While Sill and Kingfisher enjoy stronger winds in the north and AlphaGraphics enjoying better weather in the south, Ecover is looking for another way

“Yesterday was pretty grim, I can tell you,” confides Ecover skipper Mike Golding. “We lost our wind instruments, but I estimated the wind was over 40 knots.” Minor damage is almost unavoidable in these slamming conditions so Golding has opted for discretion over valour and kept south, out of the stronger winds Sill and Kingfisher are enduring.

“There is no middle course,” continued Golding by radio telephone last night. “We have decided to take the northern route and hope to gauge the weather so that we do not get as much wind as Kingfisher and Sill. It will be better for us to stay closer to the High.”

Meanwhile, Golding was delighted to hear that skipper Helena Darvelid’s AlphaGraphics MOB incident ended happily: “Helena must be congratulated for her seamanship,” said Golding. “We have been on the edge ourselves and I know it must have been frightening for the crew. Our guys have had lifejackets and harnesses on and been holding on tight.”

According to this morning’s 0830 poll, Sill has stabilised her lead at 60 miles despite Kingfisher’s relentless challenge. Ecover is just ten miles behind Kingfisher on Distance To Finish figures but with the northerly option both faster and shorter – if you get through unscathed – the leaders will be very difficult to reel in.

Fila and Gartmore are racing within 30 miles of each other, 170 miles southeast of Ecover but about 200 miles behind the leader. AlphaGraphics’ intended route clockwise around the Azores High improves their chances of arriving in Baltimore without further incident but leaves them way out of contention overall.