Brian Thompson - skipper aboard Doha 2006 - sent this report from the front of the Oryx Quest fleet

Brian Thompson – skipper aboard the Gilles Ollier-designed catamaran Doha 2006 currently competing in the Oryx Quest 2005 – sent this report from the front of the fleet:

“Snakes and ladders, swings and roundabouts as Geronimo appears to be gaining hour by hour on our lead. She could be ahead by now, we just won’t know for six hours. There is a bizarre six-hour delay on the position reports that makes it hard to know how you are doing, and combined with the fact that Geronimo is not reporting course and speed (for a technical problem…). It is a little frustrating to be giving our information away without getting the same in return.

“Moan of the day out of the way, back to the racing. Another very interesting night as we travelled around the eastern side of a small low-pressure system that was on the transition zone between the westerly and easterly winds. We kept moving throughout, putting in several gybes as we went south. The seas were getting increasingly lumpy as we got to the transition and the wind incredibly shifty. It was more like being inside a cement mixer this morning getting tossed around by the seas. We had to reduce sail to two reefs to get through without any damage. We had a few fast manouevres to do as the wind shifted 130 degrees in seconds and gusts came through from all around, but after a week of practice the team are moving into their positions and getting on with their own jobs and making rapid sail changes.

“Now we are in the south-east tradewinds on the other side of this transition zone (our second doldrums) and it should be speed sailing, rather than tactical down towards the high pressure guarding the gates of the Southern Ocean. Conditions are going to be tough for the next three days as we close reach in 20-30 knots of wind and 3-4m seas. Once again we will be managing our speed to keep the boat in one piece. It would be all too easy to leap off one wave too many.

“Meanwhile we will be watching with interest to see if Geronimo’s move to the west of the low pressure worked out better than our east option. We will just have to wait another six hours to find out.

Brian –”