British yachtsman Phil Sharp and David Krizek into top three of Transat AG2R 6/5/07

Phil Sharp (left) and David Krizek onboardAtlantick FTare celebrating moving up into third position in the Transatlantic AG2R race. With approximately 1,300 miles until the finish line in St Barths, the duo are looking forward to hoisting their spinnaker:

“Well after 5 days of slogging upwind across the Atlantic the wind is miraculously going aft and we’re just prepared the spinnaker for hoist on this calm morning where dawn breaks noticeably later each day as we head west. Incredibly, despite our painfully slow progress and recent inability to point anywhere near the direction of the Caribbean, the northern pack of boats that we’re amongst is still holding a good lead on the boats down in the south. This looks set to change though as we have a very light couple of days ahead of us whereas the southerners have reached the trade winds now and will be blasting downwind in entirely different conditions to the finish.

“Right now though it is still wide open. We have about 200 miles on the leader of the southern pack, Circle Vert, and we could well get more wind than forecast to help us to a strong finish before the boats from the south stream in, all the skippers with great tans I’m sure, unlike us who have seen mostly rain and squalls over the last couple of days. Yesterday we got hit by a 35-knot squall and absolutely torrential rain, and all we could think about was the guys in the south cruising effortlessly downwind, spinnaker up, with far greater speed. One thing is for sure, we feel as though we’ve earned and deserve a good result much more than those guys!

“We temporarily lost a couple of positions yesterday morning as we got slowed in a local area of light winds, but have overtaken three boats overnight and closed slightly on first and second place. Right now one of boats we’ve overtaken, ‘Group Celeos’ is in visual about half a mile behind us now. In fact he’s in exactly the same position at the same distance as when we saw him just after Madeira. I still find it incredible that after 2,500 miles of racing and the fleet radiating off in all directions, you can find yourself right next to someone again and find it impossible to get rid of them for days. Maybe it is a bit of a game of “OK well I’m not convinced I’m going the best way so maybe I’ll stay close to you, you must know where you’re going since you’ve just overtaken me”. That’s probably an exaggeration but there are definitely magnetic ties between lots of boats in the Figaro class. Perhaps people prefer to take someone else down with them in case they stuff up!

“The last thing I like doing is following anyone obliviously, I think it important to have you’re own game plan so you can try and jump the guys ahead of you. However as it has worked out, the three players ahead of us have similar optimal routes based on limited weather information, same routing software, and similar local effects such as wind shifts. So fingers crossed we’ve worked well enough as a group to beat the southern lightweights. Time will tell!”