Image: The Ocean Race Onboard 11th Hour Racing Team. Charlie Enright grinding the main sheet. © Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing / The Ocean Race
There has been more of the same in The Ocean Race on Friday - but in a good way. All four teams are clicking down the miles, racing to the east in fast reaching conditions.
The wind is up, the water is still (relatively) flat, and the miles keep sliding away under the keel.
The fleet continues to compress slightly, closing the race up with the Leg 3 scoring gate fast approaching. The ETA is now Monday morning UTC.
There should be good, close racing for the next two-and-a-half days in the battle for points at the north/south scoring line running down 143-degrees east longitude.
"We are just at the end of the Indian Ocean, sailing below Cape Leeuwin in a little bit," said Paul Meilhat on Biotherm, who continues to charge along in second place. "We are reaching just ahead of a front, with Team Malizia and 11th Hour Racing Team just behind us and Holcim-PRB about 100 miles in front of us.
"It depends on our speed, but when we are faster we are more in sunny conditions, and if we are slower we are in the rain and grey. It seems like we have a few days of this."
Over the past 24 hours, Team Holcim-PRB has seen its lead continue to shrink, dropping another 60 miles or so, but skipper Kevin Escoffier remains just over 100 miles ahead and strongly positioned between the chasing trio, who are racing in a line directly behind and to the west, and the scoring gate straight ahead of him and nearly 1,300 miles to the east.
Further compression is likely. The light winds to the east continue to favour the trailing pack but there is a difference between closing the gap and making a pass, which may prove to be much more difficult.
Charlie Enright and his 11th Hour Racing Team continue to monitor the condition of their replacement rudder. The team released video last night describing the situation as it first developed earlier this week here.
Meanwhile, in Cape Town, GUYOT environnement - Team Europe reports that work on their IMOCA hull is proceeding faster than expected. After opening the hull in the delaminated area no further damage was discovered and repairs at the improvised construction site in Cape Town have progressed so quickly that the yacht is already being prepared for painting. The team is now planning to begin the delivery to Itajai late next week.
"The repair has progressed really well. The team did a very good, fast and strong job. The lamination work was completed this morning. Now a few more bumps will be filled and the laminated area will be in good shape, then the painters can start work," reported skipper Benjamin Dutreux.