Skip Novak reports from mid-Pacific where he is on board the mighty cat Explorer in an attempt to beat Steve Fossett's existing record

North Pacific crossing record Monday August 10th 1998 Situation on the 8th day of the race.

Explorer Express

0623 GMT. Explorer has the bit between her teeth. Since the last situation yesterday August 9th at the same time, Explorer is tearing along under full mainsail and spinnaker, having logged some 488 miles (904 km) in the day’s run, which is an average of 20.33 knots (38 kmh). The wind is blowing SW at 30 knots. The acrobatics continue. The rather tough weather conditions caused the spinnaker pole (bowsprit at the forward end of the boat) to break during the night. The damage was quickly repaired, but only after the spinnaker was energetically brought down, and an hours sailing under reacher (big balloon jib). Nevertheless the route sailed over the ground remains satisfying, even though Explorer has had to, once again, deviate from the direct route dropping down South to go round a small low to the North whose high winds would not be favourable to boat speed : Bruno Peyron “.we go a lot faster with 25 knots of wind than with 40.”. Co-skipper Skip Novak (author of 4 Whitbreads on monohulls) : “.with this sort of boat, we go faster than the weather systems. So we are no longer at their mercy. It is an exciting game plying with the lows and highs. In this tough work, we are getting good help from Pierre Lasnier. When the wind doesn’t happen at exactly at the time he predicts, we scratch our heads in consternation.”. Just after this morning’s radio session, the whole crew came on deck to change tack and lock onto the direct route, heading 50/60°. Back in the galley, the Japanese Toru is still just as attentive as to what lands in the trampoline nets. This morning for breakfast it was the turn of a school of squid who left black stains on the hulls. Despite his tenacity in trying to catch them, he was only able to get two in his pan. These small molluscs were less dangerous than the whale which blew less than 20 metres from the boat, causing a good fright in retrospect.

Weather : after having gybed, Explorer will from now on be sailing in the disturbed Westerly flow between a low and a high, heading 50/60°.

Latitude Longitude Distance True heading Average Distance/finish Advance EXPLORER 39°07’N 164°57’W 311 miles 133° 16,96 knots 2305 miles 915 miles LAKOTA 50°15’N 167°00’E 266 miles 42° 11,08 knots 2894 miles –