Good steady breeze in the southerly section of the fleet has skimmed Fila into the lead at twice the speed of second placed Ecover

Andrea Scarabelli’s Fila leads by 36 wake-filled miles. The Finot designed Italian Open 60 is blazing along in excellent southwesterly breezes, making nearly 19 knots when the latest poll was taken at 1643 today, and she topped the second best day’s run by 40 miles. Golding predicted the change but knows this is how it’s going to be until the next big play is made. “We are constantly shifting gears,” said Ecover’s skipper, “constantly making sail adjustments, decision changes, it’s a continuously mobile strategy, like three-dimensional chess.”

On Kingfisher, now 48 miles off the lead, skipper Nick Moloney admitted to gybing south too early yesterday, giving Golding’s Ecover 30 miles, but didn’t predict any change in the overall strategy of sailing as the weather dictates. “You have to stick to your guns, sail your own race.”

The next Atlantic low, due in 24-36 hours, is approaching from the northwest, bringing better breeze to the northerly boats but first to Gartmore, now 158 miles away from the action. Josh Hall is rolling uncomfortably, waiting for a change. “We need to get out of the dead downwind situation and get some fast reaching,” he decided.

“We wouldn’t mind a little luck right now,” he added, before brightening his outlook: “You can’t go around with your bottom lip dragging on the deck. You have to make the best of what you have.”

Speaking of which, Sill’s stand-in skipper Gael Le Cleac’h stated the obvious today when talking about their collapsible mast. “We are afraid of breaking it again,” said Le Cleac’h. He also complained of lack of sleep from several days before the leg began, and has been comparing the quality of Sill’s weather lately to the contents of ‘the bucket’.

Sill has lost another ten miles to Fila and now lies 59 miles off the lead. Le Cleac’h however isn’t displeased with progress in general. Keeping clear of Ecover and Kingfisher in the early stages was an added bonus of their southerly course but also allowed them to step up slowly through their sail wardrobe, building both mastloads and confidence gently: simply, “we do it our way.”

As the breeze in the south stays strong and friendly, Scarabelli is expecting to make hay in the next 24 hours. “Southerly is paying,” he said, referring to the free knot added to their VMG by the Gulf Stream. “For the moment, we are in a good position.”

AlphaGraphics felt the random violence of the squall today. She has been running downwind under full main and spinnaker through a region of squalls all day, most gentle stirrings but one laid them flat. “We saw it on the radar. We were pinned over our side and it was pitch dark,” she recalled. Darvelid made sure nobody went on deck to retrieve the mangled spinnaker without their harness attached at both ends. They’re back up and running well in sixth, 235 miles behind Fila.