Sharp in more comfortable position and Ditton faces autopilot problems 14/11/06

British sailor Phil Sharp faces a challenging next 24 hours in the Route du Rhum transatlantic race as the winds begin to drop on the approach to the finish in Guadeloupe. A good night of sailing for Sharp saw the Jersey based sailor regain some of the ground lost over the last couple of days to nearest rival, French sailor Gildas Morvan. The lasted position report showed that Sharp has gained a further 25 miles on his rival and was now 102 miles ahead in what has become a two horse race.

Elsewhere in the Route du Rhum fleet Kip Stone in Class 2 monohulls is now just 300 miles from the finish but faces a threat from Servane Escoffier on Vedettes de Brehat Cap Marine. Escoffier is now just 68.8 miles behind Stone, but in a more favourable position in terms of wind than the American skipper. She also shows the best average in the last 24 hours, with 252.8 miles swallowed in, while Kip sailed 193.6 miles. The next few hours are going to be interesting.

British sailor Lia Ditton, now just over 1,000 miles to the finish is working hard to catch the leader of Class 3 monohull ¬- Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty. She has gained 20 miles overnight but faces autopilot problems which which she is currently trying to sort out see Lia’s latest log here . In a extract from her latest log Ditton said: “No pilot is the most horrifying sentence to a single-handed sailor. It marks an abrupt end to a competitive entry in a race and signifies the beginning of a long and torturous ride home.

No pilot was the prospect that I faced yesterday. With the potentially disastrous outcome of either a broach round up and/or crash gybe if the pilot gave up, I had struggled to sleep. I had become sensitive to every wave and gust and its impact on the boat. Not without warrant. Three or four times in the pitch black of night I had needed to spring up the companion way steps to dive for the tiller, as the autopilot ‘off course’ alarm rang out its warning tone. By morning my blood pressure must have reached an all-time high.”