B&Q's lead slips to under four days to just 3 days 21 hours and 6 minutes this morning. Ellen has held a 4-5 day advantage for over a week, since day 41 [2000 miles away from Cape Horn] but to put some perspective on the situation - less than 2 weeks ago, on day 30, her advantage stood at 1 day and 6 hours, and that was her biggest lead so far in this record attempt. In our comparison of Ellen's and the record track, Francis JOYON has continued his strong runs up to Cape Horn which he rounds today, albeit after seeing his Solent headsail come crashing down in to the water, taking him five hours to recover on to the deck. Meanwhile Ellen has passed to the north of 40S, a big landmark in terms of returning to 'civilisation'.
High pressure ahead causing added stress, as Ellen pushes B&Q north as fast as possible to avoid getting stuck in a ridge of high pressure that is moving east from Uruguay. Commanders Weather Station have been telling her to get north of 32-33 degrees south by Monday afternoon to avoid having to fight through the windless zone, but they are expecting that she will have to deal with 5-10 knot winds for a period tomorrow. For now, the winds are shifting more into the WSW in the next few hours and diminishing through to midday - if the breeze stays more in the west, then Ellen will be looking to gybe NNE this morning and that certainly looks to be the case from the latest boat data - showing wind direction from the west [279 degrees] and heading just south of east [102 degrees], so we can expect to see Ellen gybe B&Q soon. After 1800gmt, the breeze is expected to move more into the WNW and increase and that should let Ellen sail a more north-easterly direct course to tackle the area of no wind that could stall progress tomorrow.
Weather Analysis From Commanders' Weather 0600 GMT:
Fairly strong SW flow that we saw Saturday will be coming down today and the trend will be for substantially less wind during the latter part of Sunday night. High pressure over Uruguay will be edging east and this will bring the lighter air east with it. Will be coming east for a time early today and then we'll gybe to the NNE and NE as the wind clocks this morning. Should be able to maintain reasonably good wind speeds until near and north of 35s.
Big hurdle coming up on Monday will be the light air associated with the high. The high will be out around 32-33s/47-48w and continuing to head east. We plan to come on the east side of it and stay in as much breeze as we can. Crossing the ridge axis will be slow as that's where the lightest wind will be. We will head north and sail the shortest distance across this light wind area.
Once past the high, wind should become SE and pick up for a time. We then will have to deal with a weakening and stalling front off to the NE.
Key Data Day 49 0710 GMT:
Distance ahead: 1,275 miles
Time ahead: 3 days 21 hours 6 minutes [representing 16.15% of time remaining] calculated using the average speed of Joyon's time around the world.