As the daylight fades, Team Tyco continues to maintain the upper hand in the light, tricky conditions
As the daylight fades, Team Tyco continues to maintain the upper hand in the light, tricky conditions.The adrenalin-fuelled crew are thriving under the pressure but the situation is quite likely to change overnight with Assa Abloy snapping at their heels and Team News Corp, Amer Sports One and illbruck looming just 10 miles away.
“It has been a frustrating few days as we have sailed in very light air (6 -7 knots) crossing a ridge of high pressure. This area needs to be crossed before we sail into the trade wind belt. We are still in the lead but have watched the fleet sail in from behind in more favorable breeze,” reported skipper Kevin Shoebridge.
“The speed differences between the boats is almost immeasurable and all gains and losses come from positioning and strength of breeze you are in,” added Shoebridge.
While Tyco can cover Assa Abloy, Shoebridge has no control over the route Team News Corp, Amer Sports One and illbruck take ten miles to the east.
Two hundred and fifty miles to the east, SEB continues to be the fastest boat in the fleet. While no-one will be concerned at this stage due to her bad positioning, the leading navigators will be keeping one eye on her progress, just in case.
For the last 24 hours, a northerly 8-10 knot breeze has gently pushed the leading five yachts – Tyco, ASSA ABLOY, News Corp, Amer Sports One and illbruck – towards the equator at a touch above the wind speed.
Giving an insight into the tensions on board, Team News Corp navigator Ross Field, who has twice won the Whitbread race, reflected: “Light airs ocean racing: this would have to be the most stressful part of ocean racing. Give me 35 knots in the Southern Ocean, dodging icebergs, blasting downhill, any time.
Adding fuel to the tactical fire, illbruck made a bold move late yesterday evening by splitting from Amer Sports One and Team News Corp to head east away from the clouds that have dogged the fleet for two days.
illbruck helmsman and trimmer Ray Davies explained: “We took a big loss to head east into better pressure and away from the suck of the breeze-sapping clouds. Hopefully we can line ourselves up for the night of clear sky or at least one the right side of the clouds, which is what it’s all about at the moment.”
But, in the far east, Marcel Van Triest’s tactics, inadvertently brought on by a pit stop off Madeira, saw the lime green SEB sail into the most favourable conditions of the fleet, running up the best 24-hour mileage bill of the day.
With progress continuing to be slower than predicted and the major hurdle of the doldrums still left to negotiate (some estimations are for a 34 day leg at present pace), the crews continue to be frugal with supplies.
All in all, no position is a done deal and with over 5,500 miles left to sail to Cape Town, South Africa, any yacht in the fleet will still find it as easy to finish last as first.
On a lighter note, the fleet had their second birthday yesterday when illbruck’s Mark ‘Crusty’ Christensen, on his third lap of the planet, sailed into his 32nd birthday. However, with the current stakes as high as they are, all celebrations will be kept on hold until the Tavern of the Seas (Cape Town).
Leg One Position Report – Day 10, 1600hrs GMT