Progress is slow as the fleet points to the finish

At the current rate of progress Ericsson 3 should be coming into view at some point this afternoon – day 40 (25 March). By the 16:00 GMT position report yesterday, the Nordics were limping along in double-digit wind speeds … just. Their lead over Ericsson 4 stood at 79 miles. PUMA was a further 100 miles back.

The slow progress has brought about a shortage in food and supplies, and a need to ration – especially for the leading boats. However, while the majority of the fleet copes with famine and bare necessities, there is a feast on board Telefonica Blue, according to skipper Bouwe Bekking. Unlike their counterparts, the Spaniards’ supplies are plentiful. In fact Bekking’s tongue in cheek reports claim that his crew are positively gorging themselves:

“I haven’t seen a single day that Gabry (Olivo) did not have to throw out leftovers. Maybe the cuisine is too luxurious. Always two choices for warm plates, so our two eskies (coolboxes) have never seen the bottom. I can imagine that some boats have to start scraping their food together by now, but l’m happy that we are not running out.”

On Ericsson 4, meanwhile, there are bears with sore heads, writes navigator Jules Salter:

“The boat certainly smells like a bear cage and the hairy, grumpy, dominant males in this cage seem to be starting to exhibit some tendencies of bears with sore heads. There seems to be a lot more growling, patrolling up and down and scavenging anything they can from the food bag. A teddy bear’s picnic it is not.”

Apart from the thought of grown men growing bigger on Telefonica Blue, for fourth placed Green Dragon there is no comfort to be had in the fact that the Blue boat is creeping ever closer on the approach to Rio. The Dragons are stuck on a more westerly route to the finish, and are surrendering miles.

Their current boat speed is down to one knot, while Telefonica Blue has a lavish 4-5. The advantage has shrunk to 60 miles and Bekking sniffs an opportunity.

“We made some nice gains today, who knows what is going to happen in the next 48 hours, we might have a surprise comeback compared to the Dragons, who we suspect are pushing more current than the maps show,” he said.

“I was speaking with Jono (Jonathan Swain) about this, in one race we saw up to four knots against us in the area where they are sailing and the guys offshore sailed right around us. They are still well ahead, but it will be a good laugh if we could manage to pass them.” Not sure Ian Walker would get the joke.”