Having followed Jourdain’s Sill into the right breeze, Scarabelli’s Fila is now leading the fifth leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge
This morning’s polled figures, taken at 0742, gave Fila a lead of 17 miles over yesterday’s leader Kingfisher and she is extending that lead by the hour. Sill is fourth, three miles behind a resurgent Ecover, now within ten miles of Kingfisher and closing.
The southerly option, spotted by both Jourdain and Scarabelli, has once again proved the right one, although looking at Jourdain’s meteorological record in the EDS, how could we have doubted?
Once into the new breeze, it was always going to be a fair bet that Fila, refreshed after retiring from the third leg with a broken forestay and sitting out the fourth leg during repairs, would take advantage of a somewhat shell-shocked Sill crew (ten days ago, they were flying home with three pieces of mast) to bluster into the lead. The speed derivative between Sill and Fila is proportional to the skippers’ respective faith in their masts.
Onboard Kingfisher, the mood will be darkening daily. Not only has she missed out on the best weather option – clearly in the south – she is being out-dragged by Ecover in the north and this morning was just 13 miles from fifth place, ahead of Gartmore and AlphaGraphics.
It looked so different yesterday when Kingfisher was preparing to break records. “By 1500, we began to see TWS of up to 26 knots. The sea had built and Kingfisher was stonking. We were experiencing periods of sustained boatspeed up to 24 knots – I mean pinned on 22s 23s for minutes at a time. The situation was promising enough for us to request more frequent polling via Sat C as we were over the 24-hour record pace and set up for an attempt.” The wind died within minutes of their request.
Golding is sitting pretty as Ecover edges up the rankings. “We are beginning to fly now,” said the former fireman. “Finally we have broken through the low pressure trough and have joined the conveyor heading for the Channel. Tactically even the most radical options seem to have panned out roughly even.”
The Finot designs are springing into life as the wind swings aft and Josh Hall’s Gartmore is feeling the benefit too. “We are all excited to be sailing at last on hot downwind angles,” said Hall, “the smiles have replaced the upwind grimaces.”
“After a very tricky night in shifting winds, calms and heavy, heavy rain, this morning we finally touched the southerly stream of air to the east of the cold front we had all been pursuing. The breeze has built steadily to its current 30 knots and we are flying along, the speedo rarely under 19 knots.”
The girls of AlphaGraphics have opted for a southerly track once again and now find themselves furthest south. Their main concern will be keeping far enough away from the centre of the Azores Atlantic system that brings these following winds to avoid parking up in a stodge of high pressure.
The race router believes the breeze will stay around the 30-knot mark for some time to come, veering slowly into the west over the next few days. Race HQ is on record alert and Bernard Stamm’s 24-hour monohull record – 467.7 miles – set recently on an Open 60 of his own design and build, Armor Lux – Foie Gras Bizac, looks well within grasp.