In the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, today will be the final day’s racing for almost all remaining teams, but it is proving to be far from an easy path into Albany as headwinds offer a final, cruel challenge to the Finish Line.
Andrew Thomas (L) and Nigel Brennan stand by to grind on the spinnaker sheet during the Southern Ocean crossing.
While Switzerland, PSP Logistics and Jamaica Get All Right completed their campaigns overnight, Invest Africa is experiencing a 'soul destroying' final few miles, as skipper Rich Gould explains: 'What a horrendous way to finish one of the toughest ocean crossings I have ever done. Overnight we have slipped from fifth to eighth and currently finishing in eleventh is looking highly probable.
'A combination of things has put us in this situation. I have put the boat in the wrong place and not anticipated the final stretch being a long slow beat to windward so the boats to the south had a considerable advantage.'
It is not just Rich who is finding the final miles tough however as Old Pulteney skipper Patrick van der Zijden comments: 'It isn’t over till the fat lady sings. Only 22 miles to the finish and a lot can happen on a day, what we hoped to be a relatively easy straight to the finish line sail, became a bit of a struggle.
'Momentarily we are sailing with two reefs in the mainsail and the staysail up. We were on our way to reel in Invest Africa, but with the Yankee swinging that might have hit a wall. Also Derry~Londonderry~Doire shows up on the scene so this will be a very exciting finish.'
Last but definitely not least, Team Garmin are also anticipating similar problems as it approaches the final stretch, with skipper Ben Bowley saying: 'As I sit here in a rather contorted position typing in the navigation station, I am reminded of one of Sir Edward Heath's famous nautical quotes: ’A gentleman never sails to windward.’
'Yet sail to windward is what the ladies and gentlemen of Team Garmin are currently forced to do. We knew that this was coming but as we smash and crash our way through the final 200 miles to Albany, it feels like a cruel twist of the knife after what has been a very challenging leg.
'In retrospect, it may have been wise to have used the last low pressure to make a touch more ground to the east before heading straight for home, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.'
In its best finish yet, Switzerland crossed the Finish Line at 21:34 UTC (05:34 local time) yesterday in fifth place. Jamaica Get All Right crossed, sixth at 01:47 UTC (09:47 local time) and PSP Logistics claimed seventh place, crossing the Finish Line at 05:27 UTC (01:27 local).
Clipper Round the World