"It's an interesting piece of the ocean," said veteran Tony Mutter earlier this week about the North Atlantic passage from Newport to Cardiff. "This is my 16th or 17th transatlantic, and I am still looking for the perfect crossing." However, it is worth noting that he may have found it a few years ago when Mutter - along with fellow crew mates Nick Dana and Phil Harmer broke the transatlantic and worldwide 24-hour speed record for a monohull.
It has been quite an exciting week since the leg started in Newport last Sunday. The fleet split in half after just 24 hours, taking northerly and southerly routes separated by hundreds of miles. Then, when the boats reconverged yesterday near the ice exclusion zone, they were mere miles apart with the southerly group, which included Vestas 11th Hour Racing, coming out ahead. Now the boats are breaking records as the 24-hour speed record continuously gets broken which each passing hour.
Ahead of them lies a dreaded ridge of high pressure, that will slow the fleet down to Doldrum-like speeds. Then the last 600 miles will be upwind. Much like the finish into Newport, this leg will be fought in the final miles. As they sail into the Celtic Sea and the final stretch up the Bristol Channel, it will be light, foggy, and there will be quite a bit of current.
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