After the thousands of fast miles raced across the North Atlantic with a hefty fleet spread of over 1000nm the boats have entered the English Channel and are currently facing quite a different story. The somewhat tropical conditions of the Channel have exposed the fleet to variable and light winds, forcing the boats to condense, stop, and set anchor to avoid drifting backwards. With a current ETA between 19:30 – midnight, the predicted performance rankings are still unknown.
As the front runners become more compact these variable conditions will force a slow, but exciting finish to the fast pond crossing, acting as the final test of close racing before the crew get to enjoy crepes in St Malo, Phil Sharp comments: “We reached a big milestone in the race yesterday entering the English Channel to the south of the Scilly Isles and exiting the Atlantic. It is incredible to think that just 7 days ago we passed the SE point of Newfoundland, and have covered the North Atlantic in just under a week in a 40ft boat!
“After our spinnaker problems we are still currently lying between 6th and 7th place, and actually managed to reach 2nm off 2nd place in the night, but unfortunately we caught a huge chunk of weed on the keel and had to take the time consuming steps to remove it, which stopped us in our tracks. As we are far north there is a chance the wind could re-start with us first, fingers crossed! Still, we are pushing Imerys to the limit, even in these nightmare light winds, and are seeking out every advantage possible…”
After 12 days living a routine racers life at sea, team Imerys are clearing up their final rations in the hope that they will step on dry land by this evening, Sharp comments: “The only food we really seem to have left on the boat now is porridge, a lot of porridge. This makes life quite simple, as when one of us gets hungry there is no discussion on what people want to eat. It now comes down to how many spoons of powdered milk or sugar are wanted for porridge. I only hope we hit dry land soon before we all get scurvy!
“It will be a very special feeling to arrive back and complete a full circle of the North Atlantic, which started in The Transat bakerly Warm-up from St Malo back in late April. Until the finish though we have the bit between our teeth and are all staying very focused on taking full advantage of every puff that we can to increase our speed to the finish.”