It’s Canada’s time to enjoy some limelight in the Volvo Ocean Race game as virtual skipper Baltic flies the Maple Leaf at the front of the fleet.
Baltic charged into the lead on day ten of the eighth leg from Itajai, Brazil, to Newport, USA, thanks to a perfect route through the Doldrums and into the north-easterly trade winds.
Now in the trades Baltic has opened out a six-mile lead over closest rival guyrivers from the USA, with third-placed German racer Fire-Ket another seven miles behind.
A six-mile advantage might not sound like much but given that there are more than 45,000 players competing in this leg it is quite significant.
And as always with the trade winds, the first to pick them up tends to get rocketed further ahead leaving those behind them trying desperately to hold onto their coat tails.
Speeds among the top boats were up to the early 20s – faster than the 18 knots of breeze they’re currently enjoying.
However, a complex weather system close to the finish line could see the leading boats compress – and it could even come down to the last few hundred miles.
And despite the lead the frontrunners are enjoying, the top 50 players are all within 26 miles of one another as they approach the final 2,000 miles of the leg.
A split is appearing in the fleet as Baltic and the surrounding boats forge ahead on a more direct route to the finish line, while other players such as mangina – pyr opt for a course closer to the Caribbean.
One thing’s for sure – Leg 8 is far from decided.