LOCATION: 300 miles NW of Azore Islands (Debate of morning: pronounced Ay-zoors, or ah-Zoors?)
WINDSPEED: 19.2 kts
BOATSPEED: 20.3 kts
DISTANCE TO FINISH: 1,000 miles
One thousand miles to go, and what a thousand miles it is shaping up to be. The last 24 hours have been fast and fun, but they’ve seen a continued compression of the fleet front to back, and that should only continue until we all arrive at what looks to be a seemingly impenetrable wall of light air just west of Lisbon. It is exciting to think that after sailing 3,500 miles across the Atlantic Ocean this leg could well restart with just 100 to go, and with Groupama, Telefónica, and now Abu Dhabi squandering breakaway leads due to unfavorable weather, the thrills look set to continue until the end.
Once over 90 miles to our east, Abu Dhabi is now just 30 away, and as we’ve brought the stronger winds to them, the guys to our southwest are doing the same to us; at some point we could all line up south to north. Fortunately, the exciting 15-25 knots of wind are forecasted to last at least another day – a final chance to gain some leverage to the north – because when the front begins to overtake us it should again favour the boats further north while lifting and lightening the southern pack.
Making the tactics all the more complicated is the proximity of the trough to the finish. Because there are only about 100 miles to sail after punching through, there’s just not enough runway to make up for miles spent diverting far north or south of rhumbline in search of an optimal point of transit. In other words, if this ridge were mid-Atlantic you could aim and sail for a narrow band 100 miles north of where you were, no problem, but to do that for this ridge would mean you would essentially double your distance to the finish, having to sail an additional 100 miles on the other side, too. So we’re all going to be forced to stay relatively conservative in our approach and execution, staying closer to the actual course to Lisbon than what might otherwise be most advantageous.
In other news, we’re finally back to the teeming seas. Wildlife has been strangely elusive over the last few legs, but the North Atlantic is living up to its aquarium-ness and we’re seeing plenty of whales, dolphin, and midnight phosphorescents. It’s an amazing sight, to be doing 22 knots over the water with a pod of large whales pacing you at your side, every time they break the surface for air the sea erupts in a massive explosion of water. Incredible animals and watching them play around out here you wonder what it must be like at the top of the food chain, no real predators and nothing but the world’s oceans to roam. Sounds a bit like our MAR MOSTRO!
“The race has come good, eh!?” – Ryan Godfrey