The big blue cat is back in her spiritual home, the Mediterranean, less than a record day’s run from the finish line off Marseilles and a runaway victory in this extraordinary race
This morning’s position polls put Club Med off Malaga, within 630 miles of Marseilles. She officially entered the Mediterranean at 2200 yesterday and was due in on Saturday morning. Light airs in the Alboran Sea have slowed her progress to single figures and she’s now expected later on Saturday or early on Sunday. This at least gives her crew a chance to slap a bit of polish about and reflect on the fastest sail-powered passage around the world, made onboard the fastest offshore sailing boat in the world – quite a double.
Shooting the Straits of Gibraltar yesterday, Club Med was flying in 25-30kn of breeze and Dalton’s thoughts turned to embarrassing failure in the final few hundred miles. “All that matters to the crew of Club Med is getting there safely,” said Dalton. “We have our biggest ever lead over Innovation Explorer at the moment and it will only increase. We are closer to the finish than our nearest rival so it would be stupid to break something now.”
Over a thousand miles behind, Innovation Explorer was rattling along at 24kn, clocking another of the 500-mile plus days that have become routine during this race. Co-skipper Skip Novak was also looking forward to hitting the dock, drooling at the prospect of steaming bouillabaisse. “Let’s not beat about the bush, what we want and our target today is to be in Marseilles Monday evening, before the restaurants close.”
Just north of the Falklands, Cam Lewis has pulled Team Adventure off course. After his visits to Cape Town and Wellington, Lewis is keen to avoid more structural damage and has decided to take the 35-40kn winds on the beam. Team Adventure is heading northeast at 15kn, away from Cabo Branco and the easiest passage through the Doldrums.
Warta Polpharma will round Cape Horn today, her final great Cape and the last major landmark before the Canary Islands. At 88ft, she is the smallest of the maxicats and has no reason to expect a race with the 110ft Franco-American Team Adventure but neither would she have expected to be as close as she is entering her final ocean.
Tony Bullimore, meanwhile, is still getting a Southern Ocean-style pasting at 46° south. Team Legato’s 10kn average for the last 24 hours makes them slower even than the guardship, formerly the maxi ketch Merit Cup, sailing at 10° further south, but Tony is as bullish as ever: “Not so bad,” he chirped. Team Legato is almost 3,000 miles from Cape Horn.
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