It’s been a challenging 24 hours as the fleet approach the Vitiaz Strait , leaving behind the Solomon Sea as it embarks on the Bismarck Sea. The trademark light fickle winds that have punctuated the race so far continue to slow the progress of the fleet, as the threat of OneDLL has seen the team overhaul Old Pulteney as just one mile separates the front runners.
While the juggling act at the top of the leaderboard continues, GREAT Britain and Derry~Londonderry~Doire is neck and neck, reluctantly sharing third place. Skipper of the Northern Irish entry knows that the wrong decision at this time could see the team slip out of the top three. Skipper Sean McCarter explains the decision he has to make:
“A large portion of last night was spent weighing up the pro's and con's of going outside of the direct route and punching a little current but in more breeze or staying inside and having little or no opposing current but also no guarantee of steady wind. We chose the former and I thought the leaders would have opted for the latter but was surprised this morning to catch a glimpse of them on the AIS (Automatic Identification System). It will be interesting to see who takes the inside route and whether or not it pays.”
While conditions continue to frustrate the fleet skipper Rich Gould of Invest Africa took full advantage of the ‘flat sea and gentle breeze’ to encourage the crew to brush up on their light air skills. With Mission Performance continuing to make steady progress and with 175 miles until it reaches the Vitiatz Strait the team took the opportunity to practice it’s all important piracy drill.
Meanwhile, Henri Lloyd and PSP Logistics enjoyed favourable winds overnight which has seen both teams make steady progress in the last 24 hours. PSP Logistics, which is currently just over 20 miles away from OneDLL in fifth place, knows the right tactical ploy at this stage could impact the teams position amongst the rest of the fleet.
“A few tactical decisions are in play at the moment, as to which side to leave a few islands to. One being less distance, but less wind (potentially), the other, more distance and more wind (potentially). I say potentially for the reason that tropical sailing forecasts rarely say what the wind is doing. So squalls, hunches and sometimes a bit of a gamble may have to be taken. All remains to be seen.
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