Green Dragon negotiate three icebergs during the night en route to ice gate

At 50 degrees south, Green Dragon has seen ice (see left). Skipper Ian Walker estimated three bergs were 100 metres across and the size of a football pitch. The boat passed two to windward and one to leeward. “I noticed this morning that a few more people are now wearing survival suits and we have made a point of closing all the water tight doors,” Ian noted.

Daylight came as a relief to the crew who have now gybed north towards the safety of the gate that was supposed to keep the fleet away from ice. “Whilst I would love to see an iceberg in the daylight, I will be more than happy not to see any more ice in this race,” added Ian.

Meanwhile, in the drag race to the ice gate, Ericsson 3 – the freight train at the head of the fleet – is beginning to slow as she drops off the weather system that abandoned the chasing pack yesterday. Her average speed is down to 13 knots allowing small gains to be made by Ericsson 4, PUMA and Green Dragon.

“The next week of sailing has the potential to be the most exciting of the whole race,” commented Puma skipper Ken Read. “We are in a neck and neck race with Ericsson 4, and, as for Ericsson 3, well anything might happen.”

Read reports that PUMA is blasting along between 18 and 24 knots and that the boat is jumping around and banging in the most violent way imaginable.

Not so for Telefónica Blue who is trapped by light airs in the south. Helmsman Simon Fisher wrote, “sadly, it has been another slow day for us and things seem to be set to stay that way as a ridge of high pressure is extending out in front of us, putting up a wall between us and the leaders.”

Telefónica Blue continues her fight, but is averaging only 10 knots and is now nearly 800 nm adrift of the leaders. “Even with all the optimism in the world, it is starting to get a little frustrating now,” Fisher added.

As soon as the leading pack are clear of the ice gate, the race south will begin and with it, for them, will come some tactical options.