Monday, May 26, 2008

Playing with the boys...

Sam onboard Roxy© Sam Davies / Roxy
[Source OC Events] This now leaves six IMOCA 60s, out of the 13 starters, to finish this gruelling solo transatlantic race, and leading this second pack is Samantha Davies on board Roxy. Samantha Davies represents Britain's first finisher in the race and is expected to arrive at midnight tonight. She will finish ahead of her fellow Briton and rival Dee Caffari on Aviva, who still has around 330 miles to the finish and expected to arrive at 1400 GMT tomorrow (Tuesday, 27th May). Davies has also managed to extend her lead over her closest rivals - Yannick Bestaven (Cervin ENR) and Arnaud Boissieres - by 70 miles: "The blond in front has given us the elbow," wrote Boissieres.

Sailing an older generation boat than the first four finishers in Boston, Sam understandably sounded in good form: "Feeling comfortable and nice to be in wind and on direct line to Boston - its quite relaxed. More importantly, is to get there in one piece without a whale or a fishing bouy wrapped around my keel and there seems to be a minefield of lobster pots and whales out here this morning!

"I'm hoping I'm going to arrive in daylight hours - around 2200 gmt [1800 local time] so hoping I'm going to be able to see because, for sure, at night it's harder. I guess the hardest thing is we're going to get about 30 knots of wind in the channel approaching Boston and it is directly upwind so we're going to have to tack all the way up the channel - that's going to be pretty hard physically, just taking the boat maybe several times."

Speaking of the fifth-place battle that has ensued these past few days, Sam said of her rivals: "They are great friends and also desperate to beat each other! They will be pushing all the way and perhaps taking some risks right up to the end." It's worth noting that the two old friends had finished first (Bestaven) and third (Boissieres) in the 2001 Mini Transat, after having carried out a shared campaign, notably building 2 new prototypes together.

Dee Caffari onboard Aviva, racing in her first solo race onboard her new 60-foot IMOCA boat, has around 300 miles to go and is finding the final phase of the race a frustration : "A great day sailing once the sun rose and revealed clear skies and breeze for Aviva. Then as if by the clock the breeze shut down and left me floating absolutely dead in the water. The only difference was this time is that it was under clear blue skies with a sun in it rather than fog. That was a relief as the air is so cold it was the warmest I had been for days. So yet again my plan to arrive in Boston is delayed once again." For Dee, getting to Boston may seem like an eternity, but the gain will be worth the pain for the girl who, like Samantha Davies, wants to race in the solo non-stop round the world Vendée Globe race this winter. It is critical for Dee to finish The Artemis Transat to put her Vendée Globe qualifier behind her.