Sill has won today’s battle with Ecover by a single mile, leaving the boats five miles apart as they cover the 200 miles to Baltimore
Despite her jury forestay, torn main and splintered pride, Sill is refusing to roll over as many predicted. Mike Golding’s Ecover began his day four miles behind and ended it five miles behind.
“We are not giving up,” said Sill skipper Gael Le Cleac’h. “The forecast is for very strong winds just before we finish and maybe we will be able to keep up our speed and keep ahead of Ecover.”
Golding concedes that downwind, Sill’s handicap becomes almost irrelevant. “I don’t think that Sill’s forestay problem is much of a handicap. We are sailing downwind with a Code 5 set and guess that they have the same sails up.”
The stiff winds that catapulted Ellen into Baltimore at 20 knots will soon be gathering up these two boats and reliability has so far proved Sill’s Achilles Heel – she had to have one somewhere. Ecover’s skipper Mike Golding is hoping to pick off the weak one as the breeze picks up.
“It’s a very different situation today than it was this time yesterday,” said Golding earlier today. “We are romping along and have been averaging 20 knots all morning. I don’t expect the speed to drop much until we get close to the finish. Our plan is to keep pushing hard because we like to push hard, but we also need to keep the boat in one piece so we’re being careful.”
Gael Le Cleac’h, Sill’s skipper, can only push his boat to reduced limits, and he knows how vulnerable that makes Sill’s second place. “We are sailing quite quickly under gennaker, but we have to be very careful with our mast and so if we get more wind we will have to reduce sail. My main concern is to be sure that the mast is okay and if we lose second place then that’s what will have to happen. We don’t plan to make it easy for Ecover, but we can’t match them right now.”
Both boats were making excellent way and both have submitted tentative ETAs of 0000 tomorrow morning.
The fourth leg starts on 6 August and sails to Boston. The final leg returns to St. Malo, France where the first yachts are expected to finish the race between 23-26 August.