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Day 206

By Brian Hancock

I was going to wait until the boats were closer to the finish in England before writing this, but it’s too important. In a voyage of around 27,000 nautical miles there are some critical moments and the most critical is the final week or so. Why? Because this is when skippers and crew tend to let their guard down. If you are mid Atlantic or mid Pacific and you let your guard down, you have running space to sort out any kind of a mess that may have occurred. Now I didn’t witness this but Don had it on his tracker update this morning that Pen Duick VI had slowed considerably, in fact their speed was around 4 knots. Now, with the benefit of hindsight they might just have found their own personal parking space and parked up, but my heart leapt into my throat at the news. Marie Tabarly and her crew have sailed an almost flawless leg and it would be a shame to squander it all this close to the end. Don’t let your guard down skippers; there is still a lot of racing ahead, but not much of a runway if you have some kind of serious problem.

I have a point to make on this issue. It’s not completely OGR relevant but it is an offshore around the world racing story. My good mate Mike Golding was just 50 miles from the finish of the Vendee Globe, a solo, non-stop lap of the planet. I am not saying that Mike let his guard down but his keel let go and broke off. Did I say he was just 50 miles from the finish. Mike used to be a firefighter in a previous career and was no stranger to a sudden difficult situation. He immediately dropped both headsail and mainsail. Next he filled all water ballast tanks and sank the boat deeper into the water thereby creating some extra stability. He was still not out of trouble but the wind gods smiled on him. Inch by inch he was able to float across the finish line to round out his solo circumnavigation. Good seamanship and quick thinking saved the day.

For Marie Tabarly the good news is this. No matter what happened overnight PDVI have recovered and recovered in full French style. They have rocketed into the lead passing Translated 9 and now lead in Line Honours and are 3rd in Flyer Class. The overall IRC lead still belongs to the Italian team Translated 9 with L’Esprit d’équipe in second in IRC and 2nd in Flyer Class. All three boats have found a strong westerly wind and are rocking and rolling toward the Bay of Biscay, all three averaging just under ten knots. Spectacular racing.

Neptune and Spirit of Helsinki are also in westerlies but not quite as strong. The maidens on Maiden are wobbling (technical term) on the edge of the high and at last check were managing a frustrating 2.4 knots. So near, yet so far. Same too with Evrika, but at least they are doing almost 4 knots. The high that had dogged the front runners is having none of it and without a serious sacrifice in terms of a toll, it is going to make it a challenge. Galiana WithSecure are still using a Finnish chart (that’s a joke by the way) and are wobbling out to the west after making an attempt to rejoin the fleet closer to the rhumb line.

Well sailing of intrepid sailors. Be careful out there. It’s still a minefield.

Don’s Daily Tracker Update

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