From on board Team Group 4, second placed Mike Golding considers his options
Daily report 6.10.98
Saw Gartmore Investments yesterday, Josh was sailing low and to my surprise appeared off my stern. Josh and I spoke on the radio, our main concern is tropical storm “Lisa” and where is she going to go. Special reports from Commanders Weather, who do forecasts for the fleet, indicate that Lisa could be quite nasty and was best avoided by heading SW to avoid the headwinds. I sat for hours drawing sketches with times speeds and courses, trying to work out my best course of action.
The front four boats are all at most immediate risk. I had yesterday moved back into second place behind “Somewhere” and of the four am the most north and east. This placed me in the “Dangerous Quadrant” and the normal option would be to sail SW to skirt under the storm where winds are of favourable direction and less severe. On my plots I concluded that I was too far North and east to be able to do this without risking sailing directly into its path. So I’ve stayed on the breeze and am going “over the top”. Driving through the dangerous sector would normally be considered like walking blindfold on the M4, but provided the storm follows it’s predicted NW track I will never be closer that 200nms and will for the most part be over 600nms away from the storm centre.
This morning I am down to third though Josh who choose the sail south strategy was even further back, I hope he’s OK as it looked to me although that route was certain contact with the storm.
In reality this is not just tactics, it’s the avoidance of damage that drives each of the skippers to make choices. With my recent damage record I want to avoid contact with this storm at all costs and am prepared to lose miles to do just that.
In the short term the boats who do manage to get south of the storm will make some incredible miles sailing downwind in strong conditions. But for the past week we have all been driving our yachts east rather than SE directly towards Cape Town to avoid one major obstacle. The NE point of South America is called Recife and getting around that corner without the wind and current driving you into the shore and forcing you to make hugely unfavourable tacks out again has been the focus of all our attentions. Lisa has thrown a spanner in the works and its anyone’s guess who will come through.