Unpredictable winds and light airs continue to hamper the teams as the fleet struggles to clear the Canary Islands.
“I am not one for chess and yet here I am engaged in a huge game with 38-tonne pieces and a board covering many millions of square miles of water,” says Qingdao's skipper Chris Stanmore-Major. “After a good start we, along with everyone else, have met our nemesis here in the Canaries.
“Yesterday proved an interesting day with sail changes happening twice an hour through the morning and afternoon as the wind shot from 0 knots to 25 knots and back as we passed through the islands. This morning we are once again becalmed – not free yet of the pesky Canary cage but it seems to me you can't keep a dragon in a cage for long before it finds its way out.”
Similarly Eero Lehtinen, skipper of the current race leaders, Team Finland, compared the racing conditions to a game of “Ocean Bingo”. The Finnish skipper is now considering whether to trust the forecast or follow his instincts, saying, “Wind, or no wind? The expected wind, or something else? Reliable forecast, or time to believe in what you see and what you feel?
“All in all the GRIB files that we have been sent from the Race Office every 2-3 days have been amazingly accurate,” says Eero. “So much so that one has been able to make rather precise routing plans based on them. In the beginning of the race I didn't trust them, but after a couple of tough lessons I started taking a closer look!”
Less confident in the weather forecast is Cork's skipper, Richie Fearon, saying “We have just got some wind after a frustrating couple of nights and day of racing. The weather information I have is not the same as the conditions we are currently experiencing so it's been extremely annoying not being able to plan a route!”
Less frustrated is the team on board California, with the American entry continuing to experience strong winds whilst chasing down the rest of the fleet. “We're flying!” exclaims skipper Pete Rollason. “We have been busy this morning getting this boat to go as fast as she can in the right direction. We've picked up the gauntlet laid down by the fleet and we are reeling them in slowly.”
Meanwhile the crew on board Edinburgh Inspiring Capital is struggling to find any breeze at all. “No wind!” exclaims skipper Matt Pike. “Nothing! You can still trim in the lightest of wind but for the first time we have absolute zero. The sea surface is like a mirror, only being disturbed by the wake of passing dolphins. The competition between watches has moved from who can get the top surfing speed to who can achieve the best improved speed.”
The two horse race for the scoring gate between Hull & Humber and Spirit of Australia continues apace today, as each team vies for the three points that will be awarded to the first to cross. “We're expecting the Aussie's to pull their stealth mode out of the bag in the next 24 hours,” says Piers Dudin, skipper of Hull & Humber. “Kangaroo hunting season opens today on Hull & Humber seeing now it's now a bit of a two horse race. We will be keeping a close eye on the radar and the horizon to see if we can bag ourselves a roo!”
Despite holding pole position, Team Finland has made the decision not to make a run for the scoring gate, choosing instead to hold on to the more reliable breeze off the coast of North Africa. “The main problem is that the gate is situated in an area which is exactly between two different air flows,” explains Eero. “We find ourselves in pleasant north easterlies again which should last all the way to Cape Verde and beyond if we stay close enough to the African coast. Spirit of Australia and Hull & Humber are beating into a south westerly wind further west and the gate is somewhere between us. To get to the scoring gate we would spend a long time in very confused air and anyone heading that way will most likely take a knock to their progress to Rio.”
Full positions are updated every three hours and can be found at