Day 3

Leading Monohull: Whirlpool-Europe2, Chabaud & Bartissol

Total distance: 4,500 miles

Distance to go: 3767.1miles

Latest news: At 1210 today the Open 60 ketch JPG Defis 14 PME turned back for France. Skippers Laurent & Etevenard had reported several technical faults and water leakage in the boat – not presenting major problems but with the impending storm conditions ahead they decided not to take any risks.

In the North Whirlpool/Europe 2 have extended their lead by a further 20 miles over Somewhere-Baume &Mercier (2nd) and Aquitaine-Kingfisher (3rd). All the skippers are trying to maximise on sleep before the winds hit – at the end of today a S/SW rising wind will bring the first of the bad weather. 50 knot winds are predicted when the depression hits tommorrow.

Yves Parlier on Aquitaine Innovations interviewed by the race organisers at 1200 said: “This is the calm before the storm: huge swell, cloudy skies and desperately awaiting the wind. Our route further south is involuntary, but I have never seen such a weather forecast in my life – force 11 with extremely tough conditions – the sea will just be enormous. This will engulf the whole Atlantic, and although the waves will be dangerous, they do not unnerve me. We are going further south at a rate of 10 knots, and expect the storm to hit in the next 48hrs.”

His crew for the race Ellen MacArthur confirmed this in her report from on board: “Frustrating night. Wind carried on fine till yesterday evening, then slowly died on us. I was on watch at about 0000hrs, nicely tootling along at 6 knots, when suddenly there was that feeling that someone had ‘shut the wind door!’ There was no wind, in fact, worse, there was that fine completely drenching drizzle… the drizzle where although it’s not really raining, you still have water trickling down your neck.

“It was a cold night, the chilly wet air clinging to you. Aquitaine-Kingfisher was unhappy, not going anywhere, sails slapping from one side to the other.. She was seemingly jumping around under our feet. She had nowhere to go.. without the wind she was stuck fast, glued to the rolling swell spilling out from the pending depression across the ocean…

“Now things are at least a little warmer. We’re lying in third position, Whirlpool and Somewhere are in front… luckily not so far. Whirlpool has sped off… seemingly going for the northern route! Yves and I are both well, not too tired (although I had a coffee this morning so must have been feeling it). Yesterday was the magic day of the Satcom B. We transmitted TV, and what seemed even more incredible..we received about 20 weather images… all through FTP. Absolutely amazing, and extremely fast!!”

From on board Gartmore Investment Managers Josh Hall writes:

1300z 45.44N 10.13W crs 200T spd 10kts wind 18-25 SW’ly

We have certainly had a mixed bag of weather the past 24hrs.Yesterday afternoon the wind fell very light so sea-snail pace ensued.It was clear and sunny which made for a pleasant sail and a chance to catch up on some kip…or was it ketchup on the chips, can’t remember. Alex was initiated into the Gartmore Brunch Special – garlic and onion omelette and was very polite about it too!

Squally conditions with heavy rain were the main feature of the night which kept us busy reefing in and out- normally just as one of us dropped off for a doze which was a bit testing. Not half as testing as the way we were becalmed at dawn for about four hours. However, we have no complaints about the weather – normally at this time of year we should have faced a hard beat into the wind all the way from the start to Cape Finesterre.

Alex has come down with a bit of a cold and I managed to slice my finger open while fixing some alternator wires, so he does my dressings and I make sure he has a hot water bottle and keeps his slippers on down below.

We are sent the fleet positions every six hours and recognise that our placing