EDS schedule modified
The Challenge Business' race committee for the EDS Atlantic Challenge have announced several modifications to the schedule in the US. This comes following the damage that has affected some of the boats on this leg and the high probability of a late arrival for the girls on Alphagraphics who have taken the long southerly route to Baltimore below the Azores High.
Following discussions with the crews race organiser Andrew Bishop has announced that the current third leg to Baltimore will be shortened. Instead of finishing off Baltimore deep within the Chesapeake Bay, the finish line will now be at the mouth of the Chesapeake. In addition boats finishing late - ie on the 3 or 4 August - will not have to make the journey to Baltimore and can instead be berthed nearer the mouth of the Chesapeake.
On 5 August the boats will make a 'symbolic start' off Baltimore, but now will not restart properly until Monday, 6 August on a line at the mouth of the Chesapeake. The schedule for the Boston stopover has also been altered. On Saturday 11 August the boats will again be invited to make a symbolic start for the benefit of press and sponsors, but will not begin the leg back to Europe officially until Monday, 13 August.
It is ironic that the current schedule for the EDS Atlantic Challenge is a shortened version of the original proposed by the Challenge Business, brought about following pressure from the skippers to reduce stopover time and the overall duration of the event to allow them greater preparation time for the next major event in their calendar, the two handed Transat Jacques Vabre in November.
Prior to the start of leg three in Portsmouth, discussions took place between the EDS skippers and the race organisation over whether a waypoint should be included in this leg to keep the boats south of the Azores thereby reducing the potential damage that could be caused to them beating across the North Atlantic. Ecover skipper Mike Golding and Gartmore's Josh Hall particularly favour this. This comes as little surprise as the first two legs of this race have proved that their Groupe Finot-designed boats do not go to windward nearly as well as Sill Plein Fruit, winner of the last two legs and current race leader, Ellen MacArthur's Kingfisher. The organisers made the call not to have a waypoint, and perhaps in light of what has happened this was wrong.
See page two for the argument for and against waypoints in trans-oceanic races...