Five boats still in the hunt for victory
The finishing line is in sight in the Round Britain and Ireland race with five boats within two hours of each other.
At 10am today leader SunGard Front Arena (pictured), a Class 40 skippered by Marco Nannini and Paul Peggs, had just passed the entrance to Salcombe estuary, en route for the Plymouth finish.
But the Italian-entered boat is still not certain of victory with three other Class 40s – Fujifilm, Phesheya-Racing and Solo – and the IRC Class 1 Roaring Again all in close proximity, despite the teams having completed 1,800 miles of racing.
Marco Nannini said: ‘It’s been a tense 24 hours since we passed Dover in first. Our lead over Fujifilm was gradually reduced during the course of the night and at one stage was eroding real fast, as we had hit the a new flow of adverse current in light airs allowing the distinctively green boat to close in to as little as eight miles while enjoying slightly better conditions behind us.
‘The long sleepless night saw us tacking endlessly within a band of wind that seemed to hang some five miles offshore, we didn’t want to go too far off in the channel, but too close to land and the wind would shut off.
‘The rest of the Class 40s seemed to follow a similar strategy and by sunrise the positions were unchanged, our lead marginally improved to about 9.5 miles, after many apprehensive hours constantly checking for wind, boat speed, tidal streams and that elusive six to eight knots light air.
‘With these light winds we feel quite tense as the lead we have is miniscule in the face of a light patch of air or the strong tidal streams we will face when the tide turns again against the leading boats.
‘This race is absolutely amazing, to think that after 1,800 miles the leading five boats are all within two hours or so of one another and that it can still be anyone’s win. It must be a great show to watch, but i hope our nerves will hold till the end.’
The leading multihull is the trimaran Paradox, skippered by Will Claxton and Matt Gill, built by Cornwall-based Multimarine Composites. Latest satellite tracking information places it south of Portland Bill.
Photo: Enrico Vazzoler