Sam Davies aboard Skandia has moved up to fourth place in the Trophée BPE - the first race of the Figaro circuit - gaining an impressive 27nm on leader Bostik

British sailor Sam Davies aboard Skandia has moved up to fourth place in the Trophée BPE – the first race of the Figaro circuit – gaining an impressive 27nm on leader Bostik. Sam was also the fastest boat in the fleet the previous day, winning the Top Chrono (fastest 24 hour record of the day) with 238.7nm.

Chatting from the Atlantic Davies said: “At the moment, there’s the Azores high pressure which we’re running away from as it spreads out, so we’re not in any risk of being in no wind. We’re right on the big curve of the high pressure – because I’m nearer the south I’m nearly hooked in to the trade winds which are stronger and more east [in direction]. So I have a better angle to the wind and greater strength. Bostik and Credit Maritime-Zerotwo are nearly there but they are just right in the curve, the isobars are further apart where they are and they’ve just got lighter winds for the moment.”

Sam is now 17.4nm behind Credit Maritime-Zerotwo in third, and 22nm ahead of in fourth. Bostik is now just 15nm in front of Cercle Vert in second.

The fleet are not as divided as they were a few days ago, the northern and southern fleets are coming closer together. Skandia remains almost exactly mid-way between the most northern boat, and the most southern boat. Eight of the 12 boats are now south of the rhum line (direct course between St Nazaire and Cuba). Cercle Vert in second is one of the only leading boats in the north, while Bostik, Credit Maritime-Zerotwo and Skandia are each about 50 miles apart forming a line advancing towards Cuba.

Everything is well onboard Skandia with fantastic sailing conditions under asymmetric spinnaker which is newly allowed under the class rules for this race. Although Skandia had an uncomfortably close encounter with an large oil tanker on Wednesday afternoon. “I was surprised because it was fairly close and my ‘Sea Me’ had not begun to beep. The ship got closer and closer and still no signal. In the end, when the ship was on my beam I called him up and asked if he could see me on his radar, they replied, ‘You’ll have to wait three minutes – I’ll just ask them to turn the radars on and they need time to warm up! Ok, so that explains my ‘faulty’ radar transponder! Sure enough, three minutes later, I could clearly detect their two radars functioning. When I asked if they could see me on their screen, the answer was (a disappointing) negative – I was lost in the wave clutter……… However, if they never use their radar, I wouldn’t be surprised if they just had the settings wrong! I had done the same test with my parents and they had managed to spot me. (albeit just)

“I am surprised that ships like this turn their radar off. I wonder why? Are they trying to conserve energy? I can’t imagine a radar would make a difference…. I don’t know the laws for shipping, but I would be happier if I knew that radar was compulsory, then cruisers and short-handed racers in small boats (without radar) can be safer with their radar transponders. If there is a risk we can be lost in clutter on their screen, at least it is better for us to have the alarm function to warn us there is a ship in the area and enable us to avoid getting into a dangerous situation.”

Current weather still looks to favour Skandia – but with Credit Maritime-Zerotwo and Bostik taking miles south where possible, the advantage that Sam holds weather-wise, is likely to be reduced. As the boats get into the established trade winds keeping the boat sailing at optimum pace will become very important, any downtime due to skipper fatigue, or gear failure will quickly transfer to miles added to the leader board and a slip down the rankings.