Race 4, Day 17: Ocean Sprint contest continues as leaders hope to avoid final obstacle

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After more than 3,000 miles of extreme conditions and exhilarating racing, the stakes are nail bitingly high in Race 4 with all teams desperate to claim the two highly valuable Ocean Sprint points and the final podium positions remaining anything but certain.

With the first five teams completed, OneDLL lead the Ocean Sprint contest after crossing the lines of longitude between 90 and 95 degrees east, fastest in 19 hours, 41 minutes. Jamaica Get All Right, Old Pulteney, PSP Logistics, Switzerland and Mission Performance are currently attempting to better this, and Derry~Londonderry~Doire begin their quest imminently.

Teams lower down the leaderboard are well aware of the vital importance these two bonus points can provide to their overall standings. Commenting on their Ocean Sprint progress so far, Mission Performance skipper Matt Mitchell describes: “We got a running start, tucking away nearly 80 miles of the 230 mile run in the first six hours! With no sign of anything weather related to slow us down we are feeling confident about this Ocean Sprint.

“In previous sprints there was always that unfortunate wind shift, or the wind dying all together half way through so fingers crossed for this time. A couple of points will come in very handy as we make our bid to climb from the bottom of the overall leaderboard.”

After some incredibly close racing, GREAT Britain continue their hunt to pass Olly Cotterell and his OneDLL team, with skipper Simon Talbot saying: “We have now been within a few miles of them for nearly 48 hours and at our closest, were a mere 0.1 mile behind, but try as we might we have not managed to overtake them.

“Obviously we have over 950 miles still to go so the pursuit will continue until we hopefully do, but knowing Olly, he will be working just as hard to keep us at bay, as we are working at overtaking them!”

Whilst the chasing pack, aside from Switzerland which found a wind hole, have reported steady winds and good progress, the forecast for the fleet leaders does not look so bright or breezy.

Eric Holden, Henri Lloyd skipper and former weather forecaster for the Canadian Olympic sailing team knows all too well the complications that could face them in the final stretch as he explains: “The final thousand miles in to Albany look anything but easy. We are sailing into a ridge of high pressure that extends across our path with no way around it.

“Our only hope is that a new weather system will move in from the west and push this ridge along to the east, as fast or faster than we can sail. Otherwise the front group will sail into the area of no wind and have to watch the fleet sail up to us. That would be a devastating but possible scenario.”

At 1100 UTC, Henri Lloyd, (897.6 miles to finish) continue to lead the fleet. OneDLL (900.6 miles) and Great Britain (904.7) hold on to third and fourth place respectively.

To read the skipper reports, click here.

For the Race 4 Race Viewer, click here.