The party’s over. That was the feeling across the fleet on Friday as the “fun police” put a stop to the fast and furious trade wind sailing of the past few days.
“The fun police ruined the ‘blasting across the ocean’ party” - Hamish Hooper, CAMPER
Gone are the blistering boat speeds of more than 20 knots as the teams slammed headfirst into a trough, replaced with light, fickle breezes intent on hampering progress towards the Miami finish line.
“The fun police ruined the ‘blasting across the ocean’ party,” lamented Hamish Hooper, media crew member for second-placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand.
“The 25 knots dropped to 20, then to 18, then to 16 and with it the intoxicating boat speeds that would have seen us in Miami in no time.
“We are still averaging about 14 to 15 knots at present but that is forecast to drop again significantly, into what is threatening to be almost a drift off. What an ugly prospect.”
The frustration was being felt across the fleet, none more so than by current leaders PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG.
“Unfortunately our time of terrific trade wind sailing is coming to a close, and far too short it was,” added PUMA’s MCM Amory Ross.
“One glorious 500-mile day two days ago and a moderately-less-but-still-productive day yesterday had the Mar Mostro eating up some serious miles towards the finish in Miami.
“But the value of these miles will be fully appreciated over the next week as we weave our way through countless zones of little to no wind between our current location and Florida’s south-eastern coast.
“In these latter stages where our routing software can’t agree on much, and where the forecasts are changing so rapidly, indecisiveness, second-guessing, and varied opinions are going to be in abundance.
“That’s just going to be part of life, and [navigator] Tom Addis’s job in deciphering the multiple weather systems is only going to get harder.”
Although the drop in speed was tough to deal with for chasers Groupama and Abu Dhabi, both teams remained optimistic about their chances as the fleet compresses.
Abu Dhabi helmsman Simon Fisher said: “If we manage to slowly close down the gap each day like we have been doing over the past few scheds, we should be under a hundred miles and ready to make moves in the next few days.”