Doha 2006 has picked up its first piece of silverware in the Oryx Quest 2005 by winning the Amundsen Trophy for the first boat to cross 163° West longitude

The international crew on Doha 2006 have picked up their first piece of silverware in the Oryx Quest 2005 by winning the Amundsen Trophy for the first boat to cross 163° West longitude. The line of longitude has important significance to Amundsen Oslo, the Norway-based company that was founded in 2002 by Jørgen Amundsen, a relative of the legendary polar explorer, Roald Amundsen. 163° West longitude was the route taken by Amundsen on his trip to the South Pole in 1911.

There was other good news aboard the Qatari catamaran. At the 07:00 GMT poll on Tuesday Doha 2006 had further extended their lead over Cheyenne to over 1,000 miles, 1002 nautical miles to be precise, and was recording instant speeds well in excess of those being recorded on Cheyenne. At the 07:00 GMT poll Doha 2006 was traveling at 26.2 knots against 14.3 knots on Cheyenne as both boats enjoyed perfect sailing in the deep south.

Skipper Brian Thompson was reveling in the good news. “Today we notched up our second 600-mile day,” he wrote in his daily log. “That’s over 25 knots average for 24 hours, and we have had a 25 knot wind from the northwest allowing us to track due eastward. At the moment we are starting to get more westerly winds which will force us to gybe downwind over the next day or so. This will reduce our speed made good to Cape Horn, but will allow us to change our latitude easily and move from north to south over the course to position ourselves for the next wind direction. Behind us Cheyenne has now escaped the low and also reached the north-west winds. She is charging eastwards and over the next few days Cheyenne is going to be taking some miles back as she sails a more direct course.”

Aboard Cheyenne navigator Wouter Verbraak was also enjoying the sailing. “Some days are just perfect,” he wrote in his log. “Today was such a day. Steady 23 to 26 knots of boat speed and at least seven albatrosses doing their stunts around the boat. The sun even came out for a while, and although it didn’t provide much warmth, at least it brought a smile to the crews faces. Looking ahead for the next 24 hours, we will be close to the center of a large and rather strong low which is moving south-east. This will give us some good winds for the next few days to propel us towards the Horn. No record breaking stuff in sight yet, but for sure some good daily averages. Our route is relatively far north, which reduces the chance of running into ice bergs. Something nobody regrets.”

Eating up the miles and picking up some silverware is all well and good, but all the competitors know that there is still a long way to sail before they reach safe harbour. One of the toughest stretches of the race lies ahead; the remote south Pacific, an undulating stretch of water that ends at Cape Horn, currently 2,616 miles ahead of Doha 2006’s razor sharp bows.