With less than 12 hours to the finish of the Mini Transat the two leaders are averaging 10 knots

With only 100 miles remaining to Bahia and the finish of the 2005 Mini Transat, both Pella and Douget are averaging over 10 knots in their match race to the line.

No strategy, no moves, no games: just pure speed sailing for the remaining half a day.

Barring disaster – and we have seen it before with Manuard in 03 (dismasted 80 miles from the line) – Douget will have taken a close second in the Leg 2, securing a superb first place overall.

With Pella likely to win Leg 2, he will have done all he can to ensure second overall. He has to gain 4 hours on elapsed time in order overtake Sharp and Hardy in the overall standings. He looks to have done enough, with a 160 mile lead at 0900. Will there be a shut down in the breeze at the finish creating a twist in this marathon story? He probably has enough even if there is.

And what of the coveted third pace on the overall podium
It’s all on.

So many combinations, so many outcomes: enough calculations to put your head into a spin: and that’s in the calm environment of perfect information and a computer.
What must it be like for those involved? Two and half weeks of solitary confinement at sea, tired skippers with zero information on the exact position of the others boats, the pressure playing on your mind, whist you remain powerless to actually do anything about the other skippers?

So: speed, speed, speed for the last 24 hours.
Easy – right?

It would seem not.

The dismasting of Blevec whilst in poll position for a podium place overall, provides some perspective on how difficut the balance is. From round the world record holder on the worlds largest catamaran, to dirfting around the South Atlantic on a 21ft boat, in 6 quick months. A brutal finish for one of the top contenders.

And let’s not forget Aloys Claquin: three years solid work, sorting the gremlins in the race to qualify over two years in advance, only for his entire rudder system to self-destruct mid-ocean. “I am disappointed as you can imagine” the French skipper said simply, from the safety of a race support boat.

So who gets third overall?
Option 1 – Hardy beats Sharp by well over three hours:
Hardy gets third (as long as Maslard doesn’t beat him by enough, or Gladu doesn’t come up from behind…unlikely).

Option 2 – Sharp keeps hardy down to under three hours:
Sharp gets 3rd and the second best British result ever (as Long as Maslard doesn’t beat him by enough and Gladu doesn’t close).

Option 3 – Gladu halves the distance to Sharp and Hardy:
Gladu gets third. (Very unlikely as he is running out of race track.)

Option 4: Maslard extends on both Hardy and Sharp, enough to overcome 6 hour deficit:
Maslard gets third (unlikely and only as long as Gladu doesn’t close etc. etc.)

Confused? All is resolved in 12 hours.

Further down the pack, the positions look set to remain steady in the final run to the line.

Nick Bubb remains in 23rd on the official ranking (22nd with the retirement of Bunoust). With the breeze strengthening to 20 knots over the last two days, he will have the opportunity to gain on Sottovia, who is sailing a higher course in the new breeze.

However, Bubb will have to hold off the attentions of Oliver Avram, just two miles astern. With the fleet strung out over a long distance, these boats only have 500 miles to go.

Two days until the end of the hottest Mini marathon ever.