Leading yachts enjoy spectacular Trade Winds sailing on day 3 of ARC 30/11/06

Already some of the leading yachts on the ARC – those sailing the rhumb line course – have slowed after yesterday’s fast 24hour runs as they move into an area of less pressure, and a distinctive split is forming between the northern and southern groups.

Though it means sailing a longer course, yachts opting for the more southerly route closer to the Cape Verde Islands seem to be holding the wind at present. Chatting about yesterday’s conditions Colin Hall, skipper of British Oyster 53 Boysterous said: “This is what we came for? Champagne sailing in the Trade Winds. We’re bowling along at 8 knots on 259 degrees true, heading straight for St Lucia.”

The crew of Nicholson 32 Compromise decided that perhaps their Atlantic crossing was not quite the ‘milk run’ that some talk of commenting: “The seas are sloppy, forcing the boat into an undignified waggling dance. During the night we surfed out a squall with all canvas set, but popped some of our mainsail sliders as in the process.”

Elsewhere in the fleet skipper Mark Vernon aboard Lagoon 440 Maverick Dream was amongst several competitors reporting damage to sails and systems. “Our spinnaker has finally given up the ghost, ripping beyond repair for us – a combination of 26 knot gust and a large wave pushed us sideways, and before I could get up to alter course it had caught on something sharp and ripped to shreds.”

Reports of more news of gear failure came from Swedish sailor Petter Barve, owner of Bluesette who said: “Whoever said an Atlantic crossing on a small sailboat would be boring should be fed to the fish. We have been repeatedly gybing our spinnaker and finally ripped it into pieces. At night we have dodged sailing and fishing vessels; dolphins have orchestrated a jumping show for us; the ARC SSB net has consumed time and throughout this our 19 year old star chef Alexander has been turning out three course dinners with ocean fresh sushi and ceviche from the 25kg dorado we landed today.”

Almost all the 225 ARC yachts are now at sea, with late starters Be-Bop-A-Lula reporting their departure from Las Palmas at 1530 today. Only one straggler now remains, German yacht Spica who put into Puerto Mogan on Gran Canaria for unspecified repairs yesterday.