“We lost second rather than won third” said Golding over breakfast at the end of the third leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge

For the last few days, followers of the EDS Atlantic Challenge have been waiting for Ecover to follow Kingfisher’s example and blast past the troubled Sill into snatch second place. Although the British Open 60 did manage to get on terms and even pass at one stage with 120 miles still to go, a tactical error in Chesapeake Bay assured them of third place.

Other chances were also spurned, as Golding explains: “It was a big gybe – basically we trashed the mainsail.” The crew dropped the sail and spent two hours repairing it, believing second place was already beyond them. “We put it back up and then saw on the position report that we were still only five miles behind Sill so we thought we’d better put the pedal down again. The race was still on.”

The unfortunate fact is that, for this leg, the fastest route is the North Atlantic rhumbline which will inevitably bring strong headwinds. Ecover, a 1998 Groupe Finot design, is designed for the Vendée, predominantly an offwind race. Kingfisher and Sill are, by design, more able to progress in headwinds and this is a massive advantage along this route.

In finishing so close behind Sill and Kingfisher, Ecover has excelled. For an alternative perspective on how well they have sailed this leg, look at the position of Ecover’s more conventional sistership Gartmore. Her skipper Josh Hall – always circumspect as gear failure has wrecked so many of his races – wouldn’t even risk the winning route.

Hall hopes to pick up a few places on the leaderboard once Gartmore finishes. He has lodged a protest relating to information on ocean currents allegedly supplied, contrary to race instructions, to Ecover and Kingfisher. “It’s a very serious allegation,'” said Golding, “but we’re confident that we have done nothing wrong.”

Gartmore is expected to arrive around 0400 GMT tomorrow morning.