The chase to the scoring gate has forced the lead boats to sail a wide angle and lose distance
It was close sailing at the scoring gate last night, with only 30 seconds separating Telefonica Blue and Puma, with the Spanish boat taking the points from Ken Read’s men. The pair battled side by side in the freezing northern temperatures, while Ericsson 4 edged to the south a little, and followed them across 20 minutes later. Ericsson 3 was another 30 minutes behind, holding the same advantage over Telefonica Black in fifth. Delta Lloyd crossed the line sixth, while Green Dragon was ignoring the gate for the sake of the next battle – but will pick up points for seventh at some stage.
And as soon as the leading boats were across the line, the two crews started frantically restacking the sails and gear so they could tack to port and escape a foul.
At 10:00 GMT today (19 May) the fleet was racing for the south-west corner of the ice exclusion zone. The wind speed was in the mid-teens and blowing from the south-east, which made the corner of the ice box a little less than 100 miles away and almost dead upwind. Telefonica Black had the lead, with the rest of the fleet tucked away nicely to the west and north of her.
Roger Nilson wrote from Telefonica Black this morning: “We decided yesterday not to focus on the scoring gate, instead focus on the south-west corner of the ice box. If the wind direction does not change too much, it is a possibility that the four leading boats to the north could be behind us after we are forced to tack.”
The chase to the scoring gate forced the lead boats to sail a wide, fast wind angle, giving up too much distance to windward. So once they crossed the gate, started to sail upwind and tacked to port, the three that had been going upwind for much of the previous day had gained enough distance to the south to make the pass stick.
Everyone is now faced with a 100-mile upwind slog to the corner of the ice box in some tough conditions, but fortunately it’s got a little warmer overnight as they started to hit the first swirls of the Gulf Stream.