Mike Golding’s Open 60 Ecover is waiting for the sleighride to begin as downwind conditions are forecast to kick in later today
Despite the boat’s downwind orientation and the predominantly upwind conditions experienced thus far in the third leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge, Ecover’s third position – 98 miles behind Kingfisher and 39 miles behind Sill – looks set to improve over the next 24 hours as 20-30 knots of northerly breeze sweeps the leaders south.
The southwesterly headwinds predominating at the moment will veer into the north today and into the lap of Golding’s downwind Finot flyer. In theory, Ecover should beat the two leading boats handsomely for pace downwind but that same theory suggests Golding has no right to be within 100 miles of the leader after ten days of upwind sailing.
Figures polled at 1044 today show Kingfisher maintaining the best speed – 9.5 knots – in the headwinds prevailing at the time. Sill was making just 7.3 knots sailing a slightly freer course, confirming that her damage has severely reduced Sill’s capacity for competition.
Gartmore, made from the same mould as Ecover but without the swing keel and deck spreaders, is still 420 miles off the lead but sailing at 7.4 knots direct for the mouth of the Chesapeake.
The girls of AlphaGraphics are still revelling in tradewind conditions but have been forced to sail south of west to avoid the calms of the Azores High Pressure system. They are making excellent progress however and overnight have wiped 100 miles off Kingfisher’s lead over them.
The leaders are still forecasting a Tuesday arrival in Baltimore but the question is who will get there first?