After almost 30 hours at sea the bulk of the Rolex Middle Sea fleet had yet to pass through the notoriously difficult Straits of Messinaby yesterday evening.
With the prospect of the wind decreasing during the early hours of Monday morning, the tidal gate at Messina may prove a critical factor in determining the outcome of this year's race.
The wind north of Sicily is predicted to strengthen during the course of Monday, and any yacht delayed passing through the Straits on Sunday may find it difficult to make up the distance lost to the leaders even on corrected time.
At the time of writing, those yachts known to be through are:
Nautor Challenge, VOR60, EUR1
Tonnerre de Breskens, Lutra 52, NED27
Market Wizard, J-109, MLT1090
Strait Dealer, J-125, MLT1250
Maltese Falcon, First 40.7 MLT407
Albablu, Farr 40, USA40040 (Italy)
Grande Cesare, Canard 41 ITA4102
Elusive, First 45f5. MLT602
These yachts are known to be beating in a 12 knot northerly towards the Volcanic island of Stromboli.
It has not all been plain sailing. At about 10.00 a.m. on Sunday, the yacht, Softy, reported sighting Ville de St. Tropez under jury rig and later on the French yacht confirmed her retirement having lost her mast during the previous night.
The Italian yacht, Flit, has also retired whilst another Italian yacht, Balue, has had to offload a sick crew member at Acitrezza. Balue has been given permission by the race committee to continue racing following this emergency action.
The wind is forecast to turn north westerly on Monday, building to force 4 - 5 by the afternoon. This will be favourable to the leading yachts as they head past the Aeolian Islands towards the western tip of Sicily.