They’ve sailed over 2,000 miles and there are a mere five miles separating the leading two boats.
This is definitely close racing, as Sill Plein Fruit hangs on to her very tenuous lead over Kingfisher. Making the racing even more interesting is that ECOVER is within striking distance of the leaders.
According to John Keating, EDS Atlantic Challenge Race Office Manager, the top three boats are at the same latitude, 45N at the latest polling schedule. "Between the 07:44 GMT and 10:44 GMT poll, Sill has not made progress towards Baltimore," Keating said. In fact, her DTF went into the minus zone. "We could attribute this to drift, but what has happened is that Sill sailed 16 miles southeast and ended up three miles further away [from Baltimore]." Kingfisher, on the other hand, sailed due south 27 miles and is 15 miles closer to Baltimore, closing the distance to Sill to a scant five miles; almost hailing distance.
ECOVER, the other boat in this race-within-a-race, is doing something different. In the radio call this morning, skipper Mike Golding said, " We tried something new last night," and it seems to be paying off. Watching the three-hourly polls, they have used this information to their advantage and sailed due west 17 miles, making 16 miles towards Baltimore, putting her within spitting distance of Sill, 64 miles ahead and Kingfisher, just 59 miles up front. With the new weather system ahead, which all the skippers have said will be very tricky, Golding declined to give an indication on his next move. He said, "The big depression ahead will engulf us," and they will position themselves to make the best of it.
Further south, Gartmore is right on target for Baltimore, according to skipper Josh Hall. Sailing directly into headwinds of 30-32 knots, he said, "We are bored with this [crashing and banging.] It's a little uncomfortable." He said they are looking at another two days of these conditions. Always in good spirits, he laughed saying how much he enjoyed having the rest of the crew with him. "It [this kind of weather] is soul destroying when you are on your own."
Far to the south, the AlphaGraphics team is enjoying wonderful sailing. "It's perfect sailing," enthused skipper Helena Darvelid. "It's the kind of sailing you dream of -- days and days of excellent weather." Earlier today, they gybed over to a 220-degree heading as Darvelid said they were slowing down a bit, possibly getting too close to the high pressure system north of them. She was jubilant as she said, "We are taking miles off Josh [Hall] because he is beating the weather."
But Keating said they must heat it up to get into Baltimore on time. "They need those 10 knots to get them there," he said. Every move they make further south is "costing them dearly," he said. He has estimated their arrival in Baltimore to be around 5 August, but Darvelid is estimating two days earlier, on the third.