At 0600 GMT this morning Brian Thomson and his Doha 2006 crew were 199 miles from the Oryx Quest finish line

At 0600 GMT this morning Brian Thompson and his Doha 2006 crew were 199 miles from the Oryx Quest finish line and it’s almost time for Team Doha to begin thinking how they are going to spend that million dollars.

The past 24 hours has not been easy for the multinational crew on Doha 2006. The Strait of Hormuz dished up the same tranquil sailing as it did on the outbound path. A glassy ocean heaving gently from centuries of constant use is no place for a boat in a hurry. Instead the crew had to content themselves with a spectacular light show as a fiery sun dipped spluttering and sizzling into the water ahead of them.

It’s déjà vu all over again as Paul Larsen describes in his log. “So here we are, here we are,” he wrote. “Parked up in the Strait of Hormuz just as we were on the way out. It’s a ‘park-up’ so spectacular that you almost don’t want to go below decks in case you miss anything. The big difference this time is that the other boats aren’t scattered around us as they were on the way outbound. It is total glass here and the log has been showing ‘goose eggs’ (all zeroes) for hours now. The mountainous skylines are on hazy horizons and the sunset was wonderfully peaceful.”

With just under 200 miles to go they will have to keep in fair breezes until the final mile. The forecast does offer some hope, but it’s not all good news. The Met office in Qatar is predicting 15 to 20 knots from the northwest; headwinds, but not hard on the wind. The wind is forecast to ease slightly later in the day and then probably die overnight.

The desert sands in Qatar suck warmth all day, but so does the ocean. Thompson and his crew can only hope that there is enough of a temperature difference between the two to cause a land breeze during the evening otherwise it may just be a repeat performance of the last few evenings.

In what is likely his final log of the race, Paul Larsen described life on board as the boat turned into the home stretch. “So it has been an unusual day despite the frustrating numbers on the instruments,” he wrote. And then added; “Hang on. The lovely sound of water trickling by the hull outside has filled the media station once more and a light breeze is blowing through the open escape hatch to my right. The temperature is…well it’s perfect and no doubt a magical clear moonless night awaits. At 25 degrees North the Southern Cross is still just visible above the horizon whilst the Pole star climbs ever higher.

“It’s a stargazers paradise. Despite the fact that there is only around 200 miles to go, recent daily runs don’t give us any confidence that we will even finish tomorrow. It’s pretty crazy really. Sure is one interesting course. Makes life hard for our navigator that’s for sure.”

Meanwhile Tony Bullimore and his crew on Daedalus crossed the imaginary line that finally puts them back in the Northern Hemisphere earlier today. With the equator crossing behind them, another major milestone can be ticked off as Tony and his team tackle the last chunk of ocean standing between them and a successful circumnavigation.

Unlike Doha 2006, which crossed the equator nine days ago, Daedalus has hardly slowed. Their track since entering the Indian Ocean has been straight and true as they continue to take big chunks out of Doha 2006’s lead. Ten days ago they were over 3,000 miles astern; this morning they are less than 1,800 miles behind the Qatari catamaran. But it’s most certainly too little, to late.