© Charles Drapeau / Guyot environnement - Team Europe / The Ocean Race
The Ocean Race: steady progress towards Cape Horn
Team Holcim PRB retains its lead on Thursday, as the fleet compresses to within 100 miles.
As per the forecast yesterday, the leader is slowing slightly and the trailing boats are nibbling into the lead, but little has changed in the big picture over the past 24 hours.
"We knew that everyone would close up on us from behind so the only solution for us has been to keep pressing forward as fast as possible," said skipper Kevin Escoffier. "That's why we chose to stay south. I think if we are still a little bit ahead of the other boats, it is because we made that choice, so I'm happy with what we have done.
"The next day we will be in a light spot and after that we will be reaching along the ice exclusion zone limit, but further ahead, the weather models are not clear."
Team Malizia continues to be the biggest threat to the leader, positioned 60 miles north but nearly in line in terms of distance to the east. Biotherm and 11th Hour Racing Team are futher back, but in line with the leader.
The teams are around the halfway point on this mammoth leg 3 - the longest stage in race history - with an ETA at Cape Horn still 10-11 days and some 4000 nautical miles away. The forecast over the next three days is for lighter conditions that will see more compression on the leaderboard as well as an opportunity for repairs.
During a live call with media to the boat on Thursday afternoon, 11th Hour Racing Team reported making around 22 knots of boatspeed in winds near 20 knots. But as the crew looks ahead priorities will shift to include making repairs.
"We have had the time to assess the damage we have had over the past days," said Justine Mettraux, responding to a journalist's question. "We will make the most of (the light period) to fix the mainsail and one of the rudders and do a big check over the rest of the boat to be in good shape for the rest of the leg. We've had the time to think about what we want to do and make a priority list and a good plan for what we want to do."
She confirmed the team has made a plan with their sailmakers for a repair such that if all goes well, they will be able to use the sail at 100 percent capacity.
Meanwhile, nearly halfway around the world, GUYOT envrionnement - Team Europe took a significant step towards rejoining the fleet in Brazil on Thursday morning when the team slipped lines from the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town to start its delivery sail to Itajai. This follows a significant repair to the boat structure that knocked the team out of leg 3.
"In the end we were very lucky in how we could manage this crisis," said co-skipper Robert Stanjek. "We had the right things available in Cape Town for this - the shore team, boat builders, material - and the repair job went smoothly."
"It was a very big job and we had a lot of things to do to get the boat back in the water," said skipper Benjamin Dutreux. "When we lifted the boat out we discovered a big area had been completely delaminated... It would normally take about a month to do this work in a boatyard, but we managed it in more like one week... It was an amazing team-building job. It was frustrating but in the end everyone is looking forward with the same goal to get to Itajaí and continue in the race."