Twenty-four hours ago, there was nothing in it but this morning Sill Plein Fruit has pulled out 43 miles over Kingfisher

At 0454 this morning, after a week of racing in the third leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge, from Portsmouth, UK to Baltimore, USA, Sill’s position indicated 1,804 miles to the finish line. Kingfisher, Sill’s primary rival for the lead, is 43 miles behind after and excellent 24 hours’ work by Sill.

Any disappointment at this news onboard Kingfisher paled alongside the experience bestowed on them by nature yesterday when a school of dolphins danced through Kingfisher’s bowwave. “It doesn’t matter how many times you see them, these intelligent creatures bring a huge grin every time,” said co-skipper Nick Moloney. “They dart from stern to bow at incredible pace, showing off a little as they speed past the bow with a little flip and sideways glance for approval as they go.”

Since the start, the northerly option has been paying handsomely, bringing plenty of breeze from all points to the two boats, Sill and Kingfisher, that can best handle upwind work. The offwind-orientated Finot boats have been finding the upwind conditions very tiresome and the battle to keep those boats racing is getting harder.

However, race weather router Ken Campbell believes that next week will favour those in the south. Whether Gartmore and Fila are still in a position to take full advantage is another matter. For Brad van Liew, onboard Gartmore, the news is long overdue. “We have been looking far down the road and planning a strategy that we hope will bring us back into the hunt. This morning the first of those tactical ploys seem to be working. We are making good speed and course.”

“We ripped our mainsail three days ago,” said Stefano Pelizza, crew onboard Fila. “It’s a three metre rip between the second and third reef, and because the sail is wet we have no way of fixing it. For the last three days we have been sailing with a headsail and three reefs in the mainsail, and it’s not very fast for us.”

Ecover, another Finot flyer, is also suffering with minor damage but Saturday brought something far more serious. “We noticed the pin that secures the deck spreader at the base of the mast was working itself out, and so we had to drop the sails, stop the boat and fix it,” said crew Graham Tourell yesterday. “In fact it all went quite smoothly and we don’t think we lost much ground to the other boats.”

Skipper Mike Golding appreciated a bizarre spares dilemma: “It seems that the grub screw has sheered so we have lashed over the top of the pin and wedged it down with a wooden kitchen spoon – we had no wedges but strangely do have a spare wooden spoon. Planning gone mad?”