Flat calms or howling gales, Roland Jourdain’s Sill is still the boat to beat

Roland Jourdain’s Sill crossed the finish line of the second leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge at exactly 0300 this morning to maintain its winning record in this exciting challenge for crewed Open 60s. “We are tired, wet and happy,” said a bedraggled Jourdain.

Throughout this gruelling leg and the previous light airs one, the race viewer has shown that Jourdain and his crew consistently make the right decision, establish clear air and then control the race. Having established a lead of two miles at the Dover Strait, Sill was positioned between Kingfisher and the finish as they tacked in unison right the way along the Sussex coast.

Fifty-four minutes later, Ellen MacArthur’s Kingfisher stormed across the line to take second place again. With eyelids drooping, MacArthur said “We had a great battle against Sill.”

Co-skipper Nick Moloney was still coming to terms with an arduous and potentially dangerous second leg: “It was a mission driving this boat through the shipping channels,” said the Australian Whitbread veteran. “Whose idea was that anyway?”

Crew and mentor Mark Turner was more descriptive. “It wasn’t too bad,” he said. “We saw close to 50 knots for about five hours after Dover. We were just exploding in a ball of spray each time we hit a wave.”

The boats moored at the popular Gunwharf Quays development in Old Portsmouth and, after a quick champagne shower, the crews gratefully left for their hotel beds to catch up on some much needed sleep.

As the morning brightened, it was Josh Hall’s Gartmore that took third place five miles and 54 minutes ahead of Mike Golding’s Ecover, fourth. At 1250, Scarabelli’s Fila was entering the Solent with six miles to the finish while Helena Darvelid’s AlphaGraphics was over 30 miles from Portsmouth. Their leg was jeopardised when their electrics went down, leaving them without essential navigational aids while shooting the Dover Strait.

The other big story of the leg is the retirement of Loic Pochet’s La Rage de Vivre. Concerned about loosening keel bolts on his 1996 vintage Open 60, Pochet opted to retire from this leg and head for Calais. Money has been a problem and morale was low but the team was expecting to collect a new suit of sails in Portsmouth in the hope of being competitive on the next leg, across the Atlantic.

The chances of them repairing their boat and making it to Portsmouth in time for the start of the third leg on Saturday are nil. They have retired from the EDS Atlantic Challenge.