Mark and Jean Luc are about halfway now. The race isn’t over. All boats still in the race have some chances to be on the podium!
The start with light air and headwinds was successful. Although Mark used little ore no diesel he was still at he front of he fleet. At the Canary gate he was just behind Philippe and in front of Jean Luc. It was clear that Marks aim was to be on the podium. It was curious to see him heading that much west of his competitors. We discussed his options months before the start and agreed that Philippe and Jean Luc had more tactical knowledge and that Mark would have the best boat speed. Mark was also able to row the boat and we did some calculations to get an optimum propulsion efficiently We conclude that a position close to Jean Luc and Philippe, possible a little east of them, would be the best tactic. Mark decides to pass the doldrums much more west. It is easy to conclude that it was a wrong decision. Abilash did the same and made a good gain against his competitors so you also need some luck. What surprises me is that Mark does not push the boat to her limits. He is aware of he fact that you must finish to win the race. Till now there is only limited damage and Mark can sail the boat at nearly 100%.
Jean luc arrived at cape of Good Hopes in front of he rest, was in a much better weather system and extended his lead. He was very lucky here but he creates his own change of this luck by taking the lead.
There were a few questions and remarks upon Marks decision to use hanked on sails and no furlers. Some conclude that this is the reason hat Jean Luc is much faster. I did not ask Mark, but I think his choice is the best for him. Looking to the fleet the two other Rustlers are behind Mark and you can make the same conclusion as above and say a furler is slow. In the storm that hit Abilash Gregor and Mark, windage and stability are key elements. The angle of varnished stability is good for most of the boats but the energy for a knockdown ore capsize is limited. A furled jib (20 kg) and the furler itself will decrease the stability and increase windage. I am sure that Mark was happy in these circumstances of not having furling headsails.
I gave Mark a letter before the start. I wrote that if he had a lead of less than 3 weeks at Hobart he was in a good position, but certainly not at all sure to win the race. In my opinion Mark still has a realistic change to beat Jean Luc, but Susie and Uku have a realistic change to beat Mark. They are only halfway and a lot can happen.
I see the following chances for Mark: Mark just cleaned the underwater body so he is fast. Looking at his physics he will do this more often than Jean Luc. Jean Luc has his self steer on port side. From Cape Horn to France they will statistically sail more on starboard. This mean his self steer will limit his boat speed. Mark has interesting sails for the long way back. Special with the wind from abeam and more forward I think his boat speed will be surprisingly good. Mind that only 0.5 knot speed difference is enough to beat Jean Luc (or to loos from Uku and Susie) and it is clear that the race is still a race and a lot can happen!
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