Still 100 miles to go till the Dover mark and then another 22 miles to the finish line off the port of Calais in NE France. A trifling amount for an ocean racer used to devouring the miles, but an eternity in the teasing wind.
Behind the leader and shadowing RIOU around 35 miles back, Jérémie BEYOU (FRA) and Delta Dore are now up to second place, with Jean LE CAM's (FRA) VM Matériaux dropping back a further 10 miles. For this third edition of the Calais Round Britain Race, which at 14:30 this afternoon will begin its tenth day, the suspense of ETAs is still the keynote.
The countdown is on, but when it will stop is anybody's guess. One thing is certain: RIOU, on the ninth night at sea, has played his hand beautifully, controlling his adversaries perfectly. 'There is a colony of snails [slow boats] at the entrance to the straight. It's freezing, we can't see anything and we're not making any headway. There is nothing attractive about these types of sailing conditions. The westerly wind is settling in gradually and should build. We're still hoping to arrive in the latter part of the afternoon.'
Leader since last Wednesday, PRB is no longer being tailed by VM Matériaux but instead for the very first time by Delta Dore. 'We played a nice hand offshore,' said skipper BEYOU. 'We decided we weren't going to play the angle anymore but rather the pressure. It worked. Right now we have 10 knots of wind, we're making headway down the course, but it's not over yet.' Positioned behind but in line with PRB, Delta Dore may still be able to make up ground on the frontrunner, but passing him is a different matter all together.
On the other hand, positioned further inshore of his adversary, LE CAM, could only see the damage, 'He went round the outside. He played a good hand. We had a lot of manoeuvres again overnight. It is still cold, wet and at the moment we're becalmed. I was counting on finishing at 23:52 hours this evening but if this continues, it will be daytime when we finish.'
After a great night on Generali, they are now in seventh position just 3 miles behind the Roxy girls. Sixth or even fifth place, currently that of Jonny MALBON (GBR) on Artemis, remains the objective. 'When we saw the rankings this morning, it was absolute euphoria aboard,' said skipper Yann ELIES (FRA). 'We're going to try not to spoil everything like we did last time when we were in the same position off Ireland. We're still downwind for another 4 to 5 hours. After that the wind will shift over to the west and will be less favourable down the straight. The train isn't very fast and my current ETA is 09:00 hours tomorrow morning.'
From 17:00 hours French time this evening, the waiting will begin in Calais, with a flurry of competitors arriving throughout the night if all goes to plan!