The wind across the racecourse had gone to the northeast and patchy with large areas of no wind at all
Simonas Steponavicius’ Volvo 60, Ambersail was 151 miles from the finish yesterday evening, heading inshore presumably to take advantage of the tidal race at Portland Bill. The Lithuanian boat was achieving over eight knots but need to average over 14 knots to take the overall prize. John Merricks II was around Land’s End with 195 miles to go; they need to average nearly 17 knots to beat the corrected time of the current leader.
Earlier today Luke McCarthy, skipper of John Merricks II had this to say from on board: ‘We have just passed Bishop Rock and we have had a sweepstake on when we will finish: 1100 to 1800 hours tomorrow is the spread. It looks as though we will have yet more upwind work to do for the last leg of this race. The beat up to Muckle Flugga really took its toll on the boat and crew, and we have hardly had the spinnaker up at all since we passed Dover all those days ago. The British Keelboat Academy was well prepared for this race, but we could definitely have waterproofed the boat better; there are a few trickles from deck leaks, but the occasional torrent of water coming down the companion way, makes life pretty unpleasant down below, as well as on deck.’
Artemis Ocean Racing is in ‘the clubhouse’ and look to be in a very strong position to win the overall handicap prize for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. Their biggest threat for the moment is Piet Vroon’s Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens. Piet Vroon has completed 25 Fastnets as skipper and he knows this part of the racecourse better than just about anyone. Today at 1500 BST Tonnerre de Breskens was 236 miles from the finish and approaching the Isles of Scilly. They were in light headwinds and only achieving just over five knots of boat speed. However they only need to average 6.75 knots to overhaul Artemis Ocean Racing and reach the finish line by 01:54:35 on Wednesday morning.
The signs are that the wind may well be on its way, by morning a fresher easterly breeze is predicted along the English Channel. This may give a ray of hope to the yachts further back on the racecourse. However tonight will be difficult one on board. Trying to keep in the breeze and avoiding windless traps is far more difficult at night. Realistically, it looks like Tonnerre de Breskens is the only yacht capable of beating Artemis Ocean Racing’s corrected time, but do not be surprised if this fascinating race does not have a few more twists before it is over.
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