Front runners finish, but others have to make do with trolling lures

ARC crews continue to have have patience tried by light winds interspersed with squalls, making progress towards St Lucia frustrating. However, several of the faster boats have finished and line honours went to Whitbread 60Tokio, which finished at 1806 local time on Sunday night, a creditable if not startling passage time of 14 days.

Irvine Laidlaw’s Swan 60Highland Flingwas next to finish, followed byAnya, Finnish owner Juhani Lunden’s Seafinn 76 and Norwegian Stein Erik Hagen’s Baltic 73Canica. Many other boats from 40ft upwards are within a day or two of St Lucia.

For some, though, the voyage is still desperately slow. Curt Chapman onSitoa, an Island Packet 35, reports that, like many yachts, they are now low on fuel.

‘Wind is only a memory as we motor on still seas,’ he writes. ‘The boat is running like a watch and all is very well. Today we broke out the Hoover and even changed the sheets. Might even go all the way and take a bath!

‘Dolphins follow the boat,’ he adds, ‘and swim about like goldfish. Folk are catching marlin, swordfish, and tuna as well. We saw our first finback whale of about 10m.’

‘Pimpernel was actually complaining that all they caught were dorado and wanted advice on a good tuna lure. You could hear their two-year-old in the background, which is probably what prompted one boat to suggest placing a very sharp 12/0 hook under the chin. Coupled with a heavy leader and trolled at six knots, it should produce fine results, they said.

‘And when they get to be teenagers you can use them for chum!’

Jonathan Calascione, sailing his family’s Swan 46Lazy Ducksays his crew are having a great time. ‘We caught an enormous 30kg wahoo, bigger than Sarah (his 8-year-old daughter) which, as you can imagine, caused a lot of excitement on board.

‘There’s not really enough wind for us, so we have been concentrating on fishing, baking bread, playing backgammon, eating well and singing songs. Our big ‘halfway point’ concert by the kids last night was a high point.’

On the spot reports and interviews from the finish in St Lucia will follow from Thursday at