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Day 185

By Brian Hancock

Stand by for a lead change.The French team on L’Esprit d’équipe led very capably by skipper Lionel Régnier, is storming up on the outside and have found a fast lane. Last look at the Yellow Brick tracker they were sailing at 8.7 knots and had 5,082 nautical miles to go to the finish in Cowes. Contrast this with current leader Spirit of Helsinki who were still stuck in that pesky parking lot doing just 2.2 knots with 5,064 miles to go. You do the math.

There is another wild card. Ms Marie Tabarly and her crew on Pen Duick VI have also found a fast lane and are going to prove that their “different” tactics in the first week of the leg would pay off and they seem to be. At last check they were doing 9.5 knots and only 60 miles behind SOH. The Finnish team on Galiana WithSecure led by the great Tapio Leitenen are also in the hunt and within spitting distance of the leaders so it’s going to get really exciting in the next 24 hours.

I am sure that the Maiden team is feeling some pain. After an incredible first two weeks of Leg 4 they have fallen into a hole perhaps distracted by the generator/watermaker issues. Still, they are resilient and will likely bounce back.

There is some breeze for the middle pack. Translated 9 are averaging close to 9 knots with a light to moderate northeasterly. Outlaw, Neptune and White Shadow are enjoying the same conditions and making hay while the sun shines. The only boat that I am worried about is Sterna. They are too close to Rio to resist temptation. South Africans have been known to enjoy a good caipirinha every now and then and I wouldn’t blame them if they stopped in for a couple of cold ones; err, well except for the fact that they would be disqualified. “Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail from São Paulo, made with cachaça, sugar, and lime. The drink is prepared by mixing the fruit and the sugar together, then adding the liquor.” (Thanks Wikipedia).

The spoiler alert in all of this is that there is a serpentine looking trough stretching right in front of the whole fleet. That will slow up the leaders and those behind will catch up, but as they say, ‘first in, first out.’ Time will tell. This is what makes sailboat racing fun. Sail safe my brothers and sisters of the OGR. There are more fun times ahead.

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