Last night saw Sill Plein Fruit solidify its lead over Kingfisher by 58 miles

Last night saw Sill Plein Fruit solidify its lead over Kingfisher by 58 miles. As the lead boats battle the last few hours of the gale they both are being forced to hold to a south-westerly course until better winds later let them turn right again to pursue their northerly course.

Josh Hall and his Gartmore crew have clearly cut and run for the deep south. Once again Hall has chosen to chase archrival Mike Golding aboard ECOVER than to try to compete with Sill and Kingfisher’s strong upwind abilities. However, Hall stayed up there too allowing Fila to slip in under them in fourth position.

Gartmore is now 83 miles behind ECOVER. But, Hall is within ten miles of catching Fila. Nevertheless, catching the Italian yacht will not be easy. Skipper Andrea Scarabelli is showing 11 knots of boat speed, the same as Sill, while Gartmore is poking along at only 9 knots. If Scarabelli can continue to squeeze that kind of speed out of Giovanni Soldini’s old boat ECOVER will have something besides Hall to worry about.

Back 326 miles behind leader Sill, the all woman crew aboard AlphaGraphics are continuing to sail a conservative race. Staying well clear of the rough weather farther north that might damage their older boat, they are the farthest southeast of anyone in the fleet. While saving them from the gale, it has cost them in both miles to the finish and boat speed. While the rest of the fleet sails at between 11 and 9 knots, AlphaGraphics has been sailing at just over 6 knots.

As the women sail farther south, like all the boats going around the bottom of the Azores high, they will see their distance to the finish lengthen rather than shorten for several days ahead. Together with their slower average boat speed, a point will come when their arrival time in Baltimore will become a serious concern. The start of Leg 4, Baltimore to Boston is set for noon August 5.