Kingfisher has arrived in Baltimore after a lightning finish to the third leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge
Last Friday, Kingfisher was still digesting the news about Sill’s forestay and celebrating having passed the wounded French flyer. Today, at 0734 GMT, Kingfisher shot Baltimore Bay Channel Bridge to win the third leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge nearly 300 miles head of her hobbled nemesis.
Rocketing in at 20 knots on the back of a low over the mouth of the Chesapeake, Kingfisher claimed her first win in this series of races and posted notice to Sill’s crew that their supremacy is disputed. During the 15-day, 3,430-mile crossing from Portsmouth to Baltimore, Kingfisher spent much of the time pushing Sill as hard as she safely could, looking for a way past but finding Sill round every corner.
With Sill and Kingfisher both choosing the North Atlantic rhumbline route favoured by STAR sailors, a relentless string of gale-toting lows tested the renowned upwind superiority of these two boats and confirmed the comparative weakness of the Finot boats on that point of sail. These lows gave everyone, the tradewind-powered AlphaGraphics excepted, an even-handed battering but still the two leaders pressed on.
It seems the French crew to pushed a little too hard and their wheels loosened dramatically approaching the Grand Banks when their mainsail tore from foot to second reef, before detaching completely with the ping of a failed forestay tang. Throughout the race, Sill has proved Kingfisher’s equal or better in every department except reliability.
At 1042 GMT, figures show Sill making 13-14 knots and tearing up the last 232 miles of her third leg. Unfortunately, it seems Ecover will steal second place. She was just four miles off the pace making 15 knots and further south than Sill, easing her passage across the Gulf Stream.
Gartmore is 275 miles behind Sill but being swept north by the Gulf Stream. This will delay her somewhat but not enough to generate any sort of heat between themselves and AlphaGraphics. The girls are making very similar progress to Gartmore but are still almost 500 miles behind Gartmore on Distance To Finish figures.
Ellen, Nick and the crew of Kingfisher can celebrate their first victory – a triumph of discretion over valour – and concentrate on working out how to stay ahead of or get past a healthy Sill in the next sprint leg and carry this momentum forward.