Out of the River Plate and preparing to meet strong winds on the way to Cape Horn
On the third day of racing, reports are starting to trickle in that the cold is coming! Now out of the River Plate the thoroughly refreshed crews are chomping at the bit to get in the lead and brush away any association of being near the back of the fleet.
There are currently 12 miles separating the three dead heat front runners (Spirit of Sark, Me to You and BP Explorer) and back two (Imagine It. Done and VAIO) yacht, as the fleet jostles to get the upper hand, over closest rivals and are swapping places like giant yo yos [SIC].
The main pack is keeping tight in middle ground, currently lying in the centre of the east-west split. VAIO has the inside line as the most westerly yacht, and BG SPIRIT and Samsung heading out to the east. Samsung are the furthest east having made the boldest move out in an attempt to capitalise on some northerly breezes approaching from the east. With the BBC weatherman on board, Phil Avery, it will be interesting to see if this gamble pays off, although Race HQ has confirmed that for the second poll they have recorded the fastest 24 hour run of 177 miles (although not directly parallel to the course).
‘Yesterday we had some interesting tactical discussions on board,’ writes Amedeo Sorrentino on VAIO. ‘At 6pm local time we were quite close to the shore and had four yachts just behind us and one just in front, while the leading yachts were all further offshore.
‘We seem to be the only boat out of our group of five that chose to stick to the shortest course, while the rest headed out. From last night’s positions it looks like the yachts that were close to us managed to catch up with the leaders, indicating that they may indeed have ended up in a lull and are now all bunching up. In the course of the next 24-48 hours we will find out what strategy worked best, and indeed if it made any difference at all as we converge on a course to the Cape.’
The next major shift in weather will be strong north-westerly winds approaching from the south-west. If the fleet formation remains an almost flat line charge to the Horn, it will not be the leaders that the see the benefit of this shift first, but the most easterly yachts, as the low-pressure system crosses the landmass of South America and meets the fleet.
The stronger winds are expected tomorrow, so the sailing will be brisk for the rest of the week until they reach Cape Horn, probably on Friday or Saturday.’