Overnight the RORC Caribbean 600 fleet has spread out across the course, most boats now lying between Saba and Tintimare north of St Martin. Rambler has set a blistering pace and is fast approaching Basseterre in Guadeloupe - the crew must be looking towards setting a new monohull course record. The trade winds remained very constant throughout the night which saw the fleet working their way past the islands of Nevis, St Kitts, Eustatia and Saba. Aegir reported fluky air on this leg and several yachts including Ocean Seven and Selene gybed away from the land in search of more consistent air. The North part of St Kitts is broad and high - wind shadow can affect the whole area on the rhumbline between Nevis and Saba. Clearly some yachts gained or lost out here depending on the wind phase. Being closer or further out can profit either way but being further offshore usually pays.
The beat up to St Bart's from Saba, never a comfortable one, is where part of the fleet are now engaged and it is interesting to see the differing options boats are taking. British Soldier has chosen to close the St Martin coast in one large tack, presumably looking for shallow water with less current and calmer seas. Heavier yachts beating hard close to the rhumbline look to be doing better with Lila, EHO1 and Hydrocarbon at the head of a series of Class 40's including Fitz and Ocean Warrior. Behind them the two 40.7s including Coyote will be having a bumpy and wet bash upwind in the increased swell - there is little option for them other than to tough it out staying close to the rhumbline as they slowly make their way up towards St Bart's. Boats already around St Bart's the first time are enjoying a short period of flatter water with down wind sailing - Concise has set an excellent benchmark leading the Class 40's ahead of Venomous (Whitbread 60) and just behind Selene (Swan 80).