Pirates of the Caribbean leads fleet on approach to first Ice Gate 24/2/06

As Brasil 1 (Torben Grael) scorches downwind in the north-westerly breeze, running hard across the top of the high pressure ridge, with ABN AMRO Two (Sebastien Josse) in her wake – both at the rear of the fleet – the other teams are hurrying towards the scoring gate, but having to sail upwind.

At around midnight last night gale force winds were forecast for the vicinity of the scoring gate. Pirates of the Caribbean (Paul Cayard) currently holds a two-mile lead over ABN AMRO One as they approach the first ice gate in a freeing wind. However, the waves left over from the tropical depression are large and the seaway is bigger than the breeze that is blowing, causing constant slamming. It is also foggy, drizzling and murky.

All the crews are preparing for a wet and rough ride ahead. “A few of the boys have dug out their drysuits ready for a wet ride. The general consensus onboard is that having had a pretty dry trip so far, the second half of the Southern Ocean is going to more than make up for the lack of water over the deck so far,” says Simon Fisher navigator aboard ABN AMRO Two.