The Ocean Race, Leg 3, Day 20 onboard Team Malizia. Drone view. Rosalin Kuiper on the mast, witnessing the close racing between Team Malizia and Biotherm. © Antoine Auriol / Team Malizia
The Ocean Race: all lined up with one way to go
On Saturday it seemed as if the race couldn't get any closer. By Sunday morning UTC that was proved wrong.
Today, all four teams are lined up on a 13 mile line extending north to south, but separated by less than 3 miles on the leaderboard. All this after three full weeks of racing.
The reason for the close racing remains a stubbornly persistent ridge of high pressure and its light winds that is acting as a barrier to the teams making progress to the east.
In these conditions, the wind is marginally stronger to the south, so the teams have been taking it in turns to gybe south, dropping down the leaderboard by a few miles as they move towards the ice exclusion zone, before making gains back when the next team dives south.
This should remain the dominant weather pattern until Monday when the ridge begins to dissipate and stronger winds return.
"There is a ridge of high pressure in front of us and a low pressure behind, so we are stuck a bit in the middle," is the way Biotherm skipper Paul Meilhat explains the situation.
It's definitely worth taking a look at the Content from the Boats page today. In the relatively calm conditions, teams are doing repairs, boat and mast checks and plenty of drone flying.
When Team Malizia's Rosie Kuiper went up the mast, she could see all four boats from the top of the rig, for example.
While the past couple of days provided a respite from typical southern latitude conditions, the forecast shows this will be shortlived, with the breeze coming on again to start the week.
The latest weather routings have the teams passing Cape Horn in one week, on 26/27 March, while the ETA in Itajaí, Brazil - with less certainty - is the first weekend in April.
The latest positions are on the Race Tracker and the leaderboard is available here