After eleven days of intense sailing, twenty-four of The Transat 2004 competitors have yet to finish the world's toughest, single-handed transatlantic race.
Last night Giovanni SOLDINI crossed the Boston finish line at 19:26:18 GMT to take eighth place in a time of 10 days, 6 hours, 26 minutes, 18 seconds after a frustrating few final hours crawling along at 3 knots. SOLDINI was followed by Philippe MONNET on Sopra Group three hours later at 22:28:23 GMT in a time of 10 days, 9 hours, 28 minutes, 23 seconds. The third and final wave of ORMA 60ft trimarans are spread over 354 miles west/east, with Gitana XI (Fred LE PEUTREC) at the front, 194 miles from the finish, trailed by Banque Covefi (Steve RAVUSSIN) 171 miles astern and slightly to the north, with Yves PARLIER on catamaran, Mediatis Region Aquitaine, furthest south - a little under 550 miles from Boston.
The front-running IMOCA 60ft monohulls are all around 400 miles from the finish; Mike GOLDING (Ecover) continues to lead the fleet west 38 miles ahead of Dominic WAVRE (Temenos). Overnight, Swiss skipper Wavre sailed into second place in front of Mike SANDERSON (Pindar AlphaGraphics) and is currently 7 miles ahead of the New Zealander. Sanderson chose to reveal the loss of his starboard daggerboard early yesterday and this is now clearly beginning to affect the boat's performance. But the battle for Sanderson is clearly not over as the NW conditions forecast for the final stages of the race, make it possible for Pindar AlphaGraphics to stay on her starboard tack (using the port daggerboard) in the final 427 miles to Boston.
The respite in the weather conditions for the front runners have meant that the skippers can continue working through the long job list of repairs that are a result of the "conditions of this type of race"
said Golding. "In this weather you can actually operate on deck which has not been possible up until now,"
commented Golding. If Golding maintains his lead, he expects to arrive in Boston on Sunday (13.6.04): "if the forecast averages out correctly we should arrive at the approximate ETA..."
which is currently for 1400 GMT on Sunday.
Behind the leading three 60ft monohulls the second knot of Open 60s is lead by Nick MOLONEY (Skandia), currently position further north and 88 miles ahead of Conrad HUMPHREYS (Hellomoto). Humphreys reports that he has been becalmed for eight hours and will now be hunting for the next weather pattern to keep Moloney in sight. To the south of Humphreys, about 70 miles further east, French monohulls Pro-Form (Marc THIERCELIN) and UUDS (Herve LAURENT) are in seventh and eighth position, close together and continuing their chase of the Anglo-Swiss-Kiwi-Australian leaders.
In the 50ft multihull class, Trilogic (Eric BRUNEEL) furthest south at 41 degrees has increased his lead over second place GiFi (Dominique DEMACHY) to 190 miles during the night and Great American II (Rich WILSON), in third place, is keeping pace with Demachy's cruising catamaran.
Meanwhile, the 50ft monohull, all-American leadership struggle continues as a big north-south gap of 185 miles has divided the two front runners. Joe HARRIS (Wells Fargo-American Pioneer), to the south, has lost miles overnight to Kip STONE (Artforms) who is now leading the class by 71 miles with 852 miles to the finish line in Boston.