There was a decidedly different mood aboard Wells Fargo - American Pioneer this morning when Joe Harris checked in. The cobwebs have been blown away by a fresh southerly breeze and the boat is romping towards the Boston finish line. "We have a nice wind blowing this morning," Joe said in a satellite phone call. "I am on course and heading for the barn." After a frustrating four days of chasing puffs across an empty ocean, the steady wind is a relief and for the first time the reality of finishing is almost tangible. Unfortunately the forecast is fickle and predicting an ETA will not be easy.
Joe's closest rival, French sailor Jacques Bouchacourt on Okami, has been having a difficult time with a large patch of real estate forcing him to short tack. The scenic coast of Nova Scotia is wonderful for cruising, but not for racing and while Bouchacourt has been dealing with the situation, Joe has motored past him and at the last poll Wells Fargo - American Pioneer held an 11 mile lead. "I knew that I was in a better position than Okami yesterday," Joe said. "I am just happy that it worked out for me although the race is far from over. The forecast has some real tricky spots up ahead. I am concerned that I will park-up and Jacques will sail around me." Since the race started 15 days ago that very scenario has happened a number of times and Joe is wise to be concerned.
At the front of the Monohull 50 class Kip Stone has his eyes set squarely on the finish line. This morning Artforms was 50 miles away sailing at 10 knots. "Kip has sailed a very clever race and deserves to win," Joe said. "He's very steady with his tactics and confident that his boat has speed. Without wanting to jinx anything I would like to congratulate Kip in advance." We will update the website this evening with Joe's latest ETA. For now it looks like he may be rewarded with a cocktail-hour arrival tomorrow evening. If you are in the Boston area on Wednesday put that on your calendar.
- Brian Hancock (firstname.lastname@example.org)