There was no respite at the end of this tough race as the leaders approached the finish line off Plymouth just after dawn this morning. With the fleet tightly packed together in a light following wind, almost every boat had to repeatedly gybe spinnakers on the final approach.
Some of the closest battles on the water raged between the three largest groups of almost identical boats – the Sunfast 3200s, JPK10.10s and the Sunfast 3600s. Despite the range of ratings between these boats, it counted for little on the water.
Although carrying a much lower rating than sole Class 40 that was still in the race, it was Rob Craigie's Sunfast 3600 Bellino that took line honours at 0719. He was followed shortly afterwards by another SF3600, Ian Hoddle's GameOn.
The leading Class 2 boat, Louis-Marie Dussere's JPK10.10 Raging Bee, was third on the water, finishing at 0836. As well as winning his class on corrected time ahead of another French competitor – Pierrick Penvan (Sunfast 3200, Zephyrin), Dusserre is also in strong contention to win overall.
The bulk of the fleet piled over the line in the following few hours, turning this into a race in which the podium places will be decided by a handful of minutes. Deb Fish’s (Sunfast 3200, Exocet) four-day match race against Jeremy Waitt (JPK10.10, Jangada) drew to a conclusion when the wind dropped as she closed the finish, taking a frustrating 20 minutes to cover the last mile. On corrected time that put Waitt ahead by just 12 minutes.
The overall winner will not be decided until the early hours of tomorrow morning, when the lowest-rated boat, Will Sayer’s Sigma 33C Elmarleen, is expected to finish. He will take the overall title on corrected time providing he finishes before around 0430 tomorrow morning. At 1700 today he was just past Lizard Point, 45 miles from the finish and making 5.1 knots. He needs to average 4.7 knots to claim overall victory.