Third placed Estonian Uku Randmaa has survived his last storm – 50knot winds and vicious 5m high seas – on Tuesday. The winds have now receded but the leftover Atlantic swell remains as his Rustler 36 One and All heads into the Bay of Biscay today. With 300 miles to go, Race HQ is now predicting a 09:00 UTC finish off Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday March 10.
For this 56-year-old solo circumnavigator, his homecoming could not come soon enough. He is out of food, and has not seen his wife and very young children for more than 8 months. It will be a warm embrace followed by a dash to get his first square meal since rounding Cape Horn on January 19. He joked with Race organisers yesterday: “My boat is for sale. Any reasonable offer, but without food.”
He is promised a strong welcome in Les Sables d’Olonne led by the first two finishers Jean-Luc Van Den Heede and Mark Slats who are both making an overnight dash back to be first to shake his hand on the dock. Jean-Luc is returning from the Sail-In festival in Bilbao where the Frenchman will receive their top sailing award on Saturday, while Mark will drive through the night straight from his final public presentation at the HISWA Amsterdam Boat Show.
Meanwhile, fourth placed American/Hungarian Istvan Kopar appears to have finally escaped the clutches of the Azores High pressure system, and now within 1,350 miles of the Les Sables finish line, is making great strides towards completing his solo circumnavigation around 18-19 March.
Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen is having less luck. Faced with head winds for the past few days in a boat covered in barnacles which has lost its ability to point high into the breeze, Tapio is currently heading southeast, 90° from where he wants to go to escape the adverse current running down the South American coast. He is not expected to finish until May.