As the 12-strong matched fleet head further north to the Equator temperatures on board soar as the teams report enjoying 24 hours of Champagne sailing. However, with the Scoring Gate less than 450 miles away, could a dreaded wind hole scupper the leaders of the pack and leave a window of opportunity for the other competitors to win those valuable extra points?
As the fleet leave behind the Southern Ocean once again, and head into the Coral Sea and its tropical climate Derry~Londonderry~Doire show no signs of relinquishing it’s minimal but early lead. With less than 20 miles separating the first nine teams, with reports of 18 to 20 knots of wind in ‘perfect conditions’ will there be a change in fortunes as a dreaded wind hole has been forecast just as the fleet approach the Scoring Gate. Skipper of the Northern Irish entry Derry~Londonderry~Doire, Sean McCarter knows all too well, you don’t count your chickens until they’ve hatched.
“All is well on the ‘Derry-go-round’ as we speed towards the Scoring Gate 450 miles to our north. It looks like we'll have continued Champagne sailing conditions until about 30 miles before the Scoring Gate where we will charge into the first of many wind holes on this leg. We have a small lead at the moment but that will mean nothing when we all bunch up in just under two days’ time.”
As the new recruits settle into life at sea it seems Switzerland’s fighting spirit was reignited with its unexpected win in Race 7. During the night Invest Africa snuck ahead of the Swiss entry providing skipper Vicky Ellis the perfect opportunity to give the new team members a valuable if not fruitful sail change lesson. Vicky explains:
“With the approach of a band of squalls we took the prudent decision to drop the kite before approaching one of the Coral Sea reefs. The drop was exciting with the new team getting a baptism of fire as they wrestled with the kite in the strong winds and spray. We re-hoisted the Yankee and put in a mainsail reef to see us through the squalls, but not before Invest Africa had snuck back past as we were doing the change. All this kite up and kite down stress netted us straight back to where we were in the schedules some six hours earlier.”