Team Stelmar made slight gains on almost every yacht in the fleet yesterday. Crucially, Clive COSBY and his crew edged ahead of second place Barclays Adventurer ever so slightly, reporting a lead of 1nm at the 01:42 poll this mornng.
While these marginal differences are relatively academic with over 5,500nm to the finish, the pattern is repeated across the leaderboard. Only 2nm separate third placed SAIC la Jolla
and fourth placed VAIO
whilst BP Explorer, Me To You
and Spirit of Sark
are also separated by 2nm in fifth, sixth and seventh places respectively.
"This is close racing,"
wrote BP Explorer
skipper David MELVILLE yesterday, "one less than optimum decision and you can drop well back through the fleet. Fortunately the wind is back and there are plenty of miles to the finish."
The reason for losing out is not always clear, as VAIO
's Ben BEASLEY explains: "Sometimes during the race there are times when you are giving 200% to everything you are doing but still other yachts are taking miles out of you and you cannot figure out what you are doing wrong, no matter how hard you try."
Teams have been known to systematically investigate every reason possible, finding it difficult to believe how other teams have stripped miles from them in a competitive one-design fleet. Luckily for Ben and the crew of VAIO
, they may have lost out yesterday but the mood onboard is focused and their progress encouraging.
"At the moment it feels that we are continuing to consistently record good six hour runs,"
continued Ben, "there is a really great tempo onboard, with good focused racing on deck and the way we're sailing at the moment feels good and quite relaxed. There's definitely a few gears left to be stepped-up as and when is required."
While Paul KELLY, skipper of Team Save the Children
, reports they are, "Taking a more northwesterly course, as the wind is due to reduce in the southwest," SAIC La Jolla
skipper Eero LEHTINEN sounds confident about remaining the most westerly team, despite the fact that winds west of the fleet appear to be becoming gradually lighter.
"We have managed to get our off the ridge of the south Atlantic high,"
he reported yesterday, "and now are enjoying perfect spinnaker conditions Our westerly route, which we stubbornly have been hanging onto, should now give us a better wind angle for days. Nice gains on whole fleet since last night, everything looking good right now."
Plenty of optimism throughout the fleet it seems…