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Down the Stretch to Cartagena
With under 200 miles 4 boats are jostling for the 3 podium spots. Whirlpool still leads, but by under 10 miles. Whirlpool's crew is not at full strength after Luc Bartissol's engine encounter. Luc puts it this way: "I poured a can of penetrating oil over the engine and then, like an idiot, I started the engine. A spark was produced and the whole thing exploded. For a moment I wondered if I was dead or alive with no skin or my face, blinded. I've got first degree burns on my face and second degree burns on my chest. I was lucky I didn't lose my eyesight but I did burn my hair and eyelashes." Whirlpool is the slowest of the leaders at 9.5 knots.
Second is still Sobedo. Yesterday Sobedo's Herve Jan talked some trash on the radio saying, "Catherine is going to have to gybe as she's heading for land If the wind carries on like this we'll be in the lead in a few hours." This prediction did not come true. Sobedo is 3rd fastest of the top 4 at 9.9 knots.
Now in 3rd is Group 4. Group 4's Mike Golding has a clear plan for victory: "We still have good though fickle breeze and intend to stay offshore to try to capitalise. Its perhaps our final chance at the front, to make the most of this we have to sail on an unfavoured gybe and gamble that those inshore have to do the same." At last report Group 4 was to the other three yacht's right with the fastest reported speed at 12 knots.
Dropping by a scant margin to 4th is Sill Enterprises. From Sill Roland Jourdain tells us what he expects: "All of us are going to put on quite a show in the Bay of Cartagena. There's going to be a wonderful regatta in the final stages. The first boat to reach the bay won't necessarily be in the best position. She may get caught up and have to watch the others arrive from out at sea and overtake." Sill had the 2nd highest speed of the top 4 at 10.9 knots and so is keeping her chances alive.
5th is Somehwere 291 miles from the finish. 6th is Aquitaine/Kingfisher 706 miles out, then Gartmore/First Call 891 miles to go.
Class II is led by Pindar by 252 miles over Spirit of the Race.
The weather situation does not aid in figuring a winner. The atmosphere off Columbia is a mishmash. Different winds ranging from SE to NW with potential land induced shore drafts are what the fleet faces. The classic crap shoot to finish off this race. By Friday or Saturday 3 boats will have made enough correct calls to be on the podium, with others already rehashing the crucial call that kept them off the steps.
October in Muskegon
Yesterday saw the test run of Mother Nature's winter wonderland phase in Muskegon. Yes we woke up to snow which had temporarily overwhelmed the grass, changing things from green to white. Winter is not far off.
October was about as expected for our climate. The average high temperature was 59 degrees. The warmest it got was 73º F on Friday the 15th. The coldest high was on Saturday the 23rd at 44º F.
Low temperature for the month was 28º F on the 27th. Warmest recorded high temperature was 57º F on Saturday of the month's final and warm weekend.
All in all October presented a month of near normal temperature. For the month the temperature was 1.08 degrees below norm.
On the water the average wind speed was 9.8 knots as compared to 7.9 in September. Windiest day was the 23rd with an average of 18.2. The 11th had the low average wind speed at 2.3 knots. Peak gust for the moth was 38 knots on Monday the 25th.
One way in which October's weather was unusual was precipitation. A total of .82 inches fell with a quarter of that on Saturday the 16th. This is off quite a bit from a norm of 2.8 inches. This maybe one reason the water level has continued to fall, the lakes are not being refilled.
Finally, although November has seen the first snow melt away, as recently as 1995 Muskegon received nearly 26 inches of snow.
(C)update: Ready for Round 2
Tomorrow evening US time, will see the start of Round Robin 2 of the America's Cup trials. The time off has been used productively by the teams.
Team Dennis Conner has added to its afterguard. Long time America's Cup sailor Tom Whidden will joining Stars and Stripes and work in the back of the boat.
Several teams have had their boats in the shed undergoing adjustments. Abracadabra 2000, America One and America True hope they have made improvements.
The French boat has undergone major changes. A different keel and transom leads the French team to hope they will be faster.
Fast 2000 has been on the water every day. They are working on dialing in their twin keeled Be Happy.
Two of the 1st round robin's top performers have been two boat testing. This has given Young America and Prada significant time to work on developing and optimizing what already appear to be fast boats.
It has also been learned that the final new boat of this Cup will arrive in December. This will be USA 61 for America One. This arrival date coincides with the beginning of the 3rd round of racing. Looks like America One thinks they can go through to the semifinals with USA 49 and then use 61 in the semifinals and hopefully for them beyond.
Perhaps the most interesting development is the possibility of a boat swap for the Young Australia team. Currently AUS-31 is under charter by America One. However, with their 2nd boat on the way they will be giving up this charter. Therefore a plan is being considered to let the Young Australia team sail this boat. In 1995 it was the only boat to beat New Zealand's Black Magic. Certainly this would give the Australians a better boat, and the fleet better overall competition. Before this can occur an arbitration panel must decide the legality of this maneuver.
Looking ahead to Day 1 of round 2 several matches will be of interest. In the morning flight we will see if America True's modifications have succeeded as they race Young America. Fast 2000 will get an immediate chance to measure progress matching up with Prada. In the afternoon flight America True will get another chance at empirically testing their adjustments vs. America One. There is no question these races are more important, a win is good for 4 points as opposed the single marker value of round 1 races.