Compaq skipper Will Oxley goes for broke in the sixth leg of the BT Global Challenge

With this leg and the entire race theirs for the taking, skipper Will Oxley and the crew of Compaq have decided there will be no more Mr Nice Guy. “We got sick of nearly getting there and decided we’d have enough,” said Oxley. “We coined the phrase ‘Dare we must,’ and we would see what happened.”

Compaq, on 60 points, is the only boat with any sort of chance of denying LG Flatron, 72 points, overall victory. Their 4,4,3,4,5 scoreline in previous legs has left them in second place overall and within striking distance, technically at least, of Conrad Humphreys and his crew, currently sixth. “We’d quite like Flatron to finish in sixth place,” said Oxley. “That would make the last leg a serious boat race, with only six points between the two boats.”

Compaq’s detour to the east to avoid the Canary Islands’ wind shadow and pick up more breeze has paid off handsomely, bringing her right back into contention. According to the Distance To Finish (DTF) figures, Team SpirIT still holds the lead with Logica and Compaq second and third, but with just two miles covering the top three, there really isn’t a leader.

Bunched together as the leaders are, this could boil down to an unseemly scramble into La Rochelle will seconds deciding the winner. Another scenario is an outbreak of match-racing in the lead group that gifts the leg to someone else, with Flatron, sixth and nearly 50nm from the front, most likely to take advantage.

With the northeast tradewinds backing and dropping to Force 3-4, the boats in the northwestern portion of the fleet will feel most benefit and this could bring Isle of Man or even Spirit of Hong Kong into the four-way race for the lead. This endless leg is beginning to fascinate.