Their 92ft catamaran Enza had just 1,200 miles to go to the finish at Ushant, off the coast of Brittany, and the problem was not so much the lack of wind but the possibility of its north-easterly direction.
But even that should not be for long, and Knox-Johnston said they hoped to finish on Thursday, which would take about five days off the record of 79 days and six hours, set last year by the Frenchman Bruno Peyron.
Another Frenchman, Olivier de Kersauson, set off in his 90ft trimaran La Lyonnaise des Eaux-Dumez at the same time as Enza in January. But he has always struggled to keep pace and yesterday he was 600 miles behind and still to negotiate the tricky light patches of the Azores high-pressure system.
Blake said the whole eight-man crew were tired after what had been a testing second half of their second attempt at the project. But he added that they were also feeling good, the yacht had picked up speed again, and the forecast for the run- in was for helpful westerlies.
Knowing the boat was showing a little tiredness, however, after averaging 14 knots for 10 weeks, including going through dangerous ice at 62 degrees south, Blake was not counting his chickens.Reuse content