives on board come in the form of a "grib" file. It's essentially a data file that can be emailed. Joe then uses his terrific Raymarine software to translate the grib into a weather forecast that displays the weather as a series of vectors. It's clever software and an efficient way of delivering the forecast, but weather is weather. No matter how good the equipment and how well intended the forecast, sometimes the wind gods do not cooperate and the band of northerlies that Joe spotted to the south on Friday did not materialize and the rest, as they say, is history.

"I think the next few days are going to be better than the last couple of days," Joe said. "We have a little wind and it looks like it's going to pick up, but unfortunately from the wrong direction. If we get south-westerlies I will have to sail hard on the wind all the way to Boston pushing my ETA back to around late Thursday. On the other hand if the wind is more south I should be able to sail toward Boston at good speed in which case I might be in early Thursday. We will just have to wait and see what the new week brings."

- Brian Hancock (great.circle@verizon.net)



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