In an attempt to avoid headwinds and big seas, Tony Bullimore has taken the advice of weather routers and altered course for the promise of more favourable conditions

TEAM LEGATO has covered just 106 miles during the past 24 hours as the crew take the calculated gamble of sailing on an east-nor’easterly course towards the promise of better winds instead of heading southeast into strong headwinds.

Robbie Burns, a member of the St James’s Yachting team coordinating the weather routing for TEAM LEGATO explains:

“Our plan is to stay on an ENE course that will take the boat around the top of a low just ahead of them. The alternative was to continue SE in favourable winds that will rapidly back in 18 hours time to 45 knot headwinds and big seas. Although they have slowed down on this new course they will at least make it to fresher winds around a big high to the east tomorrow. With just six crew on board it’s not the best plan to stuff them into gale force headwinds and damage them or the boat. It’s pretty exposed down there and I have an upper wind limit I am trying to keep them out of – hence the change in plan. The plan has to remain fluid as the weather systems don’t conform exactly to the long range forecasts”.

Bullimore might have expected the gap between themselves and Warta Polpharma to widen to 400 miles, but the Poles are currently battling with a 50 knot storm that has slowed their progress considerably and caused some sail damage. Crewman Jarek Kaczorowski told race organisers yesterday “Everything is sodden. Our sleeping bags are as damp inside as outside and you have to be extremely tired to sleep in them. It’s impossible to dry them because it is constantly raining and mountains of salt water wash over the decks. The waves are 8 to 10 metres tall at the moment! To makes things worse, a 50-60 knot wind is on the way from the south-west. We are about 5 days from Cape Horn. We hope that this will be the last strong gale in the Pacific. We’re exhausted!”

As a result, Warta Polpharma has gained only 200 miles from TEAM LEGATO over the past 2 days, and with their Raytheon speedo now recording double digits once more, Bullimore an his crew remain optimistic that this light weather gamble will eventually pay better dividends. “With the weather systems constantly changing down here, you have to be guided by what is likely to happen not later today, but in 3-4 days time. That’s why we rely on the advice of our weather routers,” Tony explained by satellite phone. “We don’t want to finish up on the wrong side of a low pressure system.”