As forecast, lighter than usual conditions just ahead of the fleet have provided an effective re-start of leg 3, just after the four IMOCAs reached the halfway point of the longest stage in the history of the race.
These are unusual conditions for the ‘Furious 50s’, the waters in the latitudes south of 50-degrees where strong winds and towering seas are the norm.
But on Friday, on the 19th day of racing, the teams are racing in much easier conditions, separated by just 30 nautical miles, and Team Holcim-PRB has seen a lead that at one point had stretched to 600 miles, now cut to less than ten.
Skipper Kevin Escoffier knows his fate is largely due to weather conditions outside his control – a brick wall of light winds to the east that slows the leader more than the chasing pack. But he also feels his team could have been sailing better this week.
“I think we are not as focussed or precise in terms of how we are sailing compared to before,” he said. “We’ve discussed this and now we are back to how we were doing it earlier. Things like having small debriefings after each watch, writing down our goals each time, it’s essential to do that.
“As for Malizia, we haven’t been looking that much at them because they do not have the same wind as us for a few days now…”
Boris Herrmann’s Malizia team is only 7 miles out of the lead and thirty miles to the north, having gained over thirty miles in the past 24 hours.
“It has been our plan to be in the north so we have the ability to come down at a good angle to the ice exclusion zone,” said Nico Lunven on Team Malizia. “With this wind speed it is quite nice. But it is already getting a bit light closer to the high pressure.”
This is something the entire fleet will deal with over the weekend. But the benign conditions are also an opportunity for boat checks and repairs.
“The next few days will be progressively lighter and not to be blunt, but we have a lot of work to do on Malama,” was the update from 11th Hour Racing Team media crew Amory Ross, as the team plans to repair its mainsail and at least one rudder.
The light winds will dominate the forecast this weekend, with relief coming early in the week.
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