For the very first time, our bows are pointed towards the finish and the Golden Gate Bridge, which is also our final waypoint. For the very first time we can hope that the distance indicated on our GPS is indeed the actual ground we have left to cover to complete this long loop from New York. The multiple intermediary waypoints, which have punctuated our navigation on this Route de l'Or are now behind us. At 0600 UT, during the watch change under pitch black, starry skies, we were able to read this red number on the cockpit repeater: 360 miles.
The GPS screen at the chart table indicates an even more significant figure: 22.30 hours! The time to cover this distance is constantly updated and demonstrates that we are clear about our ETA and that we should cross the finish line tomorrow morning, Thursday 28th, that is the afternoon UT. However, before we say our final word on this matter and hang up our boots and foulies, this last trajectory also promises to be a little harsh. Currently reaching 18 knots, the NNW'ly wind will fill in over the course of the day to 25/30 knots, with the sea breeze. When you're sailing close-hauled, as we have been since escaping the Doldrums, that simply means that we're really going to get slammed around again aboard Gitana 13.
The staysail is in position, ready to be unfurled to replace the solent. The reefing pennant from the first reef is on its winch, ready to be used to reduce the mainsail. As usual, the basic rules are fully respected: at the slightest request from the skipper or the watch leader, the sail area will be able to be reduced in the blink of an eye. Now is not the moment that anything's going to change aboard. With doubtless one or two small tacks to be performed to reposition ourselves, the finish has never seemed so far away, whilst in reality it has never been so close. But until the finish line is crossed…