Race leaders are due to arrive in Newport, Rhode Island, at the end of the week

The Race is now in its 15th day, and the majority of the fleet, having sailed north along the Great Circle Route staying out of the Gulf Stream, now heads south around expected ice drifts.

As the cold water current meets the warmer Gulf Stream off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, dense fog occurs. The 31 remaining competitors have faced the full cocktail of these adverse conditions, as well as severe gales (35-40 knot winds), which occurred overnight on 7 June.

18-year-old Oscar Mead, in one of the smaller boats, described surfing down the largest wave he has ever seen at 20 knots trying to steer straight down it as his boat is slewed 45 degrees off course.

After two weeks at sea, many skippers are suffering from boat or equipment defects such as torn sails or damaged rigging. Electrical problems and battery charging difficulties are also high on the list of concerns.

The trackers aboard Oscar Mead’sKing of Shavesand Andy Petty’sJemima Nicholasare not reporting every four hours as they should. However, both boats are giving regular position reports by other means. (All boats send their position at 12:00 UT each day by satellite telephone text to Race HQ as a back up safety measure.)

The leading boatLa Promesse(pictured), sailed by Dutchman Jan Kees Lampe, is now less than four hundred miles from the finish line at Newport, Rhode Island. He is expected to arrive late tomorrow (11 June) or early on Friday (12 June), although anything might happen between now and then.

The present OSTAR record for a 40ft boat is held by Simon Van Hagen inSeatalkwith the time of 19 days, 11 hours and 19 minutes set in 1992.La Promesseshould break this by some margin as Jan will surely finish before 18:49 on Saturday 13 June.

Other records:

The 35ft record is held by Mary Falk inQ II, time 19D 22H 57M, (1996).
The 30ft record is held by Michel Kleinjans inP M CHARLES, time 20D 14H 48M, (1996).

Looking at the weather pattern both these records could be broken but it will be close.

To follow the race, visit www.ostar2009.com .