The top three have used the cover of darkness to shift across to the direct course, the 10 to 13 knot north northeasterly wind preventing them from tracking straight towards the mark. As a result the deficits have suddenly reduced within the fleet. Between the first and last place, Maisonneuve, skippered by Alexandre TOULORGE (FRA), there are now just 65 miles. The menu for the next 36 hours is an all too familiar one: zigzagging upwind to reach 61° latitude north. After that it will be high time to drop southwards again, with an expected finish in Calais next Tuesday at best.
It is no secret, at these latitudes, the cold begins to bite when you begin to make manoeuvres on deck. 'We can see clearly though,' said RIOU on PRB, 'And the night doesn't last very long here, which is great. We've just turned back onto a northerly course again. The wind has increased so that makes us feel good. PRB is a powerful boat, designed for the breeze.' The results speak for themselves with a 6.9 mile lead over VM Matériaux, as opposed to 4.7 miles on Thursday evening at 20:00. The skippers understandably play the timing of the position reports however, RIOU leaving his easterly heading until deep into the night at around midnight, and then it was after the broadcasting of the positions at 04:00 that RIOU turned onto a northerly heading again.
Dominique WAVRE (SUI) on Temenos II and Jean LE CAM (FRA) VM Matériaux on have adopted the same tactics! 'We've just made a change of tack, with tonnes of gear to shift across to the other side. Everyone is sitting on the rail upwind. You wouldn't do it any differently in the bay of Concarneau. We still have all the canvas up, but if the wind continues to build we'll have to do something about that.' PRB and VM Matériaux have got away slightly again, now around 10 miles or so ahead. The trio of boats will pass about 10 miles west of Saint Kilda in the coming hours.
Delta Dore Moves Up
In fourth position, we no longer find the British skipper of Artemis Ocean Racing, Jonny MALBON, instead not too surprisingly the prototype Delta Dore, is continuing its fantastic comeback. MALBON and his crew have nonetheless sailed a blinder so far in this Calais Round Britain Race. 'We've got our nose to the grindstone that's for sure!' joked Pascal BIDÉGORRY (FRA) on Delta Dore. 'The frontrunners have protected the right hand side but we don't see that there's anything to be gained over there for the time being. We're waiting for the next grib files before we make a decision.'
Still heading due north with all there sail hoisted, the crew of Generali are also making a come back up into sixth place this morning. 'It's game on at the moment. The situation isn't very clear. It's up to us to make the right moves. The higher we go the more I feel like I'm in the deep south. It's bringing back lots of memories,' said skipper Yann ELIES (FRA) at the 04:00 ranking this morning. 'The atmosphere and the fauna are very similar.'
The next 36 hours will certainly be a rich learning experience for all the boats, with doubtless a number of adjustment to the ranking prior to the passage of the Shetlands around Saturday.