t has been an interesting couple of days, but nothing like the
last three days are going to be. We got through the ice in one
piece and had our buddies on Swedish Matched covered well. On
Monday, the wind died for the whole fleet and then shifted 180
degrees, and we managed to stay in third place, all in order.
Things were shaping up nicely for the leg and the overall
standings, us with a 50-mile lead on Swedish Match, and Toshiba
and Merit out front to take the top two spots.
Today, Tuesday, has brought a new program the compression
program. Basically, since 0600 today, and at least until 0600
Thursday, the boats behind and to the north will gain on those
leading . . . the east. There is a high-pressure ridge blocking
the way to France, and the southerly flow coming off a low to the
west is coming up behind the fleet.
So, after 3,000 miles, we will have a restart of sorts on Thursday,
with 500 miles to go. That is about the best scenario for Swedish
Match and their need to get 5 or 6 boats between us and them. The
fleet will be lined up pretty much in a north-south line at about
12°W longitude. Some will be to the north, Chessie for sure, and
some will be to the south, maybe Verne or Brunel.
The race will be to see who can get through or around the high-pressure ridge
first, and then who has the best angle on the wind into La Rochelle.
For example, just because someone gets through the ridge 3 hours
earlier to the north and then has to run in light air down to La
Rochele, doesn't mean he will beat someone who gets through 3 hours
later, but then has a reaching angle to La Rochelle.
So, our game is once again back to "Stay between the man and the
hoop." Swedish Match is cooperating pretty well so far by not
angling off to the south or north wildly, but rather closing right
up our tail pipe. The best for us is to be in sight of them and
to stick close to them so as to limit the possibility of getting
boats between us.
Of course, we on EF Language would like it to be a little more
straight forward than that, but that is not always the nature of
the sport, nor life, for that matter. Thursday to the finish,
probably Saturday, will be some testing racing in some variable
winds, but in the end I am confident we will get the job done.
Just a little more spice to it for the spectators.