The Rolex Fastnet sailors have been slogging upwind, but the big boats have at last managed to break away from the IMOCAs, headed by Mike Slade’s 100 foot supermaxi ICAP Leopard, ahead of Karl Kwok’s Farr 80 Beau Geste and Niklas Zennstrom’s Judel-Vrolijk 72, Ran 2. “We expect the breeze to come down a little bit, particularly once we have rounding the rock and are heading back. So, we have to be careful we don’t fall in a hole,” Slade said “but the boat is loving this bouncy stuff. We are going at 11.75-12 knots doing about 42deg TWA, and we are enjoying ourselves. I am looking forward to a beer in Plymouth, but I will have to wait a day and a half I have the feeling! The breeze is going to fill in behind us once we are round the Rock. It looks like it will fill in for the next day and half to two days and it will bring the small boats in on handicap.”
In the IMOCA class our favorite Sam Davies, with Sidney Gavignet on board Artemis Ocean Racing, rounded Lands End in the lead, but only four miles separated her from Marc Guillemot’s Safran and Pindar.
Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss was a long way off, some 47 miles behind the leaders. Volvo Ocean Race navigator Simon Fisher explained from on board Team Pindar: “Big picture, the wind is going to come around to the northwest eventually. So we are off to the right in the hope that we have a nice shift, while trying to get into the best position relative to the other boats around us, in order to make the most of that.”
Among the smaller Class 40s, last night was make or break according to how rapidly you could overcome the foul tide. When the wind shut down Initiatives Saveurs-Novedia Group was one of a mass of boats that were forced to deploy their anchor to prevent themselves behind sluiced east back up the course by the tide. “Just before Portland Bill, we had to anchor in 45m of depth, but only for half an hour – the wind kicked in again, so it was not too bad.” recounted French skipper Tanguy de LaMotte. De LaMotte reckons it was a lot worse for others. “The guys who were inshore had really big trouble to get wind and they had to wait for longer, so I think that is where we got up front.” Photo from Artemis and plenty more here.