#SAILING ON SATURDAY – The Volvo Ocean Racers were at last feeling the benefit of the northeast trade winds on Thursday on the final 1600 miles to Miami from Brazil as the three leaders recorded speeds above 20 knots, but as they were so close together when reaching the breeze, nobody had got significantly ahead. American Ken Read's Puma was 5 miles ahead of NZ's Chris Nicholson's Camper, with overall leader Telefonica (Iker Martinez, Spain) 18 miles astern again, but with breezy offwind sailing in prospect and three boat neck and neck for the remainder of Leg 6, gaps like that can disappear in hours.
Puma has led narrowly all the way from Itajai, but only by dint of finding some new and often untried sail combination or trim. The new Volvo rule that they couldn't do any pre-race training matched with another boat meant that these have been the first prolonged and intensive boat-for-boat sessions they've experienced. They're expected in Miami tomorrow.
The newly-launched defending 2011 Irish Sea Champion Raging Bull, Matt Davis of Skerries Sigma 400 Raging Bull, will miss the early races of the ISORA programme as she broke her moorings off Skerries in the recent severe northeasterly gales. Sounds unfortunate, yett the Bull was lucky. Other Skerries boats were smashed to smithereens. But the Davis winner came in on the only patch of sand in an otherwise totally rocky bit of foreshore, and can be repaired. Some day, some time, we'll see a proper harbour at Skerries.
W M Nixon's sailing column is in the Irish Independent on Saturdays