Lighter winds Slow the Fleet..
At the front the race is well an truly on to be first boat in to Rodney Bay, as both Lady in Red and Spirit of Diana try for maximum speed in the falling wind strength.
Current speeds should see both yachts arriving inside the existing course record of 12 days 18 hours and 20 minutes. However with just 6 miles separating them it could still be either boat finishing first.
Further back in the ARC fleet, the strong winds, which earlier reaped a harvest of broken sails, have now been replaced by much lighter variable F2-3 winds. The lighter breeze is a relief for some crews but a hardship for others. 'We've now blown out all our spinnakers and are considering our options: motoring or sewing!" said Northern Winds skipper Bob Demati yesterday (Wednesday).
However, for skipper Melvyn Percy of X-612 Miriam, the light conditions are a blessing. A broken boom-vang meant that they have been unable to use their mainsail, and as a result their boat speed had fallen right down. However, Melvyn and his crew are now able to make good progress again using just their spinnaker or light-weight drifter, and are back up to 10 knots again.
In other news from the fleet, Prima 38 Talisman had been unable to give their position for some days due to a problem with their satellite telephone. Via a relay from another yacht yesterday, all a reported well and enjoying their crossing.
Aboard Challenge Adventure Sailing yacht Challenge 23, they have also been without a spinnaker for the last few days. "It is so frustrating" said skipper Phillipe Falle yesterday. "We have had to watch as over the last couple of days our sister ship "CGU" has pulled 24 miles ahead of us."
Without a spinnaker to keep his crew occupied, Phillipe and the crew has been working on an alternative entertainment programme. Judging the cake baking competition is favorite with the skipper. Also, plans are in hand for special nautical edition of "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire". Competition is expected to be fierce, although no one has yet worked out how to "phone a friend", or who will put up the prize money! At a more practical level, the fine sunshine and calmer seas have prompted renewed interest in learning astro-navigation. The yacht's sextant has been brought out and morning instruction sessions are held ready for the crew to practice on the noon meridian.
Coping with the heat is also a problem in tropical latitudes Crewmember Rachel Davies on CGU says "Even if we had no GPS, (a satellite navigation system) we could tell we are getting closer by the temperature. Yesterday hitting 41?C! " In fact it is so hot, that skipper John Burfitt says Rachel has taken up residence in the forward sail locker, one of the cooler albeit bumpier parts of the boat, in preference to her bunk!