Sailing: Smith's crew foresee an upset
THE rain went away, the crowds gathered on land and sea, and Annapolis yesterday gave as rumbustious a farewell to the Whitbread fleet as its bigger brother Baltimore had given a welcome 10 days before.
The eighth, penultimate, 3,400-mile leg across the Atlantic to La Rochelle was changing shape as rapidly as the weather forecasts for the nine yachts which lined up just north of the four-and-a-half-mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Gazing down from its 184ft span were thousands upon thousands of Marylanders taking part in an annual fun walk, curious to see an event which, on its first visit, has taken the local community by storm.
Ahead lay about 15 tricky hours of picking a path through the threatening shoals and shallows, lobster pots and fishing boats that litter the bay. The light to moderate south-westerly wind promised a smooth enough run to the ocean and the Gulf Stream swinging north and east.
But earlier predictions of fast reaching conditions to take them on a path between the ice inclusion zone from the Grand Banks to Newfoundland and the slow conditions of the North Atlantic high pressure system were becoming more uncertain.
``It is going to be a very hard leg,'' said Adrian Stead, of Silk Cut. Lawrie Smith's crew still see the hope of an upset which, with the final sprint to Southampton, could close the gap between the sixth-placed British entry and Grant Dalton's third-placed Merit Cup.
The overall leader, Paul Cayard, in Ef Language has only to record a half-way decent result to wrap it up with the final leg to spare. But, with sailmaker Paul Murray replacing the injured Marco Constant, Cayard will be looking for his fourth leg win. And Murray knows Constant will be back on board despite his broken left wrist, for the victory ride to the finish if the result is sewn up in the next couple of weeks.
Their counterparts on the all-woman Ef Education have the special incentive of a French skipper, Christine Guillou, being flanked by two top sailors returning home to La Rochelle, Isabelle Autissier and Christine Briand.
For Autissier, who mainly races single-handed, this is her seventh Atlantic crossing and she would be keen to skipper her own entry in the 2001 Volvo, which takes over from the Whitbread.
Latest in Sport
NFL player Marshawn Lynch answers every question in post-game interview with 'Yeah'
Manchester United named Premier League's loudest fans despite late push by Chelsea according to 'Smart Meter' app
WWE Survivor Series 2014: What time does the event start? And full card
Chelsea vs West Brom: Jose Mourinho turns on ‘Dr Sergio Ramos’ in Spanish spat
Prince Harry leads the congratulations for Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi, calling him 'an absolute legend' as he crossed the finish line
- 1 Lego letter from the 1970s still offers a powerful message to parents 40 years later
- 3 Green Party Caroline Lucas interview: 'We could be on the edge of something very big'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
£50000 - £55000 per annum: Investigo: A growing group of top end restaurants l...
£200 per day: Ashdown Group: Working within a business that has a high number ...
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well-established and growi...