The AlphaGraphics girls are revelling in the warm weather, said Helena Darvelid. “It’s great,” she enthused, ” it’s warm, we’re shelling off our thermals, getting out the sunscreen and drinking lots of water.” This is in stark contrast to the boats in the north that are still dealing with cold, wet conditions.

Writes Hall, “On board we have a fair amount of wet gear that is trying to dry out and with too much water crossing the deck the hatches are firmly closed, so it smells like a sumo wrestler’s jockstrap down here – a good incentive for staying on deck!!”

Aboard Kingfisher, conditions aren’t much better, as Ellen MacArthur notes in her log today. ” Well, the weather this morning is very damp and humid. We’re pounding along at 14 knots, with a fairly horrible swell as we leave this second depression. The sky above us is once again very grey, and the air around us is cold and damp.”

Darvelid and crew are following the old mariner’s advice: “Go south until the butter melts then turn right.” The girls are staying south to stay away from the high pressure north of the Azores, keeping a good breeze. “We have to keep averaging 10 knots to make the arrival date,” she said.

There have been questions whether they will arrive in time, but if they continue as planned, Darvelid expects to increase speed in the next few days, which will keep them within the time window.

Mike Golding aboard ECOVER was a proponent of the waypoint at the Azores and he is currently watching AlphaGraphics progress closely, and suggesting that the Race Committee, that vetoed the waypoint, might be regretting that decision. Yesterday his log had an unhappy tone as he chastised the Race Committee, “When several skippers offered the alternative of a waypoint at the Azores to send the boats on a more appropriate route, two boats (predictably Sill and Kingfisher) together with the organisers made a majority and the Race Committee vetoed the proposal.

“My guess is that there will be regrets on both sides. On those boats because of the increased workload in Baltimore, and with the organisers because finally the improbable schedule will be breached.”

ECOVER is not the only boat wishing they were south. Gartmore’s Josh Hall has also made comments on the more southerly route the girls have taken, and it’s quite possible that there are bets riding on whether it will be Darvelid and crew who meets them on the dock in Baltimore with a case of beer, rather than the reverse.

For the bulk of the fleet, life has settled into a routine, now that the worst of the weather is gone, although they will run into another depression over the weekend. Their position was explained by Hall during a radio call today. He said “We have taken the position to go south, as we need to do something different.” By staying south of the low that Sill, Kingfisher and ECOVER will encounter first, they expect to get more wind. Although there are some high-pressure bubbles off the United States coast, he expects to avoid them with this tactic over the next five or six days. “We are pleasantly surprised by the amount of wind we have,” he said, sailing in 25-30 knot headwinds with a 30-degree angle of heel. But he lamented, “It’s tedious to be at this angle of heel for so long. And the common cry of the fleet was again heard: “It would be more fun if it wasn’t upwind so much.”

It had to happen; the usual whale story. In his latest log, Golding writes, “Given the expanse of water it would seem amazing to collide with any wildlife, but today we managed to have a collision with a whale. I was below, napping at the chart table when I was thrown gently forward by the impact. On deck Nigel and Gringo had seen the whales just to leeward and were, to say the least, surprised when the boat jarred as the whale brushed past. Just before disappearing the whale poked its head above the water to see what had disturbed it. “

For Conrad Humphreys aboard ECOVER, this is sailing