As the fleet sweeps past the Canaries, the twelve skippers contesting the sixth leg of the BT Global Challenge will be boosting their crews; this leg will be won and lost in the final 1,000nm
As the fleet leaves the Canary Islands in its wake, the winner of the leg is very far from decided. Logica leads, as she has done for much of this leg, but her lead has never become decisive; the bizarre weather that dogs this leg still has always snapped the concertina shut.
At the moment, the fleet is under the influence of a large Atlantic high pressure system. This usually means light airs but a low pressure system over western Africa has increased the pressure difference, bringing Force 4-5 winds from the northeast quadrant and keeping the fleet on port tack.
Compaq’s Will Oxley will be regretting his decision to leave the pack and head further towards the coast. Compaq is the only boat that can stop LG Flatron from running away with the silverware before the challenge ends but they need a good result on this leg.
For much of it, they have been in second place but the lure of low pressure over Africa has been too much for Oxley. He passed between Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria in the east looking for the extra breeze, while Logica led the rest of the fleet either side of La Palma in the west.
The result of that strategy is that Logica is now 24nm ahead, making eight knots while Compaq is making five knots thanks to a stronger south flowing current. With 1,200nm left to La Rochelle, the final gambits of this interminable sixth leg are now taking shape. There’s still another week of sailing in this leg yet but a passing low could take a couple of days off that ETA at La Rochelle.