We chose a different route – says Gartmore’s skipper after finishing fourth in the five-boat third leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge

Gartmore crossed the finish line of the third leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge at 1044 GMT this morning to claim fourth place. His mid-course strategy – avoiding the howling headwinds in the north and the huge distance involved in picking up tradewinds – could have worked had Gartmore found good breeze.

“We chose a different route from our competitors,” said Ipswich-based Hall. “It was a strategic move that we hoped would pay off. We made a mistake trying to get north of that low off Ireland and were not expecting to lose 150 miles from that decision. After that we sailed our own race and believe that if we had followed the others to the north we would have been even further behind.”

By the time Hall dropped south, Gartmore was already almost a day off the leaders’ pace. To finish a day behind second-placed Sill and third-placed Ecover would seem to suggest that Gartmore’s middle road didn’t cost him too dearly. But if we consider that Sill was crippled upwind for the last five days, Gartmore’s position flatters.

Hall however believes that he had a winning strategy. “We felt that we took the option that could have won us the race, which we would not have done had we stayed with the others.”

Had Gartmore found breeze like she did on her final approach, it might have been a different story. “It was a very exciting ride with the speed around 26-27 knots much of the time. Unfortunately we couldn’t really let her rip because the seas were so steep.”

There’s still no official word on the progress of the protest hearing (Gartmore protested Kingfisher and Ecover for receiving ocean current information contrary to race instructions) but it’s Gartmore’s best chance of getting in among the leaders so they’ll be fighting tooth and nail for redress.