American skipper Tim Kent on Open 50 Everest Horizontal came smoking across the line in second place at 02:09:04 hrs local time under full sail into Tauranga against an enflamed backdrop of bush fires raging all over Mount Maunganui.
Ironic, as the inside of Tim's boat was painted thick black from the engine fumes, which had leaked uncontrollably during most of his leg. The skipper - normally renowned for his white hair and beard, was truly the 'All Black' coming into New Zealand, his face and clothes permanently stained with the soot from the diesel.
Kent has now established himself in second place overall behind Class 2 leader Brad Van Liew on Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America. Canadian Derek Hatfield on Open 40 Spirit of Canada has been his nemesis since the very start of the race, and Tim's first comment was about his relentless foe: "Derek pushed me all the way, I couldn't shake him off - there was this sound in my head each time he came near…gggggrrrrrr…like a terrier."
Spirit of Canada was just over 60 miles from the finish line when Everest Horizontal completed the leg. Derek has spent the majority of his leg pumping thousands of gallons of water out of his boat each day just to stay afloat, and yet has held tenaciously onto his third position despite an assault by fourth placed Spirit of yukoh - and kept his sense of humour: "It's giving me the best workout ever!"
he joked in one email. Hatfield's ETA is around 09:00 local time.
Japanese skipper Kojiro Shiraishi on Open 40 Spirit of yukoh is enjoying fast sailing down the East coast of New Zealand and is expected to arrive in Tauranga late Thursday afternoon. After these three Class 2 boats have arrived into port, there will only be one boat still left at sea - BTC Velocity, currently clocking 8 knots boatspeed in following winds crossing the Tasman Sea.