The three boats leading the fifth leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge are in day-racing mode, just four miles apart
The ridge of high pressure blanketing the Channel has effectively restarted the fifth leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge. Ecover nominally holds the lead with Kingfisher second and Fila third but with just four miles separating the leading trio at 0452 this morning, it’s anyone’s leg.
All three are now west of the Scillies and heading almost due south, hoping to find some breeze under a band of cloud marking the high pressure ridge. Ecover is just 256 miles from St Malo but at the speeds they are making and the direction they are going, this could last another two, three, even four days.
Roland Jourdain’s Sill is 28 miles further from the finish line than Mike Golding’s Ecover. That distance could have been made up in an hour in the fast-reaching conditions the fleet enjoyed mid-Atlantic but with daily runs now down to 110-120 miles, Ecover would need to stop for six hours for Sill to get back on terms. Smart as he is reading weather, not even Jourdain can spirit up a leg-winning breeze out there.
Gartmore is still fifth and apparently heading for southern Ireland. Her vanished port rudder leaves her unable to sail on starboard unless the boat is trimmed almost flat. Making the finish line at all will be a victory in itself for skipper Josh Hall and his crew and they might ask themselves if they wouldn’t be better off hoisting the iron jib and getting Gartmore into port. They could be out there for a week.
Meanwhile AlphaGraphics is skipping her way merrily towards the leading pack. She has knocked almost 200 miles off her 800-mile deficit of two days ago and this morning’s poll shows her returning the best 24-hour run. She will hit the high pressure wall soon enough but if she could find a low pressure system to bring with her, she could still win this leg. What a story that would be.