Midway in their escape from the Channel, the six monohulls are on a direct course at an average of 10 knots, pushed along by a favourable north wind. Bonduelle has snatched back the lead just ahead of Ecover.
At midday on Monday, after a quiet, wet night, the competitors in this 1000 milles de Calais had covered half the Channel and were sailing with wind on the beam level with the Cherbourg and Weymouth. The fleet are divided fairly equally between the two coastlines after the options taken under the cover of darkness.
Delighted with their first night at sea, the majority of the crews contacted at the radio session were revelling in the appearance of the sun as they glided across flat seas. Just 16.6 miles separate the leader from the rear of the fleet who are racing in a stable 10 to 12 knot northerly. The current is continuing to influence the ranking along with the effects of the land and the threat of a drop in the wind.
The brand new Lombard design, Bonduelle is back in front and sailing within sight of Owen/Clarke designed Ecover. The British crew are enjoying the great opportunity to test out various technical aspects of their sailing so as to optimise their onboard manoeuvres according to round the world veteran, Brian THOMPSON at the radio session. South of the former leader PRB, the tandem has doubtless made the most of a more favourable current though PRB's skipper Vincent RIOU is far from out of the match, just 1.5 miles behind.
Roland JOURDAIN aboard Sill is the closest to the British coast and admitted to having slept a great deal during the night and spent time doing DIY rather than consulting their weather charts. "We've just put the drill away as we had one or two jammers to install. We've also been doing a bit of plumbing as the water is never where you want it with the ballasts! It's really something to sail on the boat and see the guys sleeping like babies, including me. We were very tired and a bit stressed prior to the start but I'm ready to get back to the office now. It's great news that Bonduelle is up front, especially as we're sisterships!"
Virtually opposite Sill and practically alone in its southerly option, fourth placed Virbac admitted to having up to 17 knots of wind last night. They're hoping for an easterly wind shift to kick in and scoop them into the lead as they head out of the channel.
Finally, Arcelor Dunkerque, is bringing up the rear on a fairly mid-course trajectory. The oldest boat in the fleet is clearly suffering from a speed deficit in relation to its rivals but it is still hanging on in there less than twenty miles behind the leader.