As the V5O skippers prepare to set off today, Dalton is predicted to arrive Friday 18/4/07

Last night Graham Dalton was 830 miles from Norfolk, Virginia and is expected to arrive on Friday 20 April. At a speed of 11 knots, Dalton is slowly making his way up the North Atlantic in light airs, while the rest of the East Coast of USA has winds gusting up to 50 knots.

But luck is on his side as the re-start extension means that Dalton is likely to arrive in Norfolk in good time and will be within the necessary time constraints to remain in the race.

Back in dock the skippers are patiently preparing themselves for the final leg, which is expected to start today, Wednesday 18 April at 1000 local time (1400 BST).

Weather model predict very light airs after the storm has dissipated in the Atlantic, so the final leg may be a dawdle rather than a sprint to Bilbao.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston considers the conditions; “The start has had to be delayed as the weather here in Norfolk,Virginia, is appalling, 40 – 50 knots of wind are something we sailors got used to in the Southern Ocean, and worse in the hurricane in the Bay of Biscay at the start of the race, but that’s not the point. In order to start us start boats have to go out in those conditions and people be transferred between them and it would have been dangerous so we are waiting for this system to pass through.

“Those who came to watch a start this weekend were treated instead to a magnificent reception aboard HMS Ocean, complete with Royal Marine Band which I would travel a few hundred miles to hear and watch. Having lost so much time during the last leg Saga Insurance and I have to beat Unai by 42 hours into Bilbao in order to regain third position overall for the race. It’s a tall order, with only 3,500 miles in this last leg, perhaps as much as 15%, and Unai has been sailing his boat faster as the race has developed, but it just might be possible with a bit of luck and gives me something to go for.

“We have checked Saga Insurance, had the sails checked, set up the new jib and staysail, installed the new Lenova computer, almost sorted the programmes, and are ready to go. The team have done as great job.

“We have been living out in a house near Virginia Beach, a half hour drive from the Waterside Marina where the boats are berthed. The Marina is in the city where the public can come right down to the boats and they have come down in their hundreds. Supplies have arrived including a generous amount of Old Pulteney whisky, my new sponsor who joined us here, so morale is assured.”