Passing the latitude of Lisbon, Portugal this morning, Charlie Dalin is in control of a very tight three way fight at the moment, converging fast with Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée 2) who should be about 30 miles behind when they cross gybes. And Boris Herrmann (Seaexplorer-Yacht Club de Monaco) is some 37 miles behind Burton in third.
Clearly in these conditions and in to the finish, weather and sea conditions being close to forecast, Dalin’s latest generation Verdier design with its big foil should be fastest and the 37 year old who grew up in Le Havre, France is the line honours favourite.
But he needs to be more than 10 hours and 15 minutes ahead of Yannick Bestaven (Maître Coq IV) and six hours ahead of Herrmann, so every fraction of a knot that Dalin can find might prove vital, he has absolutely no latitude for small mistakes or failures during the next 48 hours to the finish line. Every mile gained just now at 19-20kts can compensate for a slower miles as the breeze eases closer to the finish line. In contrast Burton has been slower overnight making just 12-13kts while Herrmann has been around 15-17kts.
Bestaven is 232 miles behind him. Do the math. Right now that is just enough for Dalin whereas he needs time and distance on ‘Der Schakal’ – Herrmann – who right now has his time on the race leader, on Burton and also his time (net 4hrs 15mins or call it 90 miles) differential on Bestaven.
Right now the two key weather problems are a transition zone off Cape Finisterre and that the last miles into Les Sables d’Olonne will be lighter, maybe just 10-12kts.
The forecasts do seem to show more breeze coming in in the north and so this finish is very, very finely balanced, Bestaven’s option may give him the extra wind he is seeking and the transition area is smoother offshore.
Meantime Alexia Barrier on TSE 4 My Planet and Ari Huusela on STARK crossed Cape Horn. Barrier passed at 2155hrs UTC and ‘Super Happy’ Huusela, the first sailor ever from the Nordic nations to race round solo, passed the landmark at 0119hrs. Jérémie Beyou crossed the equator back into the northern hemisphere at 0405hrs UTC and Isabelle Joschke has arrived safely in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.