Logica took pole position overnight and now leads the Challenge Transat by five miles

Overnight, Logica has stormed into the lead in the Challenge Transat and is now five miles ahead of BG Group with Vail Williams still chasing hard in third place.

Logica’s impressive performance came in spite of a storm-related mishap that shredded one of its most important sails last week.

Dawn Batchelor, Crew Volunteer commented: “Last Thursday we met the first part of the storm and just as it became dark we heard flapping from the Yankee 2 – one of our main driving sails. The sail had shredded across a panel in three places, one from leech to luff of the sail.”

The loss of this high-power sail would put the team at competitive disadvantage. Skipper Duggie Gillespie claimed the sail was irreparable. However, the competitive Logica crew had other ideas and decided that it should and indeed could be repaired. “So, with needles, thread tags from sail bags (the only sail cloth aboard) and anything else we could find, we set to,” continued Dawn. “Twenty-four hours later, and to the crew’s delight, the sail was repaired. It’s been hoisted twice now and the repair has held. The skipper, in true race form, refuses to go easy on it and so it’s used to full capacity. He’s been heard to mutter that he has never seen any repair like it.”

Vail Williams will need to keep fighting hard as the crew aboard Spirit of Hong Kong, sailing in fourth place, are just seven miles behind and has been working around the clock in an effort to grab third place. Robin Freeth reported that Spirit of Hong Kong had picked up a fresh breeze after being locked in irons most of the day and were hotly in pursuit of the three front-runners.

Sailing appears not to be the only factor preoccupying the Vail Williams’ crew as skipper, Dave Melville explains: “Last night in the middle of a calm we were surrounded by a huge flock of exhausted birds. They kept flying into the sail and falling onto our heads.

“We endlessly had to throw them off the boat as we tried to get the kite down. There was only one casualty! Some hours later as the mate was putting a position on the chart he felt something warm under his back and found he was sitting on a bird that was nesting in a midlayer. It was chucked overboard with the rest and flew off!”

Forty one miles behind Spirit of Hong Kong, TeamSpirit skipper Mark Taylor was filled with frustration over light winds and uncooperative ocean currents. “It has been very slow sailing as we ran out of wind and hit strong east going current which at times was running up to 2.5 knots,” Taylor reported this morning. “This made for lots of concentration and very little mileage.

Now past the midway point in their journey, the yachts have departed from their northerly Great Circle track and begun their first tentative tacks towards Boston to their south-west.

“We have come off the Great Circle course for the first time of the race as we are dropping south to pick up the leading edge of the low formed behind the high pressure ridge,” Taylor said.

But, while bringing them closer to their goal, the drop south also brings with it entirely new weather challenges – the first of which already caused Taylor and his crew to lose ground.

“It was thought that low would move in from the south,” Taylor said, “however it stalled and the high pressure ridge is dominating – so we may well have been better staying north.”

The forecast for the next couple of days shows that the entire fleet will experience light winds, although on Friday the remnants of hurricane Dolly will sweep over the fleet providing, what the teams hope, will be more lively sailing conditions. Once again they’ll be able to put their hard earned training into practice as they jostle to move up the fleet rankings and closer to Boston.