Brian Appleyard’s Folboat, Nordic Bear, was heading for the overall winner’s Gold Roman Bowl out of 1,754 entries in the annual 50-mile race around the Isle of Wight.
A northerly wind provided benign, but not record-breaking conditions as the first starters crossed the line off Cowes at 05.10. Attempts by both Francis Joyon in his big red trimaran Idec, and Mike Slade in his 100-foot monohull, Leopard, to break their own records failed by over an hour each.
Another Folkboat, Madelaine, sailed by its previous overall winner in 2007, Edward Donald, and his daughter Isobella, was second overall, for the second year in succession.
In Marseille, a strengthening breeze pinned the TP52 fleet in the Audi MedCup ashore and the forecasters were predicting even more wind for the final day, Sunday.
All the indications were that the results of the six races completed so far would determine the overall result in Marseille. What had been the kick-start to the 2009 championship for Emirates Team New Zealand has not proved so easy this year and it is Terry Hutchinson’s Quantum team that is on a charge to win back the crown he won in 2008.
But ETNZ, courtesy of a strong performance at the opening regatta in Lisbon, still holds an 18.5-point lead over Jochen Schuemann’s All4One with Hutchinson one point behind in third. Britain’s Team Origin, if its current Marseille fifth position is maintained, would also be fifth overall with three regattas, at Barcelona, Cartagena, and Cagliari, to go.