As the very light weather continues, Roland Jourdain’s Sill seems to have an impregnable lead but Kingfisher and Ecover are duelling to the last

Roland Jourdain’s Sill was 17 miles from Cuxhaven at 1444 this afternoon, making six knots and approaching his layline for Cuxhaven. Jourdain’s reading of the weather has been impeccable throughout and his track during the latter stages of the race shows that he has not sailed a single mile over what was absolutely necessary.

Ellen MacArthur and the crew of Kingfisher were nine miles behind making eight knots for their layline and trying to cover Ecover from their position two miles off Ecover’s windward quarter. Golding was squeezing nine knots out of his Open 60 crewed, among others, by Yachting World Features Editor Elaine Bunting.

Gartmore and Fila were 32 and 37 miles respectively behind Ecover and not closing on the leaders. La Rage de Vivre and AlphaGraphics are where they are likely to stay, 124 and 152 miles from the finish line. Both boats are racing on shoestring budgets, underequipped but determined to get round the course as competitively as possible.

Weather router Ken Campbell is forecasting stormy conditions later this afternoon as thunderheads boil up, bringing squally conditions and patches of strong gusts. If he’s right, the possibility of a leaderboard change may arise, but miracles aren’t expected. “Even the storm will not help the last boats catch up,” said Campbell. “Not even a gale force wind would bring the trailers to the front of the fleet.”

Organisers were expecting the boats to arrive early this morning for a restart, bound for Portsmouth, on Sunday. Whether there is enough elastic build into the schedule to accommodate this meteorological delay is yet to be seen. With conditions expected to change over the weekend, the next leg of 500 miles should be a good deal quicker, despite its likely upwind nature.