From the humid glaze off the horizon, the blue hull of Open 60 Tiscali came reaching in at 10 knots to the finish line in Salvador, Brazil.
Italian skipper Simone Bianchetti somersaulted from the boom as soon as he realised his first podium position in the fourth leg of Around Alone, crossing at 18:43:13 GMT (15:43:13 local time). Bianchetti has made a steady comeback from his unfortunate dismasting in Leg 2 off Northern Spain to climb up the rankings in the following two legs, and is now contesting for third place overall with 26 points - in thoery just one behind Emma Richards on Pindar.
When asked if the fact that he missed finishing within Bernard Stamm's 48 hour penalty time by 30 hours, Bianchetti was in fact relieved: "I am so happy to make this podium but also to do this properly; I really didn't want to come second because of a friend who has a penalty, that's not my spirit." This result also shows that Bianchetti is a sailor with a long term vision, as he went on to explain: "The goal was to bring my boat through the Southern Ocean in perfect condition, and I was 'speaking' to the new mast all the time. After Cape Horn everything was good so then I say 'go'! I have come a long way since the dismasting in Leg 2, and now I am going to begin the next leg fighting for the overall podium."
Not just a competitor to be reckoned with, this Italian circumnavigator is also a prolific poet at sea: "When you experience suffering, you learn more about life, and I have been through many troubles in this race; but the sea is my life and from the suffering I have come to understand more out on the ocean; that gives me inspiration to write my poems." Simone was welcomed at the CENAB by fireworks, Samba drums and dancers, and of course Dayse - dressed in full Bahian regalia - whose duty it is to give each skipper their first caipirinha.
Meanwhile, Bianchetti's closest rival, British skipper Emma Richards on Pindar was still 140 miles away, and "thinking longingly about fresh fruit and iced drinks." Her pre-dawn log was optimistic about the final push to the finish. "It's great to get some good miles in overnight. The breeze really picked up, but now as I am nearing dawn, the wind has dropped right down again and backed. I expect another repeat of the last 24 hours - a slow day ahead followed by a good evening breeze." Her ETA in Salvador is for Friday 14th March during the daytime.
American skipper Brad van Liew sailing Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America way out front in Class 2 described life on board as he lines up to finish next after Pindar. "It is damn hot - 115 degrees to be exact. Down below in the cabin it feels like a brutal steam room gone mad. On deck it is so wet that I can't stay up there for long in the upwind conditions. So I sweat it out, literally. I'm drinking at least 2 litres of water per day and I still feel dehydrated. I want air conditioning! I want a salad! I want anything cool, crisp and refreshing!" He signed his log: "Soaked, salty, and sweaty."
Derek Hatfield on Spirit of Canada and Graham Dalton on Hexagon are still in Ushuaia and Puerto Madryn respectively, working on their boats and considering their options for continuing the race. We will release any major news on these two situations, otherwise please go to the official website for regular updates from these two skippers.