With Sill Plein Fruit and Kingfisher tenaciously battling head to head in front of the fleet, it's beginning to look like the race is now for third place
It’s reckoning time for the strategists. With Sill Plein Fruit and Kingfisher tenaciously battling head to head in front of the fleet, it’s beginning to look like the race is now for third place.
Mike Golding, who took a westward flyer last night, has regained fifth place after slipping to sixth earlier. Nevertheless, so far his strategy has failed to create the upset he had hoped — though he clings to his decision.
“We’ve drawn a line under the decision,” said Golding of Monday night’s choice. “Two sources of forecasts both suggested that going farther offshore as we left the River Elbe would give slightly fresher winds.”
He added, “We know we can’t match Sill upwind and have to work hard to hold Kingfisher, so we were looking for an edge, something a little different.”
With the winds about to strengthen from the southwest, Golding knows that his boat, ECOVER, will be at a severe disadvantage. Both ECOVER and Gartmore came from the same mould when built and both are downwind hulls.
Like Golding, Josh Hall aboard Gartmore watched Sill and Kingfisher extend their leads with a sense of dread.
“After repeatedly having to witness the upwind capabilities of Kingfisher and Sill, it is hard to just follow in their wakes and not try some alternative options,” said Hall. “Our dilemma was whether to head south with the others or cover ECOVER.”
With little hope of catching Sill and Kingfisher, both Golding and Hall must now have their sights trained on FILA, who is holding in third place.
With just five miles separating FILA and Gartmore, Hall – who is farther west than FILA – should catch the stronger winds first, offering him a shot at passing FILA.
Golding’s choices are more complicated. His flyer took him so far west that he is 14 miles away from FILA and 28 miles behind leader Sill. If the strong south-westerlies fill later tonight he will have to chose between staying his current course or moving more to the east to cover Gartmore’s attack on FILA.
Things are simpler at the head of the fleet. With the exception of some electrical problems, Kingfisher skipper Ellen MacArthur reports the boat is sailing at over 92 percent efficiency.
“Well, once again we’re upwind,” MacArthur said. “We have had electrical problems – which have had me with my head in the wiring for three hours ?and if it wasn’t enough the engine electrics failed! More time in the wiring.”
We’ll keep you posted as events occur.