The movers and shakers overnight Monday to yesterday were Hull & Humber, Nova Scotia and Qingdao. All three posted better than average 12-hour runs. With generally light winds across the area, these three benefited from a narrow band of slightly stronger wind that only lasted a short period of time but gave them another ten miles towards the finish.
“The race is set for the next sprint to the gate, and we are in hot battle with Nova Scotia,” said Qingdao’s skipper, Marcus Cholerton-Brown. “All day we have been at each other in very light and variable winds, but by nightfall we had gained the upper hand. Hull & Humber seems to be the next target, but we can rest assured Nova Scotia will keep coming at us.”
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The team on Hull & Humber know they are in the other crews’ sights. “We’re doing all we can to keep Hull & Humber moving in light winds to the revised finish line at the second gate,” said skipper Danny Watson.
It just shows how fickle the winds are becoming as Jamaica, who have taken the middle road, and were less than 100 nautical miles away from the lead group, have not benefitted from this additional pressure and have had a terrible 12 hours, making only 17 miles towards the finish.
Many of the skippers are reporting massive wind holes that appear to grab hold of the boat and trap them for hours with no boat speed before a slight increase in wind allows the very smallest of boat speed to be generated.
Durban 2010 and Beyond appears to have benefited slightly from their inshore route but this is probably too little too late. Meanwhile Liverpool 08, although still in last place, continues with her offshore route and is always threatening the back of the fleet.
The course for Race 9 has been shortened due to the lighter than expected winds en route to Panama City, threatening the fleet’s scheduled transit through the Panama Canal. With the fleet currently logging 12-hour runs of between just 17 and 48 nautical miles and the winds forecast to remain light before building as headwinds, the race committee has decided to use the pre-determined Gate Angel, approximately 140 nautical miles ahead of the lead boats, to finish the race.
It is expected that the first teams will finish today with the remaining teams finishing over the following 24-36 hour period. After finishing, each of the teams will motor sail to Panama with the first boats expected to arrive in Panama City on 13 May.