HIGH PRESSURE HELL
After recording some of the fastest 24 hour runs of the race on leaving Charleston SC (USA) for the start of ocean sprint four on Saturday, the fleet of four Eco 60s in the VELUX 5 OCEANS have reached the end of the high speed gulf stream highway. The reason is the large high pressure system sitting off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, which has seen the temperature drop and the fog close in on the ocean racers.
With the arrival of light airs, leg and race leader Brad Van Liew has extended his lead over second placed Chris Stanmore-Major. The American skipper, who had been concerned that his boat Le Pingouin would be overhauled by the charging British skipper on Spartan as he posted speeds in excess of 20 knots, has succeeded in holding onto the top spot - for now. Locked in a battle for second place overall in the race, Derek Hatfield continues to hold a 50 mile advantage over Polish competitor Zbigniew ‘Gutek’ Gutkowski.
Speaking from Active House, currently in third place and 75 miles behind Van Liew, the Canadian race veteran concluded, “I prefer to be in this position right now and protect my position between Gutek and the finish line. It's a bit more pressure of course – Brad would tell you about it – but it's easier than having to be the hunter. We have about 12 knots of wind and we're doing 10 knots of boatspeed upwind. And it's starting to be foggy. We are actually going to have a lot of fog in the next two days as we are sailing north in a high pressure system straight to Halifax. We're only 150 miles from my house. It's strange for me to be so close from home. ETA for La Rochelle is about 9 to 10 days from now because we are slowed by this high pressure system for two days."
Stanmore-Major, who is on the final leg on his way to completing his first solo circumnavigation, added, “About 6 hours ago the fog for which this area is famous closed in and since then my world has been 60ft x 20ft plus the mere hundred yards more I can see beyond that. The water temperature dropped ten degrees in as many miles this morning and suddenly the world beyond Spartan's deck spreaders became white and formless. Tactically this next section is difficult with no apparent way through the high pressure ahead except a saw-tooth arc to the North gybing and gybing again close to the coast of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton and then Newfoundland”
Gutek remains in contention 120 miles behind Brad but is going up the mast today to make repairs. More news tomorrow on how Gutek gets on going up the mast for the fourth time this race – no mean feat.