After another 24 hours of relentless match-racing in the Regata Rubicon, Sill Plein Fruit has come out on top this morning

After another 24 hours of relentless match-racing in the Regata Rubicon, Sill Plein Fruit has come out on top this morning, averaging a slightly faster boat speed. And at the 0900hrs report, Roland Jourdain and his team were 3.4 miles ahead of yesterday’s leader, Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm on Bobst Group – Armor Lux.

Temenos (Wavre) has, in the last six hours, doubled her deficit to 11.2 miles, but is holding firmly to third place over Tiscali Global Challenge (Bianchetti) some 25 miles behind.

All these top four boats in the second leg of the Regata Rubicon have taken a route to the North of the Balearic Islands, however, all eyes are on Kingfisher (Moloney), as she is currently positioned just to the south of Formentera, clearly trying a completely different option in order to shake off the 82 miles that lie between her and her friend Sill Plein Fruit in the lead.

Undoubtedly there is an air of heightened tension on these boats, as can be picked up on the radio chat. Bernard Stamm, whose boat Bobst Group – Armor Lux has just lost the edge to Sill Plein Fruit 40 miles to the north of Majorca, talks in short sharp bursts, the crew shouting commands in the background. “We’re just 100 per cent on this duel! What an atmosphere on board! We changed from full mainsail and Solent to two reefs and ORC in one fell swoop. We saw this big black cloud up ahead with breeze below it and after the shower came 38 knots of wind!”

Tiscali were pointing directly towards the Spanish coastline early this morning, but have aligned themselves behind the fleet ahead now, with the fastest boat speed of the fleet at 8.2 knots, and equally awaiting the wind shift to the north-west.

Kingfisher’s early morning route saw the boat clocking up the fastest speeds of around 9.7 knots rounding to the south of the Island of Formentera. The 0900hrs GMT report shows a reduced speed of 5.5 knots, and her distance to the leader has not slimmed, so will this radical southerly option start to pay for Moloney and his team in the hours to come?

How long will these two leaders hold their positions? It looks like the north-north-west breeze will fill in over the course of today and propel the boats to Sta. Margherita Ligure in Italy fairly swiftly. There are still over 300 miles to run until they reach the capricious winds reigning over the gulf of Genoa. At least the wind’s return has brought some relief to the teams, who have been full on racing since last Tuesday. Last words from Bilou sum up the effects of such long distance regatta racing: “In these typical Mediterranean light airs racing against Bobst Group, we’ve gone through emotions we never even knew we had in us!

But what about the forecast? This morning the leaders will cross a cold front, which will send a few storm clouds their way. Behind this front the mistral is starting to fill in. The north to north-east wind north of the Balearic Islands will gradually rotate to the north-west as the boats move eastwards. The southerly option Kingfisher has taken is not a winner, as the sailing angle coming up to the gulf of Genoa will be quite tight. For those in the north, it will be better to get in any tacks to the north-west today rather than later when the sea will be much more difficult. Perhaps there will be no need to tack as the wind is strengthening to 25-30 knots, gusting to 40 knots today, giving the boats much needed acceleration.

Positions at 0900hrs GMT

1 Sill Plein Fruit

2 Bobst Group Armor Lux

3 Temenos


5 Kingfisher