It is all about tactics as the fleet head down around the wash, a fact illustrated by the battle between Ecover and Sill et Veolia, just 1.1 mile apart at the front. This evening it is also going to become physical as the three remaining boats tackle their last gale.
There are less than 150 miles left to race at now and Mike GOLDING and Ecover
are just about holding onto their lead. Since the middle of the night, the three monohulls have been making headway with 15 knots of wind on the nose as they tack down the east coast of England. It has become a real match race between Ecover
and Sill et Veolia
as they are sailing on the same tack within sight of each other. At the 0954 hours GMT poll Ecover
led by 1.1 mile, whilst Virbac-Paprec
was a further 20 miles behind.
The upwind sailing is certainly slowing the progress whilst opening up the tactical possibilities. The pursuers could well make up their deficit by using the wind shifts and changes in tide to their advantage. That is what Virbac-Paprec is trying to do as she tries her luck close to the English coast. Already Jean Pierre DICK (FRA) and his troops have made up ten miles on the leaders and remain very much in the match, though the skipper highlighted earlier that, 'each mile gained is a difficult one.'
This Saturday evening the competitors will endure their last trial of strength: a southwesterly 25 to 30 knot gale, gusting to 40 knots with very heavy, cross seas. The men and boats alike will be really put to the test.
The last hours of racing to Calais promise to be exhilarating; the competitors likely to cross the finish line on Sunday morning...the order impossible to predict...
(At 0954 hours GMT)
- Ecover, Mike GOLDING (GBR) - 135.8 miles from the finish
- Sill & Veolia, Roland JOURDAIN (FRA) - 1.1 miles behind the leader
- Virbac-Paprec, Jean Pierre DICK (FRA) - 21.0 miles behind the leader
- Bonduelle, Jean LE CAM (FRA) - Retired from race
- Cheminées Poujoulat, Bernard STAMM (SUI) - Retired from race
- Caen La Mer, Jean Baptiste DEJEANTY (FRA) - Retired from race
- Pindar Alphagraphics, Emma RICHARDS (GBR) - Retired from race