Once again, Jourdain’s ability to read the weather’s most intimate secrets catapults Sill Plein Fruit into contention in the EDS Atlantic Challenge fifth leg from Boston to St Malo

Nine days ago, Sill’s hopes lay shattered, like her mast. Skipper Roland Jourdain said he had no choice but to retire, knowing a new mast was out of the question, given the time frame, and his old one was too badly broken for repair. Or so he thought?

Sill’s mast was hastily sleeved in Charlotte, North Carolina and flown up to Boston in time for the start of the fifth leg, courtesy of a 24-hour postponement unanimously agreed by the other EDS skippers. Eleven minutes late after grounding on a sandbar, Sill started the EDS Atlantic Challenge fifth leg.

Three hours into the leg Sill, accompanied by Fila, dived south in search of the south-southwesterlies that rotate clockwise around the Azores high pressure. They used the better breeze in the south to break out of the low pressure system in which the fleet was sailing and into the winds rotating around the high pressure.

Kingfisher is too far north to grab the new breeze and could well lose her lead in the next six hours as a result of the speed differential. While Kingfisher and Ecover in the north are making 13-14 knots boatspeed, Fila and Sill are making 16-18 knots. There’s very little in it in VMG terms but one senses that Jourdain now has a little more faith in the new stick and is starting to perform with confidence.

Everything’s coming up roses on the French entry. At 1344 today, Sill, in the south, was a mere seven miles from Kingfisher’s Distance To Finish (DTF) lead with Fila now third, a mile behind Sill. Fila could well be the boat to watch in the next few hours. The Finot designs are offwind rockets and Scarabelli will have a good deal more faith in his rig than Jourdain in Sill’s, allowing him to push harder.

Ecover finds herself fourth, 16 miles off the lead with Gartmore starting to fall off the back, now 32 miles form the lead. Mike Golding’s Ecover made a half-hearted dip south but it was neither one thing nor the other. “I wanted to get a bit further south too but I thought the course taken by Sill and Fila was a bit extreme and risky. But, obviously not. Sill has punched through.”

The girls of AlphaGraphics have settled into their customary sixth place in their vintage Open 60. They are 56 miles off the lead and dropping down to join Sill and Fila in the south.