Classic route needs cool heads

Grant Dalton, the skipper of Club Med, has restored his lead on the way to Cape Horn

It's been a bit wild and woolly for the last 24 hours, but we are now back on track, heading south in the Southern Ocean and on our way to Cape Horn. We are on the traditional classic route from New Zealand and down to 51 degrees south. To go round the Cape we have to go to 56.

It's been a bit wild and woolly for the last 24 hours, but we are now back on track, heading south in the Southern Ocean and on our way to Cape Horn. We are on the traditional classic route from New Zealand and down to 51 degrees south. To go round the Cape we have to go to 56.

The Pacific is less violent than the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean in the south is just a nasty place. The 50-knot squalls come through like bombs, but here they do not seem to have quite as much horsepower in them.

Which is good as we have quite enough horsepower in Club Med. We are back to doing our 500 to 550 miles a day. The rhythm of four hours off, four hours on standby and four hours on watch rolls by. We are back with the speed, the noise and the water coming over the deck. We are back to dry suits and cups of tea that fill with cold salt water spray before you can drink them. We are back to the world we know, and we really enjoy it.

I think it was my idea to route The Race through the Cook Straits which separate the North and South Islands of New Zealand. I'm not so sure it was a good one. It was a time of mixed emotions. It was amazing to see everyone, including some of my family, and I admired the way so many boats came out in what was quite difficult weather. Most of all I was really pleased that New Zealand had now seen this amazing boat.

But it cost us a net 170 miles of our lead over Loick Peyron in Innovation Explorer. We were not surprised they did not stop for repairs of new sails. They put on a good, if rather elaborate act, beforehand, I suppose to lure us into thinking we could stop and they would then sail right by. We were never going to fall for that.

Where he did gain is that we were caught for a while in a patch of calm. When you can see a rival gaining 20 miles every hour it is very stressful.

Now we are back up to 680 miles ahead, the boat is fine, the crew is fit and injury-free and we have probably four days of settled weather to take us to the Horn.

I never cease to be amazed at the input of our on-shore weather router, Roger Badham, in Sydney. He is in constant touch with our navigator, Mike Quilter, and I wonder if he ever sleeps as he seems to be sending new thoughts and information every hour.

Once we are round the corner we will need every bit of help we can get. The Atlantic may not be as physically demanding as the Southern Ocean, but it is a tricky section of the race as we go up the equator and then across the entry to the Mediterranean and the finish in Marseilles.

We have been watching what has been happening to the Vendée Globe fleet through the St Helena High, which also trapped some of our rivals going south, the Doldrums and the Azores High.

We have also been amazed at what Ellen MacArthur has achieved. It is fantastic. Even if Michel Desjoyeaux pulls away in these last few days, and achieves what he set out to do and win, he will only have won that battle. Ellen will have won the war.

We want both. I now think we will complete the course in under 65 days, so we should be in Marseilles on about 4 March.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'