Nick Moloney and the crew of Kingfisher are ‘over the moon’ at hitting the front for the first time in the last few days of the fifth leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge

Kingfisher was in exactly the right position to make the most of a lift in the breeze and she has gone from third by four miles to first by seven miles – the distance maybe slight but the effect on Kingfisher’s morale is considerable.

“It’s unreal,” raved Kingfisher skipper Nick Moloney on Kingfisher’s return to the top of the leaderboard. “We are pretty wrapped to be back in the lead again, but we realize that there is still a lot of racing ahead and if we do not pay attention we could end up fourth.”

Nor is Adrienne Cahalan lunging for the champagne just yet. With the wind forecast to drop with the sun, the priority for Kingfisher’s Adrienne Cahalan is “setting ourselves up for tonight and light airs.” Tidal charts are getting a good thumbing at the moment as the leaders try to gauge their approach for favourable tide. If it’s working against as they approach, the fleet will compress even more and their slim lead could fade completely.

The change in breeze is allowing them to sail directly for St Malo and at 1043 this morning, Kingfisher’s DTF dipped below 200 miles. Mike Golding’s Ecover is keeping pace from a position seven miles astern and Kingfisher’s delight is at their cost.

But Ecover crew and winning BT Global skipper Conrad Humphreys is still having a ball battling with Kingfisher and Fila. “We’ve been having a great run” until “we ran out of wind. But we are fully up to speed and will keep plugging away.”

Andrea Scarabelli’s Fila has ominously rejoined Roland Jourdain’s Sill in the south, echoing the start of the leg. They are 17 and 21 miles respectively off Kingfisher’s lead and sailing 2-3 knots faster that the leading pair in the 22-25 knot breezes – this despite more problems with Fila’s mainsail.

“We had a 30-knot gust of wind and the top batten that we were using to lash our Vectran lines to, broke. We now have a big rip below the batten,” said Scarabelli. Describing the appearance of the sail, he added “half a reef at the top and two reefs at the bottom.”

The priorities on Gartmore are of a rather different nature. “We have managed to restrict the water intake from our damaged rudder area a little,” said skipper Josh Hall, “and now only need to run the pump every hour to discharge around 1000 litres of water at a time.” They are 381 miles from the finish making just three knots and working to a St Malo ETA of sometime Sunday.

AlphaGraphic’s skipper Helena Darvelid is starting to feel a little cheesed off as the wind dies around the girls’ boat again. They are 841 miles off the lead and strolling towards the finish at five knots. At least the showers will be free when they get in.